Cloud Computing And SaaS: You'Ve Come A Long Way Baby

A few decades ago, the "cloud" in computer-speak was as nebulous as a cloud in the sky, with few people understanding what it was and even fewer actual implementations. And most people couldn't imagine that a computer would be able to access data not stored on their computer or a local server. Today the significance and ubiquity of cloud computing can't be overstated. It's in use everywhere, from huge companies to individual users. One popular type of cloud computing is called Software as a Service (SaaS). Here's an overview of SaaS and some examples of this cloud computing model.

What is SaaS?

SaaS is a cloud-based mechanism for providing software to computer users. Rather than purchasing a software application and installing it on their computer, users will subscribe to the software and access it from any computing device. Typically, a SaaS vendor will host the software on a server in the cloud and provide access to businesses and individuals for a fee.

What are the advantages and disadvantages?

Both businesses and individuals can benefit from SaaS because they don't have to spend a large amount of money upfront to purchase the software. Instead, they subscribe to the application for a monthly or annual fee. These customers don't have to worry about installing or troubleshooting the software, and they don't have to worry about making sure it is secure. IT staff don't have to worry about maintaining servers and software or the infrastructure that supports the software.

Although security is listed as an advantage, the customer is also giving up control of security and therefore must trust the vendor to ensure the security software is up-to-date. The increased accessibility of SaaS means access must be tightly controlled through login credentials. The company's assets are in jeopardy if a malicious user gains access. The customer is also often locked-in to a particular vendor because it is time-consuming and expensive to switch to a new application.

What are some examples of SaaS?

One of the largest SaaS implementations is one you likely are familiar with. Dropbox is a popular cloud storage solution that you access via the cloud. You can store files and backups and access them from anywhere. Another example of SaaS is Microsoft Office 365. Customers can purchase an annual subscription, rather than downloading and installing the Office apps on their machines. Streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are other SaaS examples.

Cloud computing has undoubtedly come a long way. It may have been difficult to imagine its many uses a few decades ago. Now it's hard to imagine life without it. To learn more about this topic, contact cloud services near you.