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The Cloud - Benefits of SaaS (Software as a Service)

Posted on May 10, 2012 By Jake White

 

The Cloud is the future of computing. Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer, said that the company was betting its future on the cloud. John Hagel from Deloitte Consulting said, "All businesses would be well advised to begin to develop experience with Cloud Computing platforms at an early stage to better prepare themselves for the disruptions that lie ahead." According to a Gartner report, 20% of enterprises will have no IT departments by the end of 2012. Salesforce.com was the pioneer of the cloud, with their anti-software marketing. They are now a $1 billion company, with their sites on hitting $10 billion in revenue. Though cloud computing has become ubiquitous with services like browser-based email (e.g., Gmail) and document storage (e.g., DropBox and iCloud), it is still not very well understood. Here, we will provide some information about cloud computing, with an emphasis on the benefits of software as a service.

Cloud based LMS systems are more convenient and secure.

Definition:

Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction. This cloud model is composed of five essential characteristics, three service models, and four deployment models (source).

There are three major cloud computing models: 

(1) Software as a Service (Saas) 

(2) Platform as a Service (PaaS) 

(3) Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). We will focus on five main advantages of software as a service (Saas).

Benefit #1: Upgrades Included

In the multi-tenant SaaS (Software as a Service) model, all clients share one version of a centrally-hosted software service. There are many advantages to using SaaS rather than traditional installed/on-premises software. One of the main advantages is the software is perpetually updated, with instant upgrades for all users. This ensures that everyone is on the same version of the system, and customers typically don't have to pay for upgrades. This means you won't have extra costs to install the latest upgrade, and you will get all the latest enhancements right away.

Benefit #2: Scalable and Low Costs

In contrast to the high up-front costs of traditional on-premises software (or hosted/ASP solutions), Saas (Software as a Service) solutions usually have limited up-front costs, with a pay-for-what-you-use approach. This means businesses can reduce their capital expenditures by ditching their traditional software for Saas solutions. Saas also allows limitless scalability with inexpensive storage—many solutions even include unlimited storage at no extra cost (be sure to ask providers about this; we are aware of some LMS providers who charge as much as $900 per GB per year for extra storage).

Benefit #3: No Maintenance

Over-stretched IT departments love Saas (Software as a Service) solutions because it removes the need for maintenance. Some providers will even provide a user help desk for all users (not just the person who acts as administrator of the system at the client company). Imagine having upfront licensing costs reduced significantly, offloading the burden of troubleshooting, backups, updates, and other maintenance tasks. This is a huge benefit for IT departments and helps to explain why so many IT managers are looking to expand their value to the business by deploying Cloud solutions.

Benefit #4: Rapid Deployment

Saas (Software as a Service) solutions can be rapidly deployed, which is very appealing for businesses that need to put in place a solution quickly for immediate impact. Many solutions allow users to set themselves up for a trial account or even set up their production environment without vendor involvement.

Benefit #5: Highly Secure

Finally, security is a major advantage of Saas (Software as a Service) solutions—which are highly secure. Irfan Saif, from Deloitte & Touche, has pointed out that, "Cloud solutions can enable some companies to attain a level of security they may not be able to afford from a cost, resource, or process maturity perspective." When we heard Mr. Saif speak at a recent conference he made the statement that, "If you look at data breaches in recent years, you will find that every one of them is installed, on-premises [i.e., internally hosted and not a cloud solution]." We looked into this further and found a number of data breach web sites that support this conclusion (e.g., http://www.infosecurityanalysis.com/). We saw a number of big companies—including Apple, Google, and Microsoft—whose internal systems had been hacked. This is not to say that Cloud companies are perfect. The King of the Cloud, Salesforce.com, has been hacked; this exposed many thousands of customer emails and other information. Nevertheless, the statistics still support the idea that the Cloud (including Saas) is at least as secure—and in many cases more secure—than on-premises, installed systems.

"Cloud service providers view security as pivotal to what they offer...there's a strong argument that most businesses would benefit from more robust security if they do migrate to a cloud service." —Simon Brew, writer for PC Pro

Mike Lingo, chief technology officer at Astadia, points out that cloud solution vendors have usually "spent much more money on its infrastructure, security and competencies than an internal IT shop can often afford."

The harsh reality is that malicious attackers are on the rise, and about 85 percent of all U.S. companies have experienced one or more attack (source). Sony got hacked last year! Organizations should consider switching to Cloud solutions for cost savings, scalability, efficiency, and yes, security.

You will find that Torch LMS has all of these benefits, and will provide a powerful way to manage learning across your organization.