Software as a service or SaaS is mainly a license to a service that is web-based and available for use through subscriptions. SaaS applications are the ones that offer on-demand online services with subscriptions to avail them.
Cloud computing is an umbrella term that brings under itself many kinds of services which are:
• Software as a service or SaaS
• Platform as a service or PaaS
• Information Technology Management as a service ITMaaS
• Managed software as a service or MSaaS
• Desktop as a service or DaaS
• Datacenter as a service or DCaaS
• Mobile backend as a service or MBaaS.
Software as a service
In simple terms, SaaS is the method of delivering software and applications to the clients in the form of service. Software as a service is majorly for the use of businesses and marketing. It is mainly applicable for businesses whose clients operate from a web browser or are using online applications.
For example, Fynzo Survey, SurveyMonkey, and many more are SaaS businesses that provide the software they created in the form of subscriptions or plans. Similarly, video streaming platforms like YouTube and Netflix provide their users with software which the users purchase to enjoy the service of watching videos online.
These software use the programming languages like Java, Python, and SQL.
Types of Software as a service applications
- Communication Relationship Management or CRM
- E-commerce and web hosting
- Social media platforms
- Human resource management or HRM
- Accounting software
- Vertical SaaS
- Project management
- Operating payments software
- Graphic designing tools
- Video streaming service
- Customer support service
Characteristics of Software as a service
There are some characteristics and features that a SaaS application needs to have or should have for it to be used by any across the World.
- Data security: All kinds of Software as a service applications boast of their security solutions for the data that the user enters. These security methods and options differ for different types of SaaS applications but a minimum level of data protection is necessary for every type of SaaS product. Every product displays the steps taken for protecting the sensitive data of the users when they advertise it. Information about the business or user should be protected from unauthorized access.
- Subscription-based usage: Software as a Service programs generally use the system of providing different types of plans based on the features to theirs. Users can opt for any plan according to what they require and pay for its usage for a fixed time. Since it is a subscription-based purchase, the user can discontinue the services any time he wants and can stop payment. This system of subscription-based usage gives the users the liberty to start using the service and stop using it at any time of their convenience.
- Multi-tenancy: An application of Software as a Service(SaaS) handles multiple tenancies. This means that many users can use the same application and features and interface but maintaining their own data security individually. All the customers get the same resources and the same accessibility to fully go about with their activities. It is similar to renting rooms in hotels. Many visitors stay at a hotel for some time and stay in the same building, avail same facilities but still each of them has the privacy in their individual room that they are renting.
- Flexibility and scalability: These Software as a Service systems have flexibility. It can provide the user or the business with any amount of resources that they may require and withdraw them when they do not need them. This shows scalability in usage. Features and their uses can scale up and down depending on the demand. So, a user does not get stuck with limited resources or resources which he does not need for the time being.
- Accessible through a network: A user can access the Software as a service application through a network connection on any device with which it may be compatible. It is the most important criteria for operating a SaaS platform. Without a network connection, it will not be able to deliver the work.
- Service is measurable: The user is charged according to the service provided. The Software as a service platform measures the total amount of usage of the user and then charges him on a periodic basis. Sometimes the user may also pay for the services and the amount which he will be using and the SaaS application provides him just that much thus keeping in check the usage of all their users.
- Unique sign-in: Since SaaS applications work on the basis of subscription, an individual needs an account to sign up for taking the advantage of the features. So, in such applications, the user needs to sign up for the software and create a unique user identity. This is essential for security issues and identification. The user will want to use the services he opts for himself and not let anyone else. So, unique sign-in is done by everyone.
- Automated service: SaaS should always be able to operate automatically. The services that the user wants are pre-programmed into the software so that the same result turns out in the same commands. Every user gets the same output automatically by inputting the same commands. Also, the application automatically withdraws service after the time period that the user subscribes or when the user wants to discontinue service. Performing functions takes no time at all.
- Availability: You can at times consider software as a service as a product. So, as a product, it is highly available for anyone who looks for it in a search engine. If you have a stable internet connection and a device, you can find such applications anywhere. Generally, they are accessible throughout the day every day. Unlike traditional services, this provides services round the clock. It has no such thing as “closed for service”.
- Updates: These type of applications update their software for better performance. It also updates itself automatically without the user taking up any hassle. Updates help the software run smoothly than it does. Updates also add on more perks and extra features from which the user can benefit. It helps in the system maintenance of the application as well.
- Feedbacks: Most of the Software as a Service(SaaS) applications provide scope for its customers to leave their feedbacks. This is possible either through the application itself or through external software. Feedbacks help the company to enhance the functioning of the platform according to whatever the customers demand.
- Storage: Many of the SaaS applications provide a cloud storage system for storing data of the user. This is also quite common among many software.
Steps to create a SaaS application
1. Determination of product and Conducting market research: The first and most important step is to determine what kind of SaaS application you want to create. Deciding on a product requires a lot of thought. The product should be able to answer the question “why a person might need it?”. There should be strong cases for which a person might use that kind of software as a service.
It should answer two points:
• What problems it will solve for customers
• And is there a scope for the development of the application.
By conducting market research using different methods, you will be able to understand how much of the population the product can serve and all the competitors in the market. If there are many established competitors, it is likely that your outreach might not be huge. So, you need to keep in mind various actors that can affect your business.
2. Establishing requirements: You need to also determine what the SaaS platform may require before building it. Understanding what basic features need to be present is the key to delivering great service. For example, security and protection is very important for any application. You also need to decide what all activities and tools should be available for the users so that they can complete their work.
3. Minimum viable product: The first stage of creating the application should be such that it has the basic and minimum facilities for users. By creating a minimum viable product, you can keep the scope for the development of the product. This ensures that growth does not remain stagnant.
4. Programming language: The most important aspect for creating a SaaS application is a programming language. Some of the popular ones are Java and Python. The programmer needs to input certain instructions. This is for the working of the software so that it automatically performs tasks that the customers want it to perform. You can choose the programming languages to build the software.
5. Determine the subscription type: You need to decide what type of subscription you want to offer to the customers. It maybe a free service but offers additional benefits if the customer purchases them. It can also be like a subscription plan for signing in and using all the resources of the product. For this type, there is no free usage. Users can also do the payment after they have used it based on the amount of usage. Some plans are available on the basis of periodic payments like a month or year.
6. Create an interactive interface: The availability of the software as a service platforms are huge and in par with the demand. So, the application needs to be attractive and have an easy to use and easy to interact interface. Customers are most likely to try out one which has a great design and framework and portrays attractive features.
7.Customer feedback: The users or customers should have an option to give their feedback. These feedbacks will help you build an enhanced version of the software and help you with future updates. Allowing customer feedback also instills a sense of confidence in the minds of the customers. It shows that the business concerns itself with what a customer may want.
Software as a service system has taken the world by storm. Almost every activity is possible through such systems. The competition among such applications are also huge as more and more people are using these. These platforms are highly profitable and also have a large rate of growth. It is the ideal way of providing automatic service.