by Scott McAuley
If you’re anything like most small businesses out there today you know that it takes a lot of hats to make your business run. How many hats can you reasonably wear at one time?
Have you taken a look at the latest technology and wondered how it can help but have no idea how you’re going to afford it much less how to implement it?
Wouldn’t it be nice to keep the cost of operating your business down while taking advantage of professional technology services that can relieve some of the day to day chores that are needed to keep your business running?
The good news is that there are plenty of services you can subscribe to that will allow you to gain the competitive edge and help you generate a profit. This can all be accomplished while professional IT staff manage the systems for you at a fraction of the normal cost.
Software as a service is not a new idea. SaaS is a method to deliver business software products and is thought of as a low-cost way for businesses to obtain the same benefits of commercially licensed, internally operated software without the associated complexity and high initial cost.
What this means is that you can now “rent” a piece of software that will enable you to manage your customer database. Perhaps you may want to “rent” a piece of software that enables you to have your business phone service follow you wherever you travel. You may want to have your documents or email at the ready regardless of your location or device. Software as a service will empower you to work from different locations while giving you access to your important data at all times. All this can be accomplished at a much more budget friendly rate with SaaS.
SaaS is delivered via the internet, and all of your data, including the program running the software, is housed with a vendor at their datacenter. This vendor will give you rights to use the software normally for a monthly subscription. There are even vendors who offer limited services for free.
Another huge benefit to SaaS is security and reliability. I have many customers who are still running on a copy of Microsoft Office 2000 Professional. While this is a great product, mainstream support ended in 2004 and extended support ends in 2009. Great life cycle, but what do you do after support ends? The cost to upgrade is $299 per license, and you will have to make sure your hardware supports the new product. SaaS allows you to work with the same files you are used to and when updates are applied they happen seamlessly in the background. Your software is always up to date and all you need is a simple web browser to access it, no hardware upgrades are required.
Perhaps this has happened to you or someone you know. You are ready for that big presentation and you have worked all night to get it right. When you boot up your computer in the morning, it will not turn on, and you don’t have a backup. Gulp! Unfortunately, this is all too common. But wait. You subscribed to a vendor who offers a presentation program and a word processing program. Simply log into your account via the internet (on a computer that works), and retrieve your presentation and documents or database or email or … well you get the message. Your data is more secure because the vendor has in place redundant backup systems and your data resides on it.
Several companies in the past have adopted the early model of this and called themselves Application Service Providers. The major pitfall with an ASP is its feasibility to keep their costs down due to the distribution of the products. Normally, with an ASP there is one piece of software available to one customer. There was no way to amortize the cost of the hardware, software and the staff necessary to keep things running smooth enough to allow small business to afford these services.
Software as a service uses multi-tenanted architecture to allow the distribution of a single piece of software to many users. This strategy allows software and hardware vendors the capability of spreading the cost out over multiple users which brings down the cost and makes it a viable solution for small business.
Now, don’t get me wrong, SaaS is not for everyone. Larger companies are slower to take on the concept due to proprietary and secure information. You may be running a piece of software that has been developed specifically for your vertical industry and SaaS is simply not available, yet. However, for the small business using programs for word processing, spreadsheets and presentations and other general pieces of software, SaaS is a nice and welcome low cost solution.
Chances are you already use SaaS and don’t realize it. If you have an online email account you are using SaaS. If you subscribe to any of the social networking sites you are defiantly using SaaS. It is an upcoming computing component and the potential looks great. It’s exciting to think that in the future we may no longer need a computer with an operating system, it will all be SaaS. That’s for another article. Stay tuned and in the meanwhile, “Do what you do best!”
A small list of SaaS vendors:
MC Squared Technology Group LLC is committed to providing outstanding service to their customers. That commitment can be seen in the efforts of their people. By being responsive to your needs, they strive daily to improve the level of service they deliver and exceed ever rising customer expectations. For more information about MC Squared Technology Group, please visit http://www.mcsquaredllc.com.