Cloud Computing Software as a Service(SaaS)

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Software as a Service (SaaS) model allows to provide software application as a service to the end users. It refers to a software that is deployed on a hosted service and is accessible via Internet. There are several SaaS applications, some of them are listed below:

  • Billing and Invoicing System

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) applications

  • Help Desk Applications

  • Human Resource (HR) Solutions

Some of the SaaS applications are not customizable such as an Office Suite. But SaaS provides us Application Programming Interface (API), which allows the developer to develop a customized application.

Characteristics

Here are the characteristics of SaaS service model:

  • SaaS makes the software available over the Internet.

  • The Software are maintained by the vendor rather than where they are running.

  • The license to the software may be subscription based or usage based. And it is billed on recurring basis.

  • SaaS applications are cost effective since they do not require any maintenance at end user side.

  • They are available on demand.

  • They can be scaled up or down on demand.

  • They are automatically upgraded and updated.

  • SaaS offers share data model. Therefore, multiple users can share single instance of infrastructure. It is not required to hard code the functionality for individual users.

  • All users are running same version of the software.

Benefits

Using SaaS has proved to be beneficial in terms of scalability, efficiency, performance and much more. Some of the benefits are listed below:

  • Modest Software Tools

  • Efficient use of Software Licenses

  • Centralized Management & Data

  • Platform responsibilities managed by provider

  • Multitenant solutions

Modest Software Tools

The SaaS application deployment requires a little or no client side software installation which results in the following benefits:

  • No requirement for complex software packages at client side

  • Little or no risk of configuration at client side

  • Low distribution cost

Efficient use of Software Licenses

The client can have single license for multiple computers running at different locations which reduces the licensing cost. Also, there is no requirement for license servers because the software runs in the provider's infrastructure.

Centralized Management & Data

The data stored by the cloud provider is centralized. However, the cloud providers may store data in a decentralized manner for sake of redundancy and reliability.

Platform responsibilities managed by providers

All platform responsibilities such as backups, system maintenance, security, hardware refresh, power management, etc., are performed by the cloud provider. The consumer need not to bother about them.

Multitenant Solutions

Multitenancy allows multiple users to share single instance of resources in virtual isolation. Consumers can customize their application without affecting the core functionality.

Issues

There are several issues associated with SaaS, some of them are listed below:

  • Browser based risks

  • Network dependence

  • Lack of portability between SaaS clouds

Browser based risks

If the consumer visits malicious website and browser becomes infected, and the subsequent access to SaaS application might compromise the consumer's data.

To avoid such risks, the consumer can use multiple browsers and dedicate a specific browser to access SaaS applications or can use virtual desktop while accessing the SaaS applications.

Network dependence

The SaaS application can be delivered only when network is continuously available. Also network should be reliable but the network reliability cannot be guaranteed either by cloud provider or the consumer.

Lack of portability between SaaS clouds

Transferring workloads from one SaaS cloud to another is not so easy because work flow, business logics, user interfaces, support scripts can be provider specific.

Open SaaS and SOA

Open SaaS uses SaaS applications that are developed using open source programming language. These SaaS applications can run on any open source operating system and database. Open SaaS has several benefits, some of these are listed below:

  • No License Required

  • Low Deployment Cost

  • Less Vendor Lock-in

  • More portable applications

  • More Robust Solution

The following diagram shows the SaaS implementation based on SOA:

cloud_computing Tutorial

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