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Five Ways to Know a True SaaS

by: Ronald Escanlar

Monday, March 21, 2011 |

Do not Rush to get to the Cloud

From a mere buzzword, cloud computing has been slowly maturing into a viable business tool in the global marketplace. Last year, cloud computing became mainstream as an increasing number of companies engaged with various cloud computing service providers to study how they can benefit from the “cloud”.  

Consultancy firm TPI warns companies that in their rush to get to the “cloud”, more problems can crop up rather than solutions. Some companies are easily confused with the “Cloud” and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). “These terms have become so pervasive that they are almost indistinguishable from the software itself,” comment TPI’s Stanton Jones and Bobby Neil.

The duo says there are many applications that are being introduced into the market as SaaS. In truth, though, Jones and Neil opine that these are merely repackaged versions of old applications that have been morphed into hosted or “on-demand” software.

How do you know whether the app offered to your company is a true SaaS? They offer the following rules of thumb:

The service includes new features, and updates are delivered often. A true SaaS has one single code base designed to service multiple clients. The “multi-tenant” architecture means “you share the application software and hardware with other customers.” With one code base to manage, updates are rolled out in a span of weeks and months, compared to years for “traditional” software.

“Cloud” service means mobility. SaaS applications benefit from the newest Internet technologies, which have focused on easy and fast access, especially while on the move. A true SaaS application is ready to take on the hypergrowth in mobile computing and the consequent surge of a global, virtual workforce.

Pay only for what you use. Most SaaS applications are priced by usage - terms are negotiated as to the number of users and the amount of bandwidth and storage used. If you were to host your own server or deploy highly-customized software, you would be saddled by software, hardware, and maintenance costs - not to mention the technical staff that you’d need to employ. A true SaaS enables you to either ramp up your storage or rapidly scale down your use.

Standardized dashboard allows for configurations, not customizations. Most SaaS applications are controlled via a dashboard accessible through a Web browser. This dashboard is the same for all customers. Jones and Neil say that “it’s important to make sure your requirements can be met via available configuration options rather than deep customization.” Some SaaS will definitely be unable to provide you the specific services you need.

Flexible price terms make for different service level agreements. Since majority of SaaS suppliers operate on the economies of scale, customizations are usually not part of sales packages. Subscription plans are anchored on different price terms that offer different benefits per price point. More expensive subscription plans usually offer more benefits and advantages over lower-priced subscription plans.

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