What Is Software as a Service? A Beginner’s Guide to SaaS

My Post - 2019-08-13T141252.557.pngThanks to the rise of cloud computing, it’s become easier for companies to create and deliver solutions over the Internet.

The sheer power that a cloud solution can bring, not to mention the ease of delivery, gives business an avenue for powerful solutions that clients and users can access from anywhere. There are many types of service models for a cloud-based technology delivered via the Internet, giving rise to the trend of “as a service” solutions. One of the most popular of these service models is software as a service, or SaaS. What exactly is SaaS, though?

Software as a service, or SaaS, is one of the most common types of cloud-based solutions on the market. It was one of the first applications of the cloud to be publicly introduced, and odds are just about every enterprise has adopted a SaaS solution into their infrastructure. Those unfamiliar with the term might be wondering; what is SaaS, and what are its benefits for both software distributors and end users?

What is software as a service?

Software as a service refers to a software distribution model where software is made generally available to users via the cloud. Software distributors host applications locally on their own hardware; then, via a connection to the Internet, users on other systems can access these applications via a web portal. This means that the software relies on the distributor’s hardware rather than the user’s hardware to run the solution.

Typically, SaaS programs are offered via a subscription, but they may also be offered for a flat rate up front.

What are the benefits of SaaS for software vendors?

Software as a service deployments offer a number of advantages for developers looking to distribute their software. The benefits of SaaS for software developers include, but are not limited to:

Eliminating the need for physical distribution

Traditionally, software developers needed to physically deliver their projects to users; typically, this is done through a storage method that stores the program that users then install on their computer. The SaaS delivery method means that developers don’t need to worry about physical distribution and only need to allow users to access resources on their on-premise hardware.

Easier to push updates

Because users are accessing your software via your own infrastructure, pushing out updates is as simple as updating the program locally. On the user’s end, all they have to do to receive an update is download the newest version of the software. Rather than applying updates on a machine-by-machine basis, vendors can host the updated software centrally and deliver the update to users when their local device requests it – a much quicker distribution for vendors.

What are the benefits of SaaS for software users?

The advantages of software as a service don’t just apply to software vendors; the end user can also benefit SaaS deployments as well. These benefits include:

Ease of accessibility

Because software as a service requires connectivity to the Internet to access rather than installing an update directly to a machine, users can access a SaaS deployment from anywhere. As long as a device is compatible with the software, all it needs to do is be connected to a network and it can access the software. That means that a user can operate a vendor’s software remotely, extending the business capabilities of a vendor’s program. – Read more

A comprehensive guide to selecting SaaS project monitoring tools

My Post - 2019-08-13T124147.968.pngProject monitoring is one of the most important aspects of the SaaS development process.

Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most neglected aspects. Given how complex and problem-prone this process can be, proceeding without careful scrutiny can create a lot of liabilities.

When monitoring is a priority in a SaaS project, system operation engineers are able to identify and address problems before end users even notice. Engineers can conduct workload and performance testing, estimate infrastructure performance, and gauge system accessibility by using monitoring software. All of this allows them to accommodate larger workloads from new users so system performance isn’t compromised. Additionally, project monitoring tools are necessary for calculating infrastructure costs when using a public cloud.

Evaluating public cloud monitoring tools

Two of the most widely used monitoring tools are Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. Both have strengths and weaknesses, meaning it’s up to each user to choose the software that best fits his or her needs.

When working with an AWS infrastructure, the only tool necessary is Amazon CloudWatch, which works like an archive for metrics created by AWS. It persistently keeps track of the resources and applications running on AWS, and it gathers data points related to things like disc operations and usage of the central processing unit. If specific metrics reach preassigned limits, users receive a notification and have the option to automatically initiate Auto Scaling. Users can also create their own metric sets and track them accordingly as well as access CloudWatch through several convenient interfaces.

There’s a lot to like about this monitoring tool, but it has notable limitations. For instance, it can’t aggregate data from some locations or send alarms for more than five different metrics. Users also can’t manually remove metrics, and in some cases, obtaining them can be a lengthy process.

Despite this, however, CloudWatch is a popular monitoring tool because it excels at collecting data. The tool is designed to track and document what matters most to administrators, and those records can be kept for years to identify long-term patterns. CloudWatch handles monitoring, but more importantly, it provides insights.

