I thought I’d give a lightning rundown of the various benefits of SaaS and perceived drawbacks of SaaS and its little-understood younger brother DaaS.

Software as a Service (SaaS)
* No need to manage software – it’s outsourced
* Service not product payment model more affordable for smaller companies
* Any issues/upgrades as flagged up by one consumer can be implemented and the benefits shared by all
* Rolling payment model means SaaS providers must maintain a good relationship with their clients
* Licence for a range of devices, not one static machine – use the same software on different hardware anywhere you want

Data as a Service (DaaS)
* No need to manage data – it’s outsourced
* Data kept up-to-date on rolling schedule (very important)
* Lots of opportunity for customising the software that uses the data, or at least the UI – & lots of mashup opportunities
* Rolling payment model means DaaS providers must maintain a good relationship with their clients
* Data can be accessed by a range of devices, not one static machine – and different software and UIs, with different permissions

Perceived drawbacks of SaaS

“No customization” – you don’t get the software built specifically for your needs but have to instead subscribe to a universal service

Rebuttal:
The core market for SaaS is the small and medium-sized businesses that will benefit from SaaS’s easy-to-digest payment model.  These companies probably already have to use out-of-the-box software rather than custom-built offerings.  And if it’s the data rather than the software proper that’s outsourced (see below) then there’s a massive (and in fact greater) degree of flexibility.

“The pricing isn’t as transparent as a one-off sum”

Rebuttal:
Well, what could be?!  More clear and transparent pricing models are needed for this sector… but at the same time, consumers aren’t sure of how much they’ll use the service and whether it represents good value for money.  This is a justified concern for the consumer, but as ever, it’s just unfamiliarity with the system of payment that’s the final stumbling block.

“Complete reliance on the Internet to provide the service

Rebuttal:
More and more of a company’s infrastructure is dependent on the Internet anyway… it is, however, prudent to go with a SaaS provider with a track record and promise of 99.999% availability!

Perceived drawbacks of DaaS

“Lack of security when data is ‘in the cloud'”

Rebuttal:
There is no lack of security, only lack of control – and as you may have been told the last time you were automatically denied access from installing something on your work computer, lack of control is part and parcel of a tight security system; what could be better than data held in one place and looked after by true experts?

“Complete reliance on the Internet to serve the data”

Rebuttal:
More and more of a company’s infrastructure is dependent on the Internet anyway… it is, however, prudent to go with a DaaS provider with a track record and promise of 99.999% availability!

CONCLUSION

My conclusion is that while there are a few concerns about SaaS and DaaS, it’s more to do with unfamiliarity of the processes involved than any inherent problems with the solutions.  As we become more and more interconnected and mobile, these sorts of solutions will become the only viable ones. The apparent failure of earlier cloud computing models (namely ASP) was more due to limitations on the Internet infrastructure than anything else.

If you would like to try out any of TheWebServices SaaS and DaaS solutions, there are free trials available at The Web Service website.  They certainly don’t cost a fair whack.