Thursday, August 4, 2011

What is SaaS / Cloud Computing? - Guest Post by ERP Analyst.

Read below the Guest Post of  Derek Singleton, an ERP Analyst.
If you're involved in enterprise tech in any way, then you're probably familiar with software as a service (SaaS). However, if you're a business or prospective software buyer, then you're probably aren't as in tune with the SaaS, or "cloud computing" phenomenon. At Software Advice, we speak to software buyers on a daily basis that are curious about SaaS but they have a lot of questions about the technology. 

To help answer some of these questions in a systematic way, I recently put together a guide that answers the top ten questions that we frequently hear from software buyers. I'd like to share the top three that we hear on a consistent basis. 

1. Is My Data Going to Be Safe?

This is far and away the number one question that we get asked. It's an understandable reservation that people have but it seems like more of a distractor than anything. When you consider how widespread payroll processing and timesheet tracking programs like Timesheet are, it's a bit perplexing as to why people are so worried about the safety of their data. In the case of a program like Timesheet, the data is protected in a data center that probably spends more on data security measures than any internal IT program could afford. Furthermore, it removes the need for paper tracking systems which saves time, money, and paper. The benefits far outweigh the unlikely event of your data getting compromised. 

2. Who Owns The Data?

After security, this is the next question that gets brought up. Most businesses want to protect every competitive advantage that they have. This is perfectly understandable. In any respectable SaaS program, you remain the owner of your data. Most SaaS contracts, known as service level agreements (SLAs), also contain a provision that explicitly spells out that you're the owner of your data and it's yours to keep no matter what. If this is a concern that you have, read through the contract to make sure there is some a clause that clearly spells out the ownership of data. If you can't find this anywhere in the contract, that's a red flag and you probably shouldn't sign with this vendor. However, no respectable vendor would insist on keeping your data. 

3. Is SaaS New?

Although SaaS is only starting to gain a foothold in the enterprise technology market, it's not very new. In fact, the idea of SaaS has been around since the 1960's but the technology didn't come around until later. It's arguable when the first SaaS program actually cropped up, but we started to see the technology rear it's head in the 1990's. By the late 1990's some of today's the most powerful SaaS companies were getting founded. The world's most prominent business software SaaS vendor, Salesforce, actually got it's start in 1998. Since it's founding, Salesforce has grown by leaps and bounds. Today, they have more than 100,000 customers and several million users. As SaaS gains more recognition, SaaS companies will only gain in prominence and power. 

If you'd like to see the rest of the questions that I answer on my blog at Software Advice, please visit: What is SaaS? 10 Frequently Asked Questions About Software as a Service.
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Mike Bosch said...

I was looking to understand the SaaS and Cloud Computing. Found your blog very informative and useful.

Dmitry said...

Good article. I think another big concern regarding SaaS and Cloud computing is downtime. Amazon (Amazon Web Services) has had a few known occurrences of server down time effecting many SaaS companies. Moving forward Cloud providers will have to find ways improve this.

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