There are many different "as a Service" products, and Software as a Service is just one of them. Here we take a closer look at what it is and how you can use it.
What is Software as a Service?
As you might be able to tell from the name, Software as a Service (SaaS) is a service you can subscribe to on a monthly basis. The trick with SaaS is that the software is localized on a remote server - so it's not local to your device.
Typically, you will find SaaS in web browsers, where a user needs some login information to access the software. This avoids downloading software to your device. You can access the software from all your devices, as long as you have the password and login to the website.
The principle of SaaS stems from the many cloud-based storage apps that many companies, as well as individuals, use for documents and file sharing. It's easy and accessible when you just need to log in to a web browser, rather than having to open local applications on your device.
Before SaaS, companies had to buy and install software using hard drives, plugging them into the devices to update the programs. Therefore, it was a very time-consuming process for larger companies as they had to go around to each employee and update their computer.
Things are a little different with SaaS. When using SaaS, users can go directly into servers on the internet and see the server or file they want. Users of SaaS range from tech companies, private people, financial firms, entertainment companies and general business firms. So it's a feature that suits a broad target audience.
The history of SaaS
You can link the functions of SaaS to the "time-sharing" that was developed in the 1950s and 1960s. It was intended to make processing time as fast and cheap to use as possible.
As hardware and computing devices became cheaper to use, companies moved to individual ownership of devices. Here, companies had to use the devices locally and they had to be physically present in the workplace - but this required individual updating of the computers. And this had to be done physically and manually, not as we know it today.
With the advent of the internet in the 1990s, the 'online cloud' also saw the light of day. This allowed companies to update and access software from wherever they were sitting. In 1999, the company Salesforce became the leading developer and consumer of SaaS technology. Both start-up companies and tech giants such as Microsoft, Oracle and SAP were eager to use the technology.
The SaaS provider holds the software that the customer needs - the provider activates and ships the software as soon as the customer is approved to receive it. All this happens over the internet - nothing is local. Users access the software via the internet and get a single copy of the program that the provider has made for SaaS. As updates and new features are released, the provider can send them directly to its customers.
Nowadays, SaaS can be found everywhere.
Advantages and disadvantages of SaaS
As with any other technology, there are pros and cons to SaaS.
The first and most obvious advantage of SaaS is the availability and speed of sharing files and software. Using SaaS is faster and more efficient as you are as up-to-date as you can possibly be when using SaaS.
It also avoids a more serious commitment to the software because it's in the cloud - a business doesn't have to invest in new hardware if there are bugs in the system; it can be updated quickly and easily via a browser.
SaaS consists of several different programs, including email servers, auditing functions, automatic sign-up to various "as a service" products, document management and CRM (customer relationship management) systems.
If you use CRM SaaS, you can keep information on customer contact details, business activities, product history and sales lead updates.
In addition, SaaS:
- Accessible everywhere
- Cheap to use
- Easy to implement and update
At the heart of the disadvantages of SaaS is cyber security. By having everything online and via browsers, there is a greater risk of the data and software being compromised. Therefore, there is more pressure on employees, as they are the main reason why companies are hit by cyber attacks. Therefore, awareness training is essential for every company.
Customers also need to have a high level of confidence that the data is stored correctly and securely, as it is a external storage provider.
Slow internet can lead to poor performance of programs and systems - you will not have this problem if the software is hosted locally onyour device.
You may also risk not being able to control SaaS due to distance (and poor connections). This minimizes customization.
To sum up, then:
- There are greater cybersecurity risks associated with SaaS.
- Slower speed.
- Lack of control.
- Lack of customization.
A few examples
One example that many are familiar with is Google Docs, launched back in 2021. Google Docs lets users share, edit and view documents - all online, so there's no need to send documents and files back and forth by email.
In conjunction with Docs, you can also look at Google Drive and Google Workspace, as SaaS. That's file sharing across devices, as well as across people.
Like Google Drive, Dropbox lets you share files and documents among each other. It's also a cloud-based storage service that many businesses use on a daily basis.
So SaaS enables businesses and individuals alike to access software and files from anywhere in the world.
Today, SaaS is available and supports many different services, including
In other words..
When you look at Software as a Service, it has changed the way we share files with each other. It has become faster and easier, but of course, there are always risks associated with online file sharing.
Beyond file sharing, SaaS has made it easier for us to use applications and streaming services - we don't need to download files and applications to function. This ensures less download traffic, which minimizes the risk of downloading malicious software that hackers use to infiltrate our systems.
Of course, there are risks in using SaaS, but the development of SaaS shows the future of file sharing and document storage - it will be on the cloud. Focusing on online storage ensures that security will be improved and increased even more than it already is.
Caroline is a copywriter here at Moxso beside her education. She is doing her Master's in English and specializes in translation and the psychology of language. Both fields deal with communication between people and how to create a common understanding - these elements are incorporated into the copywriting work she does here at Moxso.View all posts by Caroline Preisler