Does your business utilize online tools to increase productivity or access functionality not easily available from desktop software? Chances are the answer is yes and that you have heard of SaaS, but are you aware of risks and dangers associated with it and how to avoid them?
SaaS is the acronym for “software as a service” and it has exploded in popularity as Internet speeds increase and data sharing booms. Businesses have become reliant on web applications and services for various aspects of their business from operations to marketing, to R&D and even finance. There are pros and cons to this type of relationship and its best to have an understanding of that balance in order to make an informed decision.
Here Today Gone Tomorrow
SaaS companies usually bill on a monthly basis and strive to keep clients dependent on their service. This can be a cost effective option to reduce capital outlays, but keep in mind that the SaaS provider is constantly changing their software or can shut down without warning.
In the case of Repost.us, this company was launched and closed so fast users were left scrambling. Repost developed a business model that strived to increase exposure for publishers that are faced with the challenge to increase exposure for their content. This launch sounded great and filled a gap in the industry, so businesses shifted their strategy to include Repost.us and allocated a lot of time, money and resources only discover that the doors were going to shut down within a year of the launch. This demonstrates an inherent risk, but it is generally less expensive for a business to take this risk than to develop their own syndication software from scratch. The key is to be aware of this risk and make sure your business can quickly absorb any change.
Wait for It
Even when dealing with stable SaaS companies the relationship is not without issues. Successful SaaS startups are often challenged by providing consistent performance as the service grows in popularity. It has been proven much harder to develop truly scalable, multi-tenant distributed software for third party’s use than even a large enterprise-scale system for internal use, where many issues such as security, feature adoption and business process integration typically are well defined by existing solutions and established best practices.
Because SaaS products generally tend to serve only a single purpose, a business that utilizes many of these services is not only paying multiple subscription fees on a recurring basis, but also ends up with its mission critical data segmented across the web on various platforms. REST API integration services such as Zapier and IFTTT can be used to mitigate that problem to some degree, but again a business would be adding another service provider to the mix and another layer of complexity to its technology operations. It is evident that flexibility of keeping data in the cloud has proven to be valuable. That being said, it is worth taking time to review where your business’ potential liabilities and exposures exist so you make the right decisions.
Custom Tailored Solutions in the Cloud
The flip side is cloud services that actually bring amazing advances to a business and reduce costs, allowing for things never before possible. Let’s take a look at Amazon Web Services, a reputable and stable platform that offers scalable computing infrastructure. While technically an Infrastructure as a Service (Iaas), AWS has a gamut of add-on services, which put it way ahead of traditional web hosting and co-location facilities.
One such service is the Amazon Web Services Marketplace. AWS Marketplace is an online store that helps customers find, buy, and immediately start using the software and services that run in Amazon EC2 cloud. Many businesses leverage AWS Marketplace to receive the benefits of SaaS without relinquishing control over the software upgrade cycle, security setup, and integration capabilities. Enterprise quality software from established providers such as Oracle and Microsoft can be used together with bleeding edge solutions from smaller independent software vendors and Amazon’s own web services.
Customers of SlashDB have taken advantage of its availability in AWS Marketplace knowing that the underpinning computing infrastructure will allow for massive scalability and robustness. At the same time those customers retain full control over software upgrades and have an option to migrate and/or integrate with internal data center, if required. SlashDB instantly adds a REST API to traditional SQL databases for reading and writing in JSON, XML, CSV and HTML formats. It has found applications in enterprise data integration, syncing internal databases with their cloud replicas and as a data gateway for web and mobile enterprise applications.
Survival of the Fittest
Taking into account all the factors will help create a business environment that uses the latest technologies while balancing their own data security needs. As time passes and more businesses continue to embrace software as a service the strongest providers will prevail, making the overall system increasingly more secure and reliable. At the same time the need for API integration will only increase. This dance between business and technology is the driving force behind all the latest innovations, so stay informed and good luck with your next SaaS choice.