Software as a service: technical issues

The software as a service model is transforming the way companies, particularly SMBs do business. In our previous article we have reviewed data security and data ownership issues you need to take into account before adopting the SaaS model for your own business, but there are also technical considerations you must take into account. These are detailed below:

The bandwidth glass ceiling

The number one technical limitation of SaaS is that it relies on broadband and reliable internet connection. You are the best judge of whether your business has the internet connection required to keep your systems running 24-7. That said, no system, including on-site systems, is one hundred percent impervious to downtime. To overcome the particular vulnerability of the SaaS model, some SaaS vendors have integrated “offline” redundancies that enable your employees to keep on working even should the internet collapse. Once the system goes online, the data is resynced.

There is also the issue of Mac OS compatibility. Most onsite systems are designed for Linux or Windows. However, that is beginning to change, with more and more vendors supporting the Mac OS. In addition, the majority of SaaS providers are compatible with multiple web browsers, so SaaS applications are accessible regardless of your system of choice.

SaaS and Cloud computing. What’s the difference?

Well, there is a difference. The cloud is a networked system of servers, computers and databases connected in a way that enables users to rent access to benefit from their unified computational power. The buyers can flexibly increase or decrease exactly how much power they are actually renting.

So when we talk about cloud computing we are referring to any program, service or application that is remotely hosted and internet deliverable. But when we are talking about SaaS, we are referring specifically to dedicated business software apps that are cloud deliverable.

So what’s a private cloud?

Basically, it means squeezing all of the technology infrastructure in a public cloud into on-site storage. So the user experience is similar – his data is accessible through a web browser and he can reach and share with everyone on the private cloud. But the computing power of the infrastructure is shared among company users, not the general public. And the company will need to retain a heavily staffed IT department, with all of its attendant overhead to handle maintenance of the private cloud – which will typically be far more expensive than installing conventional systems on-site. What this means in practice is that the private cloud model is really only an attractive option for large, well established enterprises. Still, the benefit is that your proprietary information is far from prying eyes – an advantage that leads some large companies dealing with sensitive information to select this option.

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