Software as a Service (or SaaS) is a means of licensing and delivering software online via subscription, as opposed to purchasing the software outright for use on an individual computer.
While many think of SaaS as a relatively new business model, it actually has its origins in the 1960s. Early SaaS systems involved “dumb” terminals (monitors and keyboards without an actual computer or CPU) networked to a mainframe. This system, known as time-sharing, allowed for small businesses, academic establishments and government bodies to access modern computer systems without having to foot the bill for hardware, support and training – an early precursor to both the internet and SaaS.
As computers became more affordable, their use in business naturally became more widespread. Developers used to rely on customers to purchase a licence to use their software in perpetuity, along with an annual fee to access maintenance and technical support. With the advent of cloud computing, SaaS provided an alternative to the “own the software, pay for the maintenance” model – and brought many advantages with it.
Subscription-based software services come with lower up-front costs. This is great for start-ups or small businesses who might not have the capital to pay for software up front. The provider is responsible for the IT infrastructure running the software, it also brings down hardware maintenance fees for the end user.
Quicker to set-up and deploy than having to install software from a disc. Most SaaS apps will already be installed and configured directly in a cloud service, which reduces the amount of compatibility issues.
The beauty of many “software as a service” apps is that all the end user needs is an internet connection and a web browser to access their service. This sort of flexibility makes the evolution of SaaS products more preferable option than software which needs to be installed. It also offers more scalable flexibility. When your business grows and you need more features or user licences, simply change your subscription as required and enjoy immediate access to the services you require.
Ultimately, SaaS workflow software is a winner with small-medium businesses because it:
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Licensing and delivering software online via subscription, as opposed to purchasing the software outright.