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Software as a Service (SaaS) Explained in 5 mins

software as a servicecloud computing

Tanveer Sayem / 2022-11-12

5 min read

One of the most popular forms of cloud computing is Software as a Service, or SaaS, and is often used on a daily basis by consumers and for business. In this article, I will explain how SaaS differs from the other cloud computing models, how it is commonly used by both consumers and businesses, and some of the key benefits users gain from using a SaaS application.


Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few years it is very likely you use Software as a service or SaaS on a daily basis for business and as a consumer. SaaS is one of the three main categories of cloud computing, Infrastructure as a Service, or IaaS, and Platform as a Service, or PaaS. Out of the big 3 cloud computing models, SaaS is the most popular and commonly used one, and the great thing about it is you don't have to be a developer or an IT expert to use it! So, SaaS in a nutshell is a method of delivering software and applications over the internet via a subscription modal.
This is a game changer compared to our traditional software model used prior to the emergence of cloud computing, where users would have to manage, install, and upgrade the software themselves on local servers or computers. With SaaS you can simply provision a server for an instance in the cloud, and in a couple of hours, you'll have your software or application ready for use. Some key examples would be the email client you use such as GMail, the applications, and tools you have on your computer, such as Microsoft Office 365 or Adobe Creative Cloud, or even when you are jamming out to your favorite music streaming service, these are all SaaS, providing productivity apps over the internet.
SaaS is also used in a wide variety of business operations today, such as communication and collaboration, customer relationship management, billing, sales management, human resource management, financial management, enterprise resourcing planning, you get the gist, the list goes on and on.
So unlike other cloud computing service models, SaaS is at the very top of the IT stack and has the highest level of abstraction. So, this means the cloud service provider will be providing and maintaining all these layers for you in this stack. So, let's take a look at what that might look like and see how a user would typically consume a SaaS application.
Our users would access a SaaS application within what we call a multi-tenant architecture, and by tenant I mean user. So, you'd have multiple users all accessing the same pool of resources within the stack. So it'd be the same hosted environment, same hosted servers where multiple users would have their own dedicated space to securely store their data. There are a lot of benefits to this in a SaaS application. So let's take a look at a few.
  1. Cost-efficient: So one you know right off the bat is it's much more cost-efficient compared to our other models. Because again, which is the overall theme of this whole article, is cloud service providers would be maintaining and managing the application for you. So, there's no IT overhead cost, and a SaaS application is typically consumed on a subscription-based model which is either on an annual basis or a monthly basis. And that includes support typically whereas, with our older traditional models, on-prem, you would have a perpetual license where you'd have a pretty large upfront cost and then you'd have to pay for support ongoing separately.
  2. Scalability: You can horizontally or vertically scale on demand because again that cloud service provider is going to be maintaining everything for you. So if you need to add more databases, or you need more computing power they'll take care of that for you on an as-needed basis.
  3. Access anywhere: Another benefit is you can access your SaaS application anywhere which is a huge benefit right now especially if you want to mobilize your workforce. So, all you need is a web browser and internet connectivity to be up and running with your SaaS application. There's no installation, there are typically no plugins involved and you can no matter where you reside geographically, you can always be up and running. Now, I should say if you are looking for a SaaS solution there are some instances where you do need to keep your data in the same location where you reside. For instance, in Europe we have GDPR and by law, you have to maintain your data where you reside. So, there are going to be some instances like that, but for the most part, SaaS is a highly secure solution.
  4. New version: Last but not least, you always have a new version. So, once again there's no need to update your licensing or update manually the new version of your software because that's all taken care of for you and it's automatically upgraded. And this helps with a lot of wide range of issues typically if there's version control. In the past, you'd download software, and then you might be operating with something that's not compatible with a different version of that software. So, everyone's on the same version of that software and you don't have to manually update and worry about patching and all that junk, everything's taken care of for you.
So, this is just a very quick overview of Sofware as a Service. If you want to learn more, check out this link: IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS
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