What is SaaS

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Nothing to do with being sassy.  Everything to do with clouds.

SaaS is an acronym that stands for ‘Software AA Service’.  But I reckon that still doesn’t help much if you’re not a bit geeky.  Its not complicated though.

Instead of installing a piece of software on your computer (like you might do with say Microsoft Word), with SaaS, you simply use your browser to access software that’s been hosted in the cloud by the provider.  Software becomes a service that you use, rather than a piece of code that you install on your computer.

The last few years have seen a huge increase in the variety of software tools available on a SaaS basis, from simple desktop applications like wordprocessing and spreadsheets, through to enterprise software like CRM and HRM systems.

Payment for SaaS is often a monthly access fee, compared to a one-off purchase fee for traditional software.  There are often ‘freemium’ pricing models, where you can try out the basic service for free, and only pay for premium elements such as more features, storage or users.

I’ve been using SaaS tools more and more frequently over the past three years.  One of the key benefits I’ve experienced, is how they’ve enabled effective collaboration with colleagues.  Because they’re in the cloud and we’re sharing the same platform, they’ve  helped enormously with the real-time creation of documents by remote teams; and the tedium (or confusion) of managing change control.

SaaS tools can help deliver two elements which feature in many organisational ICT strategies – enabling collaboration and creative working within organisations; and reducing the overall cost of technology ownership.  They’ve already gained much traction in the private sector technology world, but are only just beginning to make an impact in organisations delivering public services.  I wonder if this is simply an awareness issue, or whether folks have experienced problems?

Over the coming months, I’m going to write about the various tools I’m already using, and new ones that appear.  I hope you find it useful.  Feel free to use the comments to raise any questions or share your experience of using different services.

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