We have developed several Software as a Service (SaaS) and Business Process as a Service (BPaaS) applications for clients in the past and are currently working on our own BPaaS project, so it feels like a good time to go into more detail about this burgeoning area of web development.
What are SaaS and BPaaS?
SaaS and BPaaS are cloud based software that users can access through their browser, such as Google Docs and SalesForce. The provider supplies an easy-to-use interface and hosting, so the user does not need to worry about the process of installing software.
The service can be as simple as file storage, as with Flickr or Dropbox, or providers can offer software for entire e-commerce sites (e.g. Shopify) and accounting (e.g. Xero). These applications tend to be made available for a monthly fee, so that the provider generates income through subscriptions.
Pros and Cons of SaaS & BPaaS
As an SaaS or BPaaS end user, the advantages are obvious: you gain access to a high level of functionality; you enjoy the support services of the provider; you can access it from any operating system (it can be reached by any browser); and you don’t have to deal with upgrading the software (this will happen automatically).
You are also spared the capital expense of buying software. This is particularly appealing for small businesses, where a monthly fee is often preferable to a large up-front payment.
SaaS and BPaaS are, in general, a good bet for start-ups and SMEs. They offer the chance to use software that is more advanced than these businesses would usually be able to afford. Indeed, with the global recession fresh in everyone’s minds and IT capital budgets still very tight, large organizations are also beginning to experiment with cloud based solutions and take advantage of the subscription-based model.
On the downside, using SaaS or BPaaS does mean that you are dependent on the provider, which in turn means that you are vulnerable if they suffer from a system failure, security breach, or even physical damage.
This comes down to the trust which has to exist between the user and provider. However, you can reduce the risk of losing data by taking basic precautions against unauthorised access by setting up strong passwords and making regular manual back-ups, if available.
Are SaaS or BPaaS for you?
Gartner predicts that SaaS and BPaaS market will continue to grow, it was worth $47bn in 2012 and is projected to reach $81bn by 2016. This shows that businesses are becoming more trusting and open to the opportunities that cloud technologies have to offer.
Whether you will be one of the adopters of SaaS or BPaaS depends on the size and nature of your business. If you are a small startup, you will probably prefer the monthly fee to a large up-front payment. If you need to access your work from many different places, the flexibility of using SaaS and BPaaS could suit you very well.
On the other hand, if your company is large and has a substantial IT budget and in-house resources, you may prefer the autonomy of actually owning everything. Nevertheless, many enterprises are moving away from the ownership model.
If you feel that using SaaS or BPaaS could benefit your business, there is no reason why you shouldn’t try them out. The risks can be kept to a minimum with the right precautions and you don’t have to commit to running your entire business with SaaS or BPaaS to reap their benefits – these tools can be adopted to great effect in a few areas at the outset. We advise you investigate all the possibilities before committing to buying expensive enterprise software, especially for the non-critical areas of your business.