Security, Scalability, Stability: Why SaaS is More Than a Delivery Method

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Traditional software is costing you an arm and a leg –licensing, maintenance, support, and people you employee to keep everything working like clockwork.

But does it have to be that way?

Of course not. Traditional software is a dinosaur that’s slowly fading out and getting replaced by something that’s more cost-effective, easier to maintain, and does not require you to employ a dedicated IT team around the clock.

The name of the game?

Software as a service or SaaS solutions. SaaS solutions cost three times less than traditional software solutions. On top of that they are scalable, more efficient, and, quite frankly, a whole lot less headache for you and your company.

So exactly how SaaS compares with the traditional approach that is biting the dust today and why you need to consider embracing this change.

SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS – Who Uses What and Why

Software as a Service enables clients to access applications that they require for day to day operations using only a web browser – downloads and installations are not required. It replaces on-premise software and eliminates cost associated with maintenance and support.

SaaS vendors are also starting to focus on the service part of the premise. Since clients are trying to outsource most of the non-essential administration associated with the tools, SaaS is increasingly becoming Software with a service. Since expense management is a great example of non-core business process that increases the cost of doing business, we here at Xpenditure are more than happy to offer this type of process management as an added benefit to our clients. Xpenditure, Google Apps, and Salesforce are just some examples of successful SaaS models.

PaaS stands for ‘Platform as a Service’ and is geared toward application development – end users are mostly software and application developers. PaaS allows clients to create applications using ‘middleware’ – components built into the PaaS – similar to how you would use Excel to create macros. PaaS increases productivity and decreases an application’s time-to-market. Apprenda, Google App Engine, and Windows Azure are all PaaS models.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) comes in handy when you need to blow up your data center capabilities for a period of time. It saves you the cost of investing in hardware and allows you to manage and monitor remote data center infrastructures. Some examples include Cisco Metapod and Amazon Web Services.

Benefits of Cloud-based Software Solutions

SaaS solutions have an upper hand when compared to traditional software solutions in almost all areas that you as a business will care about.

  • The Cost Angle

On average, you’ll pay three times less for SaaS licensing. On-premise perpetual solutions require you to pay upfront and are usually an all-in deal. Although some software can be leased or subscribed to for a period of time, these are still few and far in between.

With SaaS solutions, you decide when you pay and how much you pay – there are monthly, quarterly, or yearly subscription plans for most SaaS solutions and providers usually offer discounts depending on a number of users and the length of period you’re subscribing to.

  • Hosting

When investing in an on-premise system, be prepared to blow your planned budget because things will crop up. Some of your hardware won’t be up to snuff so you will have to buy new one. Or your servers won’t be able to carry the load so you will have to do some investing there too.

The point is; all of this adds up and your cost can end up being significantly higher than what you initially planned.

On the other hand, everything you need to run your SaaS solution is a working computer with internet access. Since everything is hosted remotely by the vendor you will not have to invest in anything to get things up and running.

  • Security, Data Back-up, and Upgrades

If you have an on-premise solution then you’re at the deep end – and seriously so. The security that you have is the one that you’ve implemented yourself –nothing more, nothing less. Back-ups? Forget about them if you’re not doing them on a regular basis. Upgrades? You’ll pay. Sometimes a newer version of the software will be rolled out and you might be lucky to get it for free. Most of the time you should be ready to incur some cost in the upgrade process.

With SaaS, you’re pretty much set when it comes to security and upgrades. Upgrades are always incremental to ensure that downtime is kept to a minimum.

Back-ups might be included in the deal but that will depend on the vendor – make sure to check what gets backed up and how often.

  • Personnel Cost

Personnel cost is a big part of the reason why more and more companies are deciding to go with a SaaS solution for their business needs. With it, all maintenance, setup, and upgrade costs are transferred to the vendor.

However, when you’re using on-premise software solutions you need to have a dedicated IT team that is going to deal with everything from initial setup to system maintenance and crisis management. Sometimes those people will work overtime to make sure that systems are back up and running as soon as possible – yet another cost for you to absorb.

With SaaS, you’ll probably have one person that’s going to be responsible for data back-up, along with basic troubleshooting and their other duties. And that’s it.

Cloud Security and Privacy

We mentioned it briefly but since it’s a major concern for businesses it merits an in-depth analysis. The answer to the question of whether or not cloud computing –and by extension, SaaS services – is secure would be: it depends but it’s not riskier than any on-site solution!

It depends on a myriad of things, from the vendor you’re using to how responsibly you’re handing it on your end. Cloud is vulnerable to attacks and different service providers have been attacked in the past – a large service provider, Zendesk, was not spared either.

When it comes to data hacking, vendors are doing all in their power to prevent attacks and cloud security architecture implements measures that broadly fall into one of the following categories:

  • Deterrent measures – an equivalent of a fence; a warning that signals to trespassers that they will be harshly dealt with.
  • Preventive measures – a set of controls that severely reduces the likelihood of an attack, although doesn’t entirely eliminate it.
  • Detective measures – systems controls that detect intrusion and trigger preventive and corrective measures.
  • Corrective measures – a set of controls that is triggered after a breach is detected. They limit the damage and keep track of incidents.

Even though incidents are not unheard of, most experts agree that even a public cloud might be more secure than a business’ internal data center – it all depends on how committed you are to protecting your data.

More than 500 ‘Global 1000’ companies use cloud-based services today. They’ve realized that gains by far outweigh the risks.

There are things you as a company can – and should – do to ensure your data is protected. Before you even get started you want to make sure that you own your data. At Xpenditure, we manage your systems but your data is your own – we don’t access it nor do we have a reason to do that. Most cloud-based SaaS vendors understand that this is a primary concern of many businesses and will extend the same courtesy of making sure that you remain the sole owner of your data. Still, you will want to check that.

Other things you can do are:

  1. Make sure you’re using a trusted vendor – quality service providers won’t have a problem with sharing an extensive user list that you can use to double-check whether or not the service is reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Ensuring that your vendor holds relevant certifications – this is necessary to confirm that they follow industry’s best practices. Good vendors will hold at least several certificates from pertinent third-party sources.
  1. Don’t keep everything on a cloud – it doesn’t belong there. If it’s not needed for use by third-party applications, store it internally. Proprietary information should be kept especially safe.
  1. Use security software – just because the vendor is providing certain security measures doesn’t mean that you can be lax when it comes to them. Make sure all the devices are running antivirus software and that your employees know how to protect their access.
  1. Audit your security measures regularly – the vendor will provide you with a regular update of the security measures as well as with any audit information they have. Still, you want to hire a reliable third-party to check things from your end.
Boris Bogaert

Posted by Boris Bogaert

CEO & Co-founder of Xpenditure.

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