22 Sep SaaS & Cloud Computing – A Match Made in Heaven
SaaS services need the cloud. Without the cloud, SaaS cannot exist.
The core concept of Software-as-as-Service is to be able to access ready-made software via the internet. This revolutionary method of service provision is affordable by being delivered through subscription costing. But the entire model hinges on cloud provision and delivery being both effective, secure, and affordable for both the vendor and the developer.
Where did the cloud come from?
The cloud as a concept can be traced back to the 1960s and the creation of ARPANET, or what is now considered a precursor to the internet.
However, it was in the ’90s that companies such as AT&T and CompuServe started offering packages of data storage as part of their service, with AT&T specifically being one of the first to do this on the web exclusively. They advertised this system as “you can think of our electronic meeting place as the cloud.”
AWS entered the market in 2006, and now cloud hosting is the front line in data storage and the core tenet of packaged solutions available via the internet.
However, there are numerous cloud service models and different types of data storage. Let’s analyse:
SaaS is one of three cloud service models, with the other two being IaaS and PaaS.
IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service): instead of outsourcing data, applications or OS management, IaaS solutions are for companies that only want to third-party their data centre and resources, such as servers and visualisation.
PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service): this is where a company can access the framework to build applications. The vendor manages only the data required to build the tools, and the company must manage their OS.
There are three types of cloud storage:
Hosted object storage service
- This is how Facebook, for example, hosts and stores pictures – treating data like objects, which means simple storage of massive amounts of unstructured data.
- Simply put, file storage separates data out into files for retrieving and searching.
- Blocking storage is used to package and read tracts of data in secure blocks, improving access to data.
How does SaaS benefit from the cloud?
SaaS developers use certain aspects of each of these cloud services, and cloud service providers do so mostly across multi-site server networks.
SaaS is also a full spectrum solution, with companies (especially smaller ones) relying on SaaS services to not only look after data collated and visualisation but also application creation and security.
The cloud, therefore, provides a secure and accessible service for developers and companies looking to outsource much of the technical aspects of their enterprise and do so for a sustainable fee.
File hosting and storage is where SaaS services in the main focus of their security efforts – the unique architecture of SaaS, and how file access and data security are of paramount importance, meaning that as more and more people use SaaS, more and more vulnerabilities arise in file transfer and access. One breach and the edifice could collapse.
There are, of course, reservations with SaaS, as there are with any platform or managed service that includes data management and access: due to the decentralised nature of SaaS services, incident reporting, patching and reports of breaches can be delayed or opaquely communicated, any major changes to OS, design, UX or pricing are out of a buyers’ hands.
This is by no means common, and is more indicative of a breakdown in communication rather than a fundamental failing of the tech. The vendor of the SaaS solution must continue to provide continuity of service to secure a revenue stream, so major changes are few and far between.
Adaptability and the Cloud
Well-renowned SaaS developers are also, famously, adaptable in making their SaaS programmes easy to integrate with other programmes. This cloud plays a huge part in this.
Via API’s, companies can write their own software and integrate it within SaaS platforms, creating usable, hybrid platforms capable of completing any task and flexible enough for customers or other developers to tweak their offering. Those developers may also be using cloud service providers.
SaaS, hosted on the cloud, embodies flexibility – the customisable nature of some SaaS developers means companies can collaborate and perfect service offerings and, where appropriate, roll out improvements to gain higher revenue from. All the data, security and hosting are still managed by your cloud third party.
Data storage and access is also adaptable. A customer’s service-level agreement will determine where data is stored and for what purpose each data set is required. Cloud services then separate out data where needed: some locally, some in the cloud, spread to a customer’s need and where the demand states. This improves access, in many aspects improves security and costs are factored in as flexible data storage deals can be struck.
Upgrades and the benefits of the cloud
SaaS customers benefit from a single source code, which means updates to the services, patches and new product rollouts are easy to manage and maintain. Updates can be sent in packages to every customer on the internet, meaning time and money is saved on administering to every customer independently.
The bottom line
The cloud is only going to become more essential as our digital footprint expands. SaaS developers are already reaping the rewards of using the cloud for both security, growth and flexible hosting. And as the tech industry moves the 4th industrial revolution on, the cloud will become more important as edge computing increases, the internet of things expands and AI functionality and usability unfurls.