What is Software as a Service (SaaS)?
Software as a Service (SaaS, typically pronounced 'Sass') is a model of software deployment where an application is hosted by a third party as a service delivered over the Internet. By eliminating the need to install and run the application on the customer's own computer, SaaS alleviates the customer's burden of software maintenance, ongoing operation, and support. Using SaaS can also reduce the up-front expense of software purchases, through less costly, on-demand pricing. From the software vendor's standpoint, SaaS has the attraction of providing stronger protection of its intellectual property and establishing an ongoing revenue stream.
The barriers to SaaS adoption
The commercialization of the SaaS concept can be traced back a decade to when pioneering companies like Salesforce.com and NetSuite first began trumpeting ‘the End of Software’. But today, ten years later, the SaaS market is still a small niche and most people make little use of business applications that are delivered on-demand i.e. the on-premise model is still the most prevalent.
So why, when you consider the potential benefits to vendors and end-users, have ISVs not adopted the SaaS model more aggressively? We see the barriers that have prevented ISVs from fully embracing the SaaS business model as:
- The risk to their traditional revenue stream of diverting precious technical and marketing resources to developing a new product offering
- Justifying a big investment in SaaS when the model is still relatively unproven outside of a few solution areas like CRM and web conferencing
- The perceived degradation to the end-user experience when moving from a rich client/server environment to a thin, web-based delivery model
- Lack of skills in their organization and the general market for architecting a configurable and scalable multi-tenanted server-side environment
- Managing the cash flow implications of receiving payment by subscription rather than the up-front nature of the perpetual license model
- Proving that the perceived lack of control over security, customization and integration inherent in a hosted solution is not truly detrimental
LANSA reduces the risks of implementing SaaS
ISVs that chose LANSA have overcome these technical and financial barriers and are now enjoying accelerated growth and more predictable income streams. The secret to their success is that LANSA has an application architecture that makes delivering Software as a Service an easy and intuitive step forward. LANSA has made it a ‘no-brainer’ for ISVs to add SaaS to their product mix by reducing the costs involved to a negligible amount and by meeting the unique technical challenges with standard out-of-the-box functionality.
On the server-side, LANSA automatically handles multi-user access and multi-tenancy. The LANSA platform manages a single instance of an application shared by all concurrent users, creating different library lists for each user to establish separate, secure logical databases per user over any physical database. This environment is trustworthy and already used by ISVs and their blue chip clients for storing and accessing sensitive data like employee HR records.
On the client-side, LANSA’s visual framework enables a rich, Windows-like user interface to be run inside of a standard browser. Ostensibly the same application can be deployed via Windows or the Web using a single skill set and from a common code base. The user’s workspace is personalized (skinned) for each client organization and the users themselves can further customize their experience. It is not uncommon for the Framework to morph into a full-blown Portal from which users can access all of their key applications and resources. Any web content, SOA component, 5250 screen, ActiveX control or Web Service can be snapped into the Framework. LANSA supports single sign-on solutions like Kerberos to simplify the deployment of such composite applications.
A real-world example of SaaS
For a real-world example of how a traditional ISV, some with a 30-year heritage, successfully embraced the SaaS model with LANSA please read about the case study showcase Getting SaaS ready is easy for some.