Are Google apps, Oracle, and Amazon web services familiar to you? These names have become almost household names, especially in this digital age. We now download or subscribe to Google apps with a simple tap or click of our mouse instead of going out and buying physical copies of these apps. These are some examples of SaaS or Software as Service.
Software as a Service (SaaS), together with Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and Platform as a service (PaaS), are the main categories for cloud computing. SaaS is a big market and its revenue has reached $14.5 billion as of 2012 and continues to grow. SaaS is very accessible and enables many companies to eliminate the use of hardware acquisition, maintenance, and the need to install and run applications using their data centers. The software vendors not only host but also maintain their servers and databases among others. Gaining access to data using SaaS is pretty easy. All you have to do is have any device with a web browser and internet connection. Compared to the one-time licensing used before, SaaS sold applications by subscription.
Now that we understand how SaaS works, here are some of the drawbacks that we should know in using this service.
- Data Safety and Access
This is one of the biggest concerns when it comes to SaaS. If there are third-party service providers involved, issues in access management, company data, and business processes will arise and would need attention. Compared to in-house software applications, SaaS rely on hosted solutions or a third party provider. Conducting extensive research on the methods of the vendors for data security, backup and restore is essential for businesses. Aside from this, data can be at risk when employees access it on outside connections that are not secured.
For consumers, the Service Level Agreement (SLA) should present the ownership of the data so paying attention when availing these services is very important.
- Vendors Going Out of Business
In the software industry, vendors may come and go due to business failure or industry consolidation. This can be a concern for vendors and consumers. However, some vendors allow for access to users even if this happens.
Consumers have to make sure that the agreement between them and the vendors allows them to export data from their provider. The SLA should state the duration and what type of format their data is accessible while the applications are still present.
- Internet and Operating System Limitations
Since SaaS can be accessed using a device that has a browser and internet connection, applications strongly rely on these. Consumers need to ensure their device is capable of handling applications based on their requirements and that they have a stable internet connection.
SaaS relies mainly on a stable internet connection and having downtime can interrupt your usage. Compare using Microsoft Word to Google Docs; MS Word is packed with more features compared to other platforms and can be used offline. Looking at this example, it can be troublesome especially for businesses since this can result in time and resource being wasted. Another issue is the compatibility of the devices. There are application software packages that are only compatible with Windows or Linux and can pose an issue with Mac users. Aside from this, functions and features vary and would need evaluation on the user’s part. However, as Mac users are growing, some SaaS companies support other web browsers now and enable all OS access to applications.
- Data Storage Regulations
When it comes to data storage, industries and countries have different regulations with data protection and this can be an issue. Businesses should implement SaaS models that align with the requirements.
- Unpredictable costs
Consumers were unsatisfied with the unpredictable costs of SaaS implementations. This is due to the low predictability in maintenance services and sales support among others.
SaaS presents very promising gains for businesses. It is accessible, versatile and customizable to users. However, SaaS do have its pitfalls and these should be considered especially on the company’s needs. Using this service is not for everyone and individuals looking for SaaS solutions should re-evaluate options before proceeding to this kind of services.