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CIO Gives Tips on How to Choose the Right SaaS Provider

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July 25, 2013

CIO Gives Tips on How to Choose the Right SaaS Provider

By Daniel Brecht, Contributing Writer

Appointment-Plus, a SaaS (News - Alert) and Internet company launched in 2001, offers solutions to businesses to help them operate more efficiently and effectively. The company offers its own all-in-one online Scheduling Cloud enterprise solution, a cloud-based scheduling software that provides appointment scheduling for clients’ self- booking needs. Despite their product, Appointment-Plus has released to the public some important cloud computing tips that could possible benefit those implementing Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications into their business operations.

As many already know, SaaS is a software delivery model where software runs from “the cloud.” It is a way of distributing software over the Internet—as a service (hence the name). Such network-based services are hosted by a service provider. So instead of companies installing software in their own servers, software providers host the software at their site and provide the service for clients—at a paid subscription.

It is also important to know that SaaS is sometimes referred to as "on-demand software" that is supplied by Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) or Application-Service-Providers (ASPs), which specialize in making or selling software.

SaaS, together with Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), is one of the benefits of the growth of cloud computing, which will probably be part of most enterprises' futures.

In recent years, SaaS has flourished and usage is growing fast: It has been widely adopted because of the many benefits it offers to businesses of all sizes and types. Having software and associated data centrally hosted on the cloud by the vendor/provider has proved to be cost-effective, scalable and flexible.

Basically, SaaS has been the means to transform business processes with programmable services, remarked Bill McNee, CEO of research consulting firm Saugatuck Technology; he is the man who introduced the SaaS 2.0 concept that took this common delivery model for many business applications to a new level: a third generation of SaaS (3G-SaaS) solutions, which has now come to revolutionize IT sourcing.

As more and more businesses are employing SaaS business-support solutions and the right apps for their enterprise, choosing the right hosting provider requires due diligence and investigation, suggested a post written on July 19 for Virtual-Strategy Magazine (VSM).

In the VSM post, viewers are told about Gartner’s (News - Alert) prediction of SaaS’s growth: “According to Gartner [a technology research and advisory company], the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) market will reach sales of $22.1 billion in 2015.” The results from last year, in fact, note that worldwide SaaS-based delivery experienced a healthy growth at $14.5 billion, a 17.9 percent increase from 2011 revenue of $12.3 billion; this suggests that the SaaS software revenue market will continue to rise this year on to 2015.

These days, there are many SaaS companies or vendors/providers that market cloud-based software and services; however, not all of them are created equal – that is to say that not every SaaS provider offers customization capabilities to meet specific needs and software that is cost-effective. Therefore, there are many considerations to bear in mind when choosing a SaaS company.As the CIO of Appointment-Plus, Stephen Booze, put it, "selecting an inadequate service could have dire circumstances, internally and externally, as well as financially.” He stated there are four things to look for when choosing an enterprise SaaS provider:

  • The functionality provided by the service, Booze believes is a top consideration. As well as the knowledge of what types of web applications/web services one will find offered in the cloud.
  • It’s important to be informed of whether or not the provider can deliver a reliable and stable end-to-end platform. Potential clients should inquire and find out if the provider can assure 99.99 percent uptime.
  • Customers also need to ask what security controls are in place for protecting the services and data coming and going over the network— if secured through traditional firewalls—as the cloud is a place most susceptible to hack attacks and threats. Also they need to ascertain if the vendor follows standard security practices that incorporate back-up procedures and data storage. One must always check the security credentials of the SaaS provider, Booze stressed, and determine if the cloud services offer security or privacy by default.
  • Last but not least, clients need to become aware of which SaaS providers are reputable and trustworthy; this can be easily done via references and speaking with current users. There is nothing like feedback from real-life user experiences, Booze emphasized.

Of course, there could be more things to discover about a SaaS provider prior to signing a contract. What it comes down to is, as Booze states, that “it’s imperative for enterprises to research SaaS providers before making their selection.”

Edited by Alisen Downey

Technology Marketing Corporation

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