Microsoft Azure is similar. It provides infrastructure metrics as well as Azure service logs. Data can be collected from application logs, activity logs, and performance counters. Users can then engage with the data in various ways. It can be sent to a third party for analysis or stored for 90 days in an archive (or routed to long-term storage). It can also be routed to an application like Application Insights or Power BI for in-depth analysis.

Much like CloudWatch, Azure Monitoring can also be set up to send alerts when metrics reach certain thresholds. Additionally, there are multiple ways to access Azure Monitoring tools. Users may not find the solution perfect, but it provides the functionality necessary to make project monitoring productive.

Evaluating private cloud monitoring tools

Applications that rely on a private cloud for infrastructure are harder to monitor, but it’s not impossible. There are several specialised solutions on the market, such as Nagios Core and Zabbix.

Nagios Core is a free, open-source product. It offers a number of tools that empower users to observe services alongside Windows and Linux hosts. Users have a fair amount of control over what metrics they want to follow, and the system can also be customised using common languages like C++ and PHP. Like all monitoring tools, this one also sends alerts.

The only real drawback of Nagios Core is that it doesn’t offer a graphic user interface to adjust system settings to customers’ needs. Instead, they have to be manually edited in the configuration files. Most users are able to look past this flaw, given that Nagios Core offers a wide range of free commercial plug-ins and, overall, is a highly customisable solution.

Zabbix is also a worthwhile monitoring software. It consists of a monitoring server that collects data, runs analyses, and sends alerts. It also includes a database, a web interface, and daemon agents that can run in either passive or active modes.

Unlike Nagios Core, Zabbix excels in terms of available customisations and the ease of implementing them. Thanks to intuitive templates, the initial configuration time is minimal, and additional templates can be applied later to further adapt the system. – Read more

7 Skills Every SaaS Provider Needs to Develop a Great Website

My Post - 2019-08-13T122027.244.pngThere are so many platforms out there that claim you can use them to build a high-quality website with no prior knowledge of how to do so.

Sure, you can use Squarespace or GoDaddy to claim a small amount of space on the world wide web. But will you be able to convert leads through that website? Probably not.

A professional web development team for SaaS providers is essential if you want a great website that can help you get results. If you’re just looking for a small website to put your name on the internet, then you can use a DIY solution. What’s the difference between professional web development for SaaS and the do-it-yourself method? If you don’t have these seven skills below, your website is guaranteed to be much lower quality than one that is professionally developed.

Ability to Work In HTML and CSS

How’s your coding skillset? Can you work comfortably in HTML and CSS or are you just learning? HTML is an important skill to learn as it’s used to create the documents and content on your website. It’s one of the more basic coding languages to learn and is crucial when writing headings and paragraphs or inserting links.

In order to be truly optimized for search engine rankings, it’s a good idea to include a blog on your website. This allows you to continuously produce content and increase your SEO rankings on search engine result pages. But in order to have a blog on your site, you need to know HTML inside and out.

CSS controls the layout, color, and fonts of your website. A truly professional web developer for SaaS will use well-coordinated colors and fonts with a layout that creates a great user experience. Unless you want to be stuck with the most basic of layouts and take your chances on the font, CSS is needed to help you create a well-designed website.

Deep Understanding of Website Design

Some people are inherently great at matching colors and fonts while others are a little less capable in this area. If you’re someone who has a natural talent for colors and fonts, congratulations. If you struggle with it a little more, join the club!

Website design isn’t just picking out a great color scheme or the right set of fonts. It’s designing for a beautiful and easy-to-use user experience that makes your website a pleasant site to visit. If buttons are hard to see or the font is difficult to read, you’ll receive fewer leads from your website and visitors are less likely to stay on it for long. Professionals in the web development field for SaaS know exactly what fonts will create a great user experience while also matching your company’s culture, image, and reputation. – Read more

Top 6 Financial Tips Every SaaS Founder Should Know

My Post - 2019-08-13T121152.691.pngStarting your own software as a service (SaaS) business is an appealing way to become an entrepreneur.

Just come up with your software solution, deploy it, and become indispensable to fellow business owners everywhere—right?

Of course, it’s never that simple. Coming up with and creating your software is the easy part. The hard part is turning your idea into an actual business that enough customers are willing to pay for.

With that in mind, once they finalize their business concept, SaaS founders need to immediately turn their attention to their business’s finances. Building a solvent business model depends on you figuring out the numbers early.

Not sure where to start? Here are six financial tips every SaaS should keep in mind when building out their business.

Validate your idea before committing real funds

Lots of articles on the web will convince you that all you need to start your SaaS or other ecommerce business is an MVP—minimum viable product—that you can start selling. You can always tweak your MVP later as you garner feedback and experience.

Even spending that much of your resources and time, however, can be wasteful. If you build an MVP without a real understanding of whether people will pay for it, you’re essentially throwing money away unless you’re lucky enough to strike gold on your first pass.

You don’t need to build your software until you can demonstrate interest from potential customers. To measure that interest, use landing pages to gauge whether people want to learn more about your idea. – Read more

6 Things to Consider Before Signing That SaaS SLA

My Post - 2019-08-13T114816.546.pngAs companies continue to move away from developing software in-house, they’ve been relying on Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) vendors to provide the services they need.

In fact, the average company spent 78% more on SaaS products in 2018 compared to 2017.

But before jumping right in and signing up with a SaaS vendor, it’s crucial that you have a firm agreement in place so that you get what you’re expecting from the product and service(s) they provide. The last thing you want is to be locked in with a vendor that’s not meeting your business requirements.

That’s why we’ve turned to industry experts to learn more about what a service-level agreement (SLA) is, why you need one, and what you should look for before signing one.

What Is a SaaS SLA?

An SLA outlines what the vendor intends to provide, and the client expects to receive regarding a particular service. It’s not a contract that’s exclusive to the SaaS industry, but “all commercial SaaS vendors offer SLAs,” according to Louis Gottfried, director of technology at WineGlass Marketing.

The agreement could “include details of availability and services as well as technical details,” explained John Mason, director of customer experience at Nextiva. A typical SLA will outline metrics to measure the performance of a service, and the penalties if a vendor doesn’t meet these requirements. – Read more

SaaS Providers: Stop Changing the Terms of the Deal

My Post - 2019-08-12T185109.456.pngI logged onto my accounting software this morning and, instead of doing the task I wanted to do, I was immediately confronted with a pop-up window that informed me the terms of service and pricing scheme were changing.

Again. What choice do I have but to accept the new terms? I could stop using the platform, download all of my data, and move to another platform. But the new platform provider will likely be no better.

If you use a lot of online platforms, terms of service, end user license agreements (EULAs), and software as a service agreements (SaaS) seem to be in a constant state of modification. There is seldom a month that goes by when I am not accepting some new change to keep using the same web program.

Ever-changing online terms are not what judges and legal scholars had in mind when they developed the law around contract modifications over the past two centuries. One of the doctrines taught in law school, called the Pre-Existing Duty Rule, established a principle that a new promise to perform an already existing obligation cannot be consideration for an agreement. In other words, you cannot charge more for the same thing if someone has already agreed to buy it. An example: A person promises to do to a job for $100, the employer accepts, but when he shows up to do the work he demands $200 to do the same task. The employer received no new consideration. Under the Pre-Existing Duty Rule, the employer is only legally obligated to pay $100 when the job is complete. (Murray on Contracts, Section 64).  (Note that the Uniform Commercial Code’s Article 2 for the sale of goods does not use the Pre-Existing Duty Rule). – Read more

Which IT Cloud Computing Service Model is The Best for my Business?

My Post - 2019-08-02T161002.531.pngIn the world of business, technology is really changing how things tend to function, and with the appearance of IT Cloud Services, it wasn’t really a different case.

Ever since IT Cloud Services first appeared, which was not more than a decade ago, business owners and other influential people in the corporate world immediately embraced the technology, and up to this day, they are implementing it in their workflow in order to grow and expand much easier.

A lot of business owners nowadays are considering to move their entire infrastructure on a more reliable cloud platform instead of keeping everything on-center. And to be honest, it’s a really smart decision. Why? We’ll be explaining in this article.

If you happen to be someone from the corporate world who has the opportunity to implement IT Cloud Services in your business, we definitely advise you to do so. The benefits are huge, but if you don’t believe us yet, feel free to continue reading until the end in order to learn some more on this topic. Without further ado, let’s take a look. – Read more

Ability to rapidly launch new products and services ranks high as a cloud benefit

My Post - 2019-08-02T151025.928.pngSecurity, backup and , geographic location of cloud  centres and compliance requirements emerged as important elements of a cloud strategy.

This is according to a recent Cloud Adoption Survey conducted by ITWeb in partnership with data solutions leader, Pure Storage.

Cloud is mission critical for organisations

Moving mission-critical apps to the cloud can be a complex process, as organisations need to address challenges around , data management, and performance.

An overwhelming majority of survey respondents (80%) said they consider the applications they are using in the cloud to be mission-critical for their business, while 12% did not consider them so.

The top three types of business applications being used (or planned to use in future) in the cloud are software development (59%), office productivity tools (58%), and internal enterprise applications (58%).

When it comes to backup and recovery solutions, cloud managed back-ups enables the secure, automated backup and recovery of critical information stored on servers or corporate devices. A vast majority (70%) have considered cloud as a long-term home for their backup data; while only 13% are unsure.

Security

While many cloud service providers implement good security standards and industry certifications, the survey reveals that local executives still hold a perception that cloud data is inherently less secure than data that is housed on-premises.

Other areas of concern were cloud provider lock-in (43%), performance concerns (37%) and integration with existing systems (36%).

According to IDC, cloud adoption is accelerating faster than previously anticipated in SA, with 65% of local CIOs planning to invest in public and private cloud. The fastest-growing market segment is forecast to be cloud system infrastructure services, or infrastructure as a service (IaaS).

While cloud computing offers many benefits for organisations, including a reduction in hardware costs, according to the Pure Storage study, almost a third (29%) of the survey respondents cited cost and lack of return on investment as additional barriers to cloud adoption. – Read more

Gartner forecasts a cloudy future for the database market

My Post - 2019-08-02T142842.216.pngThe future of the database market is looking increasingly cloudy.

Analyst firm Gartner Inc. is predicting that three quarters of all database deployments will be made to the cloud within just three years, and that few will ever return to on-premises environments. The analyst firm, in a report published today, said the on-premises database market continues to fade as cloud-based options grow in popularity.

That’s thanks in part to the usefulness of databases that are used for analytics purposes as well as the rise of the cloud software-as-a-service business model. Gartner reckons that it’s seeing clients deploy new applications and migrate existing assets to the cloud at an exponentially growing rate.

Those deployments include things such as data warehouses and data lakes and also analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning workloads. And just 5% of these deployments are ever likely to be moved back in-house at a later date, it said.

The shift is part of the overall trend that’s seen companies increasingly move workloads away from their in-house information technology infrastructure to public cloud platforms rented from companies such as Amazon Web Services Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Google LLC. Cloud services can sometimes be more expensive, but they provide considerable advantages such as eliminating the need to manage the infrastructure, and being able to scale workloads up and down more easily. In many cases the cloud is also seen as more secure, Gartner said. – Read more

A Quick Checklist for Building SaaS Businesses

My Post - 2019-07-25T160750.933.pngConsumers worldwide are enjoying the instant accessibility of cloud computing as well as the easy upgrades, improved mobility and low costs.

Yet, as this growing business model booms, so does the competition. Trendsetters like Google, Oracle and Amazon are setting standards for experience and design, while disruptive innovators are growing quickly.

And all have never had it so easy when it comes to scaling and shaking up the market.

If you’re one of the many budding entrepreneurs looking to dive into the competitive SaaS market, I have put together a checklist to keep your business on track and make sure you avoid some of the common pitfalls:

1. Have you educated yourself and created a lean plan?

The real benefit of the tech market is its flexibility. You often won’t need a large team or even permanent office space to get started. So strip your business down to its essentials, and try to wear as few hats as possible. If you create a lean plan and spend time focusing on what truly matters to your business, you will improve your chances of success.  There are plenty of books available which discuss how to create lean startup plans. I recommend The Lean Startup by Eric Ries as a good jumping-off point.

2. Are you focused on your MVP?

Most SaaS businesses stem from a core idea, which can then snowball into a more complex product. Identifying this core function and developing it to the fullest is a better strategy than trying to build  a more complex product which solves a host of problems. The initial customers you acquire can give you a great motivational push to keep your business growing. Once you have some feedback from your early users, you will be in a better position to develop your business in new directions and to prioritize any upcoming features.