Back to Basics: What is Software as a Service (SaaS)?

Author: Kristina Proffitt

6th July 2017

Software as a Service (often referred to as SaaS) is a type of software that’s become popular with both businesses and consumers alike.

Everything from email clients and calendars to payment services and booking systems can be classed as SaaS, depending on how it’s built.

Cronofy is a SaaS startup that connects users’ calendars to software via APIs.

But what does SaaS actually mean? Why are both businesses and consumers embracing this model over traditional package software?

What is SaaS?

SaaS is a form of cloud computing where everything a user needs is hosted in the cloud and made available to users via the internet.

There are two other forms of cloud computing, which we’ll cover in a future blog post: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS).

SaaS has taken over both B2B and B2C solutions because of its ease of use, scalability, and accessibility.

Twenty years ago, if you wanted the latest version of a product, you’d have to purchase it on a CD-Rom and install it onto your hard drive. Installation could take hours, and within a year or two your product risked being out-of-date.

These days, if you want the latest version of a product you may not even need to install it onto your hard drive. You definitely won’t need a CD-Rom.

Everything is hosted in the cloud

Upgrading computer hardware is a costly investment, and it doesn’t take long for new hardware becomes obsolete.

When companies use cloud-based software, they don’t need to worry about having the most powerful computers to run the latest software. SaaS products work on even the smallest of hard drives with the tiniest of RAM.

The SaaS company are responsible for any maintenance, so there’s no waiting around for software updates to install – updates are pushed out for everyone at the same time.

It’s more secure

Hosting data in the cloud doesn’t mean compromising on data security. With a traditional model, there’s an entry point into the server for each of employee, but with SaaS, there’s one secure, unique entry point for all.

It allows different products and services to connect

Many SaaS products can connect to each other using APIs.

Cronofy, for example, connects software to a user’s calendar using calendar APIs for Google Calendar, iCloud, Microsoft Office, and Exchange.

We also allow users of Slack, Trello, and Evernote to connect their calendars to the applications. This allows users to set reminders for looming deadlines, and even receive notifications of them.

If these products weren’t SaaS, this wouldn’t be possible.

It’s accessible on multiple devices

Because everything is hosted in the cloud, the product, and any information stored, are accessible on any device.

A Buffer post can be added or edited on your work PC, your laptop on your way to a business meeting, or from your phone when you’re at home. They’ll all be sent out to your social media channels at the same time regardless of how they were added to your Buffer queue.

Should your device fail, you won’t lose any data. You can pick up where you left off on a different device straight away.

Sometimes products can be downloaded from the cloud

In some – but not all – cases, products can be downloaded from the cloud and onto your hard drive so that it’s still accessible offline.

Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop are examples of this.

Pricing is flexible

SaaS pricing scales based on usage.

How it’s worked out depends on the business model, but it can be based on the number of users or API calls.

This means that pricing isn’t a one-size-fits-all model and is therefore as accessible for individuals and small companies as it is for big corporations.

Conclusion

As the digital world continues to grow, SaaS will continue to grow alongside IaaS and PaaS.

Taking advantage of SaaS allows businesses to spend less time and money on server maintenance, and gives smaller businesses chance to use the best software for the job without the huge price tag that used to come along with it.

Find out more about Cronofy

Find out more about how the Cronofy SaaS API works. Book your demo today!

Avatar of Kristina Proffitt

Kristina Proffitt

Date: 6th July 2017 | Category: Back to Basics