Software as a Service: What is SaaS? Some Examples and Advantages

Be it for remote access or a backup of your data; there are plenty of cloud services available. With the cloud at the front, traditional ways of working are changing. SaaS or Software as a Service is one of the popular forms of cloud services.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

Before we check out some examples of SaaS, here are some general rules about what a SaaS should offer:

  1. The cloud company offers you software for working per your need;
  2. You should not attempt to change the software functioning in any method except for the customization options provided with the software;
  3. You may or may not have to download the software to your local computer but you use the software, and the results are stored to cloud (example: backup; sync; data collection etc.)
  4. Software as a Service should be fast enough to provide services to people. For example, if it is a storage software, it should be able to provide space as and when needed. Similarly, when the need for space reduces, the software should release extra space.
  5. You should be billed only for the service you use; there should not be a definite flat fee.

Keeping the above in mind, let us check out some examples of SaaS (Software as a Service): the basic and most popular form of cloud services.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

Office Web Apps

The best example of Software as a Service (SaaS) I could think of is the Microsoft’s Office Web Apps. You can use this software from anywhere.

If you use OneDrive to log in and use the software, do not confuse between OneDrive and Office Web Apps. The latter is different from OneDrive, which is a platform (a cloud service again) that offers you remote space so that you can access your documents from anywhere. We will read about OneDrive in details in a minute.

Office Web Apps allow you to create files stored on OneDrive. You have to store the files somewhere, and OneDrive easily blends in there. Hence many confuse that Office Web Apps are part of OneDrive or vice versa. You can edit and collaborate on such files in real time. Some of you might already be using those services, especially MS Word as a Service. They provide almost all features necessary to suit your needs.

Read: Microsoft Office as a Service.

ThinkFree Office too is a good service on similar lines. It too offers you free space in the cloud to store your documents and has enough features to let you create a good document, spreadsheet or a presentation. Read about ThinkFree, An Alternative To Microsoft Office on The Windows Club.

Mozy: Software as a Service

Mozy is a well-known name in the field of cloud backup service providers. One of the initial SaaS providers, Mozy is also a good example of Software as a Service (SaaS). However, in this case, you have to download a software to your machine. You can – however – use the backup sets from any other computers as long as you remember your login credentials.

Usually, people set up the software and forget it. That makes them forget the login credentials too as I did. You might want to use one of the best password managers to login direct to Mozy using a browser. There you can access your backed up data.

I deviated a bit from the main topic in the above paragraph, but it was important to tell you to keep your login credentials in mind if you intend to access Mozy using a browser or if you have to reinstall Mozy. A password manager comes handy in such case.

Anyway, Mozy offers 2GB of storage space as free. You can get it here at mozy.com/free. As your storage demand increases, Mozy will automatically allot you more space (if you have your credit card set up already). As and when your storage demand reduces, Mozy will free up unwanted space so that you are not billed for it. For using the free 2GB space only, you need not set up your card information. In that too, you are given only as much space as you require. It is not that when you sign up, Mozy will set apart 2GB in your name. You get to use only as much space as your backup sets occupy.

OneDrive Sync

This is also somewhat like Mozy but more popular and easier to set up. You have to download a software to your local machine here as well. The software sets up which all folders need to be backed up or rather, synced. Once you set it, you can easily forget it as it will keep on syncing files as they add up to the OneDrive folder or as they change.

Other SaaS of this type includes Google Drive and Dropbox cloud. Lately, their mobile counterparts have also introduced a feature wherein they back up all the pictures you click using your mobile phone. You may disable the service whenever you want. I use the service on Dropbox as it copies images automatically to the Dropbox folder on my computer

Read: SaaS Endpoint Security Protection software.

