Examining the Types of SaaS Platforms in Cloud Computing - dummies

Examining the Types of SaaS Platforms in Cloud Computing

By Judith Hurwitz, Robin Bloor, Marcia Kaufman, Fern Halper

Because Software as a Service (SaaS) has been around longer than most other types of cloud computing, hundreds, if not thousands, of companies are trying to become leaders. It costs a lot of money initially to build the type of data center and the applications that can scale to support thousands of companies (and potentially millions of individual users). It takes time to turn a one-month free trial into a long-term contract. Despite these obstacles, some very successful SaaS companies exist, ranging from emerging players to the big IT companies.

It can be overwhelming when you look at how many companies have created SaaS versions of their products — even companies whose primary focus is the on-premise model feel compelled to offer customers a SaaS version of their offerings.

To help you make sense of this complicated world, SaaS can be divided into three categories:

  • Packaged software: This is the biggest area of the SaaS market. Packaged software comes in many different flavors: customer relationship management, supply chain management, financial management, and human resources, to name the most common.

    These integrated offers focus on a specific process, such as managing employees’ benefits, salaries, and annual performance reviews. These products tend to have several characteristics in common: They’re designed with specific business processes built in that customers can modify. They have moved in great numbers to the cloud because customers were finding the platforms too hard to manage.

  • Collaborative software: This increasingly vibrant area of the market is driven by the ubiquitous availability of the Internet, combined with the fact that teams are located all over the world. This area is dominated by software that focuses on all sorts of collaborative efforts including Web conferencing, document collaboration, project planning, instant messaging, and even email. In a sense, it was inevitable that these platforms would move to the cloud: These tasks occur throughout the organization and need to be easily accessed from many locations.

  • Enabling and management tools: What’s in this category? Think about the development tools that developers need when creating and extending a SaaS platform; also think about the testing, monitoring, and measuring that a customer and the developer need. Also consider the compliance issues related to the use of this type of software in the real world. These issues are included in this third category.