Jul 21, 2010
Since I defined Web 2.0 already, I thought I’d also define SaaS for the masses. Again, this is actually a fairly easy and straightforward technology to put some boundaries around. First of all, I don’t actually like the moniker “Software as a Service” because it confuses most HR people. At the core, SaaS does not add any additional “service” that it’s genetic predecessors did (simple hosting of applications in 3rd party data centers). Regardless of my personal complaints about the name, some SaaS vendors do indeed provide additional services, but I don’t think these services are parts of SaaS, just differentiators between vendors.
So what is SaaS?
- Hosted: First of all, the obvious. A SaaS application is hosted by someone else – almost always a vendor. Actually, I can’t think of a single SaaS application that is not hosted by the vendor who sells it. The whole idea is to generate incremental revenues on a long term basis that are higher than premise based application’s license fees.
- Singe codebase: I know that some vendors call themselves SaaS when they have the ability to host your application separately because you want to do something different than the rest of the vendor’s customers. This is not SaaS. To qualify as SaaS, the vendor supports a single codebase across all its customers. There are exceptions, as the customer base expands and they have to increase the number of servers, vendors may take time to update all the servers. However, in general, the vendor is supporting a singe codebase, or getting all the servers and customers up to the same codebase.
And to me, that’s all she wrote. At the very basis of SaaS, there is not a whole lot to it. But you’ll see why I think the “software as a service” can be misleading. People in HR misread “service” as some sort of additional customer support. Indeed, a technologist would read it quite differently, and service really just means the provision of the application in a particular manner.