Prey

Before we wind up, I would like to mention Prey, a software that tracks your laptop, tablet or phone. This, too, comes into the category of SaaS as you have to install a software that keeps on sending screenshots and other data to the cloud. You can view that data using any computer by logging into your Prey account. It has helped many people recover their stolen laptops and phones, so I recommend it. Read the Prey Anti Theft software review on TheWindowsClub

The above were some of the examples of Software as a Service. These days, there is no dearth of such services. They are abundant and most popular in cloud computing. If you are using one, please share with us.

Now read: Windows As A Service.

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Arun Kumar is a Microsoft MVP alumnus, obsessed with technology, especially the Internet. He deals with the multimedia content needs of training and corporate houses. Follow him on Twitter @PowercutIN

5 Comments

  1. You only need to download software for OneDrive for Operating Systems pre Windows 8, (as Windows 8 has OneDrive built into the OS) or for other OS’s and devices.

    I’m also puzzled why you have an image of Adobe’s Creative Cloud, with no mention of it in this article. With Creative Cloud, you still have to download the software, although syncing artwork and preferences can be done via the cloud, this doesn’t make it SaaS.

    SaaS has also been around since the 60’s (although back then it was known as centralized hosting) but it’s proven to be a pain in the butt when internet connections fail or the hosted sites go down rendering it useless. Google is testament to this with Gmail and their apps being unreachable after periods of downtime, which is a major disadvantage if you or your company needs to rely on web based software or services.

  2. Ed

    Your right Michael, I’d much rather have the software running off my system / pc, first security issues with the cloud outweigh having to have local storage to store your work on. Second being that if your internet connection / service goes down then what good is the cloud going to do you?

  3. I agree Ed. I love the cloud when it works. 10 years ago when the NLR (LambdaRail) were carrying out speed tests, they had many cloud services and even then they stated that anything future cloud based would have major problems if there was ever any downtime without redundancy or legacy applications.

    10 years on and they were correct and yet nothing has been implemented as a redundancy. If OneDrive or Google Services or even Office Online fail and you have important files saved online only, you’re kind of screwed, especially if you only use Office or Email online and don’t bother with local storage. At least locally you can still work, write emails (though if there is any downtime, they will be sent when the connection is restored) and get things done.

    I remember Google going down for a whole afternoon at the height of them promoting Google Business Solutions and people all over the world suffered, share prices dropped and productivity severely declined for those who used online solutions only.

    So I’m with you. I’d rather keep my desktop apps than suffer any downtime.

  4. Ed

    Bulk storage HDD’s 1TB and up are so cheap today why would one even think about storing their work or serving their apps from the cloud? It makes no sense, and better yet people ACTUALLY pay for cloud services! You can buy a decent sized HDD for what one would pay for a years worth of cloud services …… at least you would have something TANGIBLE for what you spent your money on … LMAO
    IMO, the cloud is just a catastrophe waiting to happen. What’s going to happen when hackers and others with ill intent learn how to inject malware, viruses and malicious code into cloud services and apps?
    Don’t get me wrong, I use some cloud services, mainly for temporary storage but I never put anything into the cloud that I cannot afford to lose.

  5. Actually, the main use for the cloud is for off site storage. You can use all the NAS boxes in the world and have Petabytes of storage, but if you have a fire, a flood, hardware failure or theft then you lose everything. So, as I mentioned above, the cloud is useful when it works well.

    Hackers have already used ransomeware in the cloud. Feedly the RSS reader service was held at ransom when Cryptolocker and GameOver Zues (which is back again) was waging war (before the governments seized them) and if you used any 3rd party app like NextGen Reader for Windows 8 Modern UI, then this app is utterly useless as it uses Feedly’s API. And NexGEN Reader is a paid for app too!

    So it’s hit and miss. For me, I use the cloud for portable and off site storage and I won’t rely on it for the use of apps, especially in a business environment until 100% redundancy can be achieved.

    There is also now Cloud Insurance. For a small fee, you can insure your data.Still, not great if you happen to lose data, but may be handy to cover your butt in business via indemnity.

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