When Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) entered the market, there were naysayers who were quick to claim that it was a mere fad. Over a decade has passed, yet the model continues to develop, proving that it’s the solution for the future.
SaaS history is still short. In fact, a lot of businesses are just now discovering what they have been missing out on. More and more marketing professionals are becoming curious about SaaS and how they can utilize the technology for their business.
There are plenty of resources available on the Internet about SaaS. However, most of these only discuss the benefits and fail to touch on the limitations. If you’re still learning about SaaS, this article will allow you to further your knowledge.
How Does SaaS Work?
SaaS involves hosting data in a cloud environment, which can be accessed through the Internet, rather than saving it on a person’s computer. The user then pays monthly subscription fees.
Because of its features, the SaaS model provides numerous benefits.
SaaS allows users to save on costs by eliminating the need to buy licensed software and install it on one’s computer. Traditional models, generally, can only be installed on a single device. So if your business utilizes five computers, you’d have to purchase five applications and install them separately.
In contrast, the SaaS model entails zero to light installation. It also eliminates maintenance and upgrade costs since the third-party provider takes care of it.
SaaS boosts business efficiency as it is accessible anywhere. You don’t need a desktop computer to access your