Software as a Service (SAAS)
Software as a service (SAAS) is at the forefront of technological trends in 2007. It refers to a mode of software delivery where maintenance, daily operation and software support is provided by the software company through Internet delivery of applications.
SAAS delivery is defined by some fundamental characteristics. SAAS software must be able to access and manage commercial applications through a network-based connection.
Software activity is managed at a central, remote location and allows customers access to applications through the Web. Application delivery is based on a one-to-many model that exponentially increases delivery capacity.
One of this year’s most anticipated SAAS software products, SalesForce.com’s AppSpace, embodies this year’s major trend in SAAS. AppSpace allows documents to be accessed through Web services.
The trend exemplified by AppSpace is the tendency for SAASs to veer away from data-based technology toward process-centric services in 2007. Microsoft is developing SAAS products that address another 2007 trend by targeting SAAS products to small-to-medium-businesses (SMBs).
This article will discuss SAAS contributions to IT and some of the upcoming trends for 2007.
The term “software as a service” was coined in 2005 by John Koenig at the SDForum Software as a Service Conference and replaced previous terms like “application service provider” (ASP).
ASPs originally allowed access to application programs using standardized protocols through third-party managing servers with little knowledge of the application being accessed. This meant that performance management and application updates were poor and slow, specifically because the managing servers weren’t familiar with applications accessible through the Web.
The shift toward SAAS technology cut IT demands for software acquisitions, maintenance, and personnel. It reflected a shift in consumer requirements for cutting costs and flexibility.
These elements are all included in SAAS design. Minimal infrastructure and software investments for SAAS allow companies to try new applications with minimal risk, providing agility in the implementation of application management solutions. Some of the benefits of SAAS include low-cost entry because customers pay for application use as needed through a subscription rather than own the software and delivery systems themselves.
Increased accessibility through the Internet increases enterprise-wide collaboration and productivity. Service providers offer better scalability in application use by customizing applications to business needs.
SAAS users use parametric applications to create new business services. SAAS modularity allows IT managers to pick only those applications (or parts of applications) that are needed at the time. SAAS have also introduced sales force automation online, which centralized and automated business functions from processing inventory, sales and customer relations to analyzing sales forecasts.
Points of Interest
The major trends in SAAS for 2007 are contained by terminology that may require some decoding. For example, “SAAS mashups” describe the ability for SAASs to combine or “mashup” several applications to create a total IT solution, have been available in old, in-house applications.
However, in 2007, vertical applications, which are applications built for a specific industry will gain more popularity in SAAS as customers demand increased application specificity.
Another major trend in SAAS is the targeting of SMBs (service message blockers). Vendors like Microsoft, SAP and Oracle are developing new SAAS solutions to compete with other vendors like SalesForce.com, which has traditionally been a trail-blazer in SAAS products.
Microsoft and SAP introduced their first SAAS products in the form of CRMs (customer relations management system). SAAS systems make particular sense for SMBs because of their cost efficiency.
They are subscription-based, making them cheaper to acquire and easier to use for SMBs than packaged, licensed software packages. In addition to sales force automation, new SAAS features provide lead-generation services which help SMBs expand and gain a competitive edge for less cost.
These features will also include applications to support marketing services. In this way, SAASs will provide not only the software for SMBs to thrive, but also the support services.