Following on from last week's explanation of some User Experience design concepts, this week we’re filling you in on a kind of software that’s very familiar to us at Ember! There’s a good chance a few of your most visited URLs are SaaS products too—so let’s dig a little deeper and get started.
Software as a Service, also known as SaaS, is a cloud-based service that the user interacts with over the internet. Simple, right? Instead of downloading the software directly to your PC, you use it via a web browser. You can consider these to be the defining characteristics of Software as a Service.
- They are hosted centrally, on the cloud
- They must be accessed with an internet connection
- They’re licensed on a subscription basis
The software in question can be incredibly varied, from internal business applications to communication platforms. For example, the range of Google Apps are considered to be SaaS applications—think Google Docs and the Office 365 range. They’re available online and have become the alternative to on-site software installations. When it comes to bespoke software development, it’s important to optimise your budget where you can.
So, now that we know what they are, let’s have a look at their advantages and disadvantages.
When it comes to SaaS versus traditional software installation, here at Ember we believe there’s a great range of advantages.
Running your application from within a web browser helps to overcome the obstacles faced by ill-fitting and in-compatible tech. The user can access the service from any web browser, on any computer, regardless of the operating system. Therefore, you don’t need to spend the time making sure your software can be downloaded, installed and is compatible with every OS.
SaaS applications are designed to be mobile friendly, although at Ember we can also launch our scalable SaaS project with a companion app—delivering full functionality for users limited to mobile.
Depending on the project requirements, SaaS products have to be able to facilitate growth, often at short notice, and stay scalable in every aspect. As a SaaS provider you can offer a range of subscription models and grow your business with your client base.
In comparison to traditional software delivery methods, SaaS also saves space and money on bulky hardware, where you would only be paying for what you use. It’s possible to deploy critical software for your business without the need for expensive IT infrastructure—which will take a smaller chunk out of your IT budget.
SaaS products are centrally hosted, so updates can be made to the software without causing any system outages, meaning the software is kept up to date with security patches and any new improvements made. This is usually also taken care of by the SaaS provider, which leaves everyone else to do their job. Therefore, saving time and money when it comes to updating your system.
Of course, there is the issue of connectivity. Some on-demand software has offline capabilities. Unfortunately, they will always be limited in comparison to their connected counterparts, and if your key demographic is a user group without easy internet access, then it’s unlikely to be the most compatible system for your needs.
If ultimate control of the system and its updates/iterations is what you’re looking for, maybe SaaS isn’t for you either. It’s also very important for the proper security precautions to be taken when deploying SaaS, a credible SaaS provider will maintain the software to ensure that it is secure and compliant. When data is hosted on the cloud, it must be encrypted and safe, both in transit and at rest,—to protect those that generated it.
The most important aspect of any software solution—is that it actually solves a problem!
The kind of platform that will best suit your needs is the kind that will help you meet your business goals; set up and monitor KPIs/targets, engage and encourage it’s users, as well as coming in on time and on budget. At Ember, that’s what we do.
Take a glance at our SaaS case studies to see what’s possible. https://www.ember.ltd/work