One way or another, you’ve probably heard about Software as a Service. But what is SaaS exactly, and more importantly, how can ventures make the most out of its benefits?

In this article, we’ll discuss what is SaaS and look at SaaS examples commonly used today. We’ll also discuss how similar or different it is from PaaS or Platform as a Service.

What is SaaS?

Before we delve into its benefits and how it works, first, let’s discuss what is SaaS. SaaS stands for Software as a Service. It’s basically a cloud-based software that allows clients to access it over the Internet. The data center hosts the service provider’s application while a customer gets access to it through a web browser. SaaS is also sometimes called on-demand software or hosted software.

History of SaaS

Understanding SaaS involves learning about its history and how it came to be as ubiquitous as it is today. According to references, SaaS was created in the 1960s and has been developed since. During that time, users didn’t refer to it as cloud computing. Instead, people called it the “time-sharing system.”

This time-sharing system involved terminals that were connected to a mainframe. The data and apps remained on the mainframe, which was typically a hub-and-spoke system. To use the system, the user entered the input through the terminal keyboard. Then, the mainframe sent the output to the terminal monitor. This process was one of the earliest forms of connecting computers and is a precedent for what we know now as the Internet.  

The process gave way for small businesses, government arms, and academic organizations to gain access to modern computer systems more affordably. This system continued to flourish in the 70s and 80s. Despite computers coming in smaller sizes and becoming cheaper every year, many still rely on SaaS because of the less cost it requires.

Benefits of SaaS

Here are some of the benefits a reliable SaaS typically offers its users:

Less Software Installation Time

If you’ve had an encounter with older software, then you’ve probably installed and configured an app on your device. This takes time, based on the size of the file. Because the app or software is already installed and configured in SaaS, it’s quickly available through the cloud. Added to that, using cloud-based software can also save you time and even device storage space.

Reduced Costs

In the past, users needed an installer and a license to use a software or app on their computer. Thanks to hosted software, however, this cost is reduced. Because the software is in a shared or multi-tenant setting, the service comes in cheaper. SaaS products usually come on a subscription basis, which users can pay monthly or yearly. Due to this feature, more small and medium ventures can afford software crucial for their business.

Capacity to Integrate and Scale

Because it’s managed from a central location and hosted on a remote server, distance isn’t a factor. People don’t have to be in the same building, city, or country to work together. This function allows companies to foster remote collaboration and scale beyond borders. 

Added to that, creators can design most SaaS to combine with other software that is also cloud-based. In the same vein, you can easily scale SaaS, compared to old apps and software.

Fast Upgrades

Unlike older software versions that require users to use an upgrade, they need to install, SaaS products don’t. In fact, upgrades apply to the cloud-based software without the users having to do anything.

Ease of Use

Last but not least, SaaS providers make their products easy to use. Creators design most solutions using best practices. The solutions also aim to fulfill functions that enable the app to assist the user in the best way possible. There’s nothing easier and simpler than opening software right from your browser.

Examples of SaaS

Below are some SaaS examples that are typically used by firms today.

G Suite

This is a suite of software, tools, and products related to collaboration, productivity, and cloud computing. Google Cloud created this suite and initially launched it in 2006. The suite offers a unified package that ties up a venture’s Google needs. 

It puts everything you need in one dashboard, including Gmail, Hangouts Chat, and Hangouts Meet. The suite segments can also include Google Docs, Sheets, and Forms, as well as Google Drive and Cloud Search. 

Microsoft Office 365

Gone are the days when you’d have to buy a DVD installer to get the latest version of the suite. Now, you can get the license for its products through a service subscription. The suite offers the firm’s premier products, including the basics – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. 

Added to that, the suite also offers access to OneDrive, SharePoint, OneNote, Yammer, Microsoft Teams, and more. As mentioned above, one of the benefits of this SaaS suite is that updates are promptly available both on desktop and online versions of the office apps. 

Dropbox

If you’re always worried about not having enough storage space, Dropbox is a good SaaS for you. This file hosting service provides not just cloud storage, but also personal cloud, file sync, and client software.

The concept behind this service is simple. It’s like having a remote folder that you can update anytime, using different devices. With a “freemium” business model, you can access the basic service for free. But you can get paid packages if you need the add-ons that come with them. Some of the extras you can get with a paid package are more storage space and advanced sharing controls.

HubSpot

Hubspot offers a cluster of software used by ventures for sales, marketing, and customer service. It also comes with a free CRM, which allows users to track and organize communication with clients and prospects. 

The software’s Marketing Hub allows users to form leads and automate marketing efforts. It also gives users analytics they can use to strengthen their campaign further. The Sales Hub, on the other hand, offers email tracking and meeting planning. It also allows for email automation. Last but not least, the Service Hub will enable firms to manage tickets with less effort. It also has a feature for taking and organizing client feedback.

Zendesk

Somehow akin to the former, Zendesk is a software firm that helps clients manage their customer service through support and sales. Zendesk’s support products allow the venture’s reps to answer clients’ queries across various channels. This feature can translate to more fruitful customer service agents and higher shopper satisfaction. 

On the other hand, their sales feature, Zendesk Sell, assists reps in selling the venture’s products. It provides tools that give reps a full context of the client’s account. By keeping everyone on the loop, the system allows the team to spot stronger leads. The system also offers an instant data capture feature, which makes tracking easier.

Shopify

This is one of the most popular eCommerce platforms in the market today. It offers a one-stop-shop for selling, marketing, and managing a venture. The platform allows you to set up shop with their built-in themes and store features. It also offers tools for starting a venture, including a business name generator, web address, and a stock photo library. 

What makes the platform unique is its crucial online selling features, such as checkout, buy button, and point of sale. Aside from these features, Shopify integrates with Facebook Shop as well as Facebook Messenger.

Slack

This cloud-based instant-messaging platform is an invaluable tool for firms that thrive on collaboration across the globe. Priding itself as a smart alternative to email, Slack offers an organized dashboard for conversations. Slack aims to help avoid overstuffed inboxes. Its goal is to boost business productivity through dedicated communication channels and convo prioritization. The service allows users to work in channels, encouraging everyone to have a shared view of the team’s purpose and progress. 

SaaS vs. PaaS

If you’ve heard of SaaS application options before, you’re also probably familiar with the term, PaaS, which stands for Platform as a Service. 

PaaS has a similar delivery model to SaaS. However, instead of delivering the software through the Internet, PaaS offers a platform that enables software creation. The platform is also available on the Internet. Thus, programmers can create software without the hassle of maintaining storage, operating systems, updates, and others. 

Some of the most common PaaS examples include Windows Azure, Google App Engine, AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Force.com, Heroku, Apache Stratos, and OpenShift. 

SaaS vs. IaaS

Aside from PaaS, there’s also what we call IaaS or Infrastructure as a Service. IaaS is a self-service resource used for computer access and monitoring as well as storage, and other services. 

Some of the most-used IaaS products are Linode, Amazon Web Services, DigitalOcean, Rackspace, Cisco Metapod, Microsoft Azure, and Google Compute Engine (GCE). 

So there you have it – SaaS overview and SaaS basics. Now that you understand what it is and how it works, take the time to check out available SaaS solutions that can make your business operations a lot easier and more efficient.