What is SaaS in Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing and SaaS have come to be used interchangeably over time. For the duration of this whitepaper, SaaS will be used to refer to the concept of both software-as-a-service and cloud computing. It will be used to describe a system whereby a client accesses the system off-premises via the internet and pays an on-going subscription fee.

Traditionally business software has been hosted in the client’s business – typically referred to as “in-house” or “on-premises” – on a client-owned server. The software is then integrated with the client’s current software and various systems to allow for the flow of information from one system to another. SaaS, however, is different.

SaaS is an acronym for Software-as-a-Service and is used to describe a relatively new means of accessing software applications. The name is derived from the nature of the deployment method in which a host organization allows clients access to its software as a service. Despite being around for more than 10 years, SaaS is a relatively new technology in the business environment which has exploded in popularity in recent years.

With SaaS, the software is no longer installed locally; it is instead hosted by the service organization/software provider. This means that the client organization need not install or run a server. Instead, information is sent through an interface to the host organization where it is processed by host-run software and sent back. SaaS was originally used primarily as a deployment method for sales force automation and Customer Relationship Management but is now deployed for a variety of business functions including:

Accounting, Email access, Enterprise Resource Planning, Document management, Service desk management. SaaS may be deployed via the web, or via the internet through a thin client. The primary characteristic of SaaS is that the software does not reside on the client’s premises meaning, inherently, that the software is accessed remotely and therefore can be accessed easily from anywhere. On-premises installations can also allow for remote access, however.


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