Sassy ‘lil SaaS

By: Alicia Hernandez, Think Technical Writer

There is just something so intriguing about the hosted service offerings that end in “…aaS”! Get your mind out of the gutter! I was talking about the convenience and peace of mind to have someone else responsible for the services that you offer or are in need of. Continuing our crusade with hosted services, this month we will chat about SaaS, or Software as a Service.

If, and that is a big IF, you have a Software Developer working for your business, I am willing to bet he or she does not have the time to develop that great-idea-of-a-program you just thought of in the shower this morning that would make your job so much easier. I’m also willing to bet that someone else has already developed it and perfected it. And maybe, if you’re really lucky, they offer SaaS – a fully hosted solution to make your job even easier. Suddenly you are thinking that you need a piece of that SaaS and are ready to sign on the dotted line.

Not so fast there buddy. Take a second to consider these three things before jumping on the SaaS bandwagon:

  • Is it cheaper?
  • Is it easier?
  • Is it secure?

Cost

Obviously, the cost of a hosted service is going to be more expensive than if you were going to just buy the software. Do not let the price tag scare you away without thoroughly evaluating the total cost of the alternative – including the use of your datacenter/office space, your hardware, and your personnel. Internal costs that are often overlooked when shying away from the price of a SaaS solution include:

  • Real Estate or Datacenter space – a difficult one to put an exact number on, but consider:
    • Actual cost of space (some companies rent out datacenter space or need to consider space in the office for another server)
    • Cost of cooling (more servers = higher costs)
    • Cost of power
  • Procurement of hardware
    • Server infrastructure
      • Disk space/storage
      • Memory
      • Server/OS licensing
      • Maintenance costs
      • Ongoing support costs (Personnel/Systems Administrators/etc.)
    • Network infrastructure
      • Bandwidth capacity
      • Capacity on existing hardware?
        • Price per port
      • Need to add hardware?
        • Purchasing costs
      • Ongoing support costs (Personnel/Network Administrators/etc.)
    • Implementation – one-time cost of actually setting up the hardware and implementing the software
      • Cost per hour of the following:
        • Project Manager (not always necessary)
        • Systems Administrators
        • Network Administrators
        • Application Developers (if available)
        • Desktop Technicians
        • End-user training

All of these bullet points could add up to a significant amount of time and money that are typically on-going costs for as long as you must run the software on premise. When doing a cost comparison between a hosted solution and an on premise solution, you should definitely try to compare apples to apples and consider these points listed above when possible!

Ease of Implementation

In addition to cost, it may also behoove you to consider the ease of implementation. Some on premise software implementations can be a nightmare. And never believe the vendor’s word on the ease of implementing their solution – every vendor will try to tell you how easily their product integrates with the products already running smoothly in your environment. The truth is, this is more of a myth than a reality. Sometimes, it is just easier to save your IT department the headache of introducing a new dog to the pack and allow the vendor to take on the risk and nuisance of the implementation.

Security

Always, always, always be vigilant with your company’s data. If you are not asking questions about security best practices, regulations, or the proprietary of your data, you are opening yourself up to breaches. At a minimum, you should ensure the SaaS vendor is PCI certified, provides data encryption options, and secure modes of transmit if you are planning to send your PII data into their systems! Always, always, always be vigilant with your company’s data. Yes, it is worth repeating!

SaaS is definitely a great opportunity for you to get that new application for your business up and running without the pain of procuring hardware, installing, and implementing it all on your own. And while the cost may seem to be more, be sure you are comparing the total cost of ownership, as well as considering the ease of implementation, and the possible security positives that you may gain by having it fully hosted.

 

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