"Cloud computing" is the new industry buzz word, and everyone is talking about it. But what is it? It has changed the way businesses develop and deliver software. Companies are investing billions of dollars to leverage the potential of cloud computing. Gartner named cloud computing as the second most important technology focus area for IT users in 2010.
What Is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing utilizes the Internet to allow users to access dynamically scalable and often visualized resources and technology-enabled services. These advisory services can be business processes like CRM, ERP, market lead generation, supply chain management, etc., or technical services that include software development and infrastructure services.
With traditional forms of business applications, by contrast, you needed a variety of hardware, software and a whole team of experts to install, configure, test, run, secure and update them.
The SaaS Scenario in the Cloud
Cloud computing can be launched either as a platform service or as a framework for developing powerful rich internet applications. The development of cloud computing is not possible without software as a service, or SaaS, the most mature and widely used "flavor" of cloud computing. SaaS launches software in the cloud to be used as a service later. Today more and more businesses are adopting SaaS as an effective and affordable alternative to the traditional model of packaged software due to its high flexibility, proven support services, enhanced scalability and configurability, reduced customer maintenance and reduced cost due to its multi-tenant architecture.
SaaS delivers applications over the internet as a service, wherein instead of installing and maintaining software on your system you access it over the Internet. The service provider manages the application, its availability and security. Not one but thousands of users can have access to the application at the same time using multi-tenant architecture thus proven saas applications.
Features of Software as a Service
If you need to manage and store information centrally, have users spread across different locations, need real time updates and need to manage costs, web hosted applications are for you. The advantages of using SaaS as a cloud computing model are:
1. Online Access –SaaS is a network based application wherein the users don't need to install any software on their local systems. Access is gained via a web browser, so all you need is an internet connection. This network hosting provides access not only to the application but also to additional services provided by the vendor.
2.Centralized Management –Applications launched in the cloud behave as if they were locally installed. As SaaS is an online application, control, monitoring and updating can be done from a single location. The businesses that maintain the application will never need to manually make changes to the local device but would instead provide improvement to the online application.
3.Cost – Software systems hosted on the web by developers to be used by the customer or employees globally are provided via a web subscription system. Businesses often use a monthly or quarterly pay-as-you-go schedule for use their Saas application development. This allows them to save money and even out their cash flow.
4.Communication – With SaaS, you can also use powerful online communication features like instant messaging and VOIP voice calls.
5.Ease of Access – As the applications are available on the web, they can be accessed by anyone from anywhere across the globe.
6.No Changes in the Network – Any updating of the application online does not affect the local network.
The popularity of cloud computing is on the rise, and there are a host of companies offering this service. If you are looking for a service provider, dig deeper to find out what you are being offered as a service and how well the solution being offered meets the needs of your organization and users, both from a feature-functionality as well as a total cost of ownership point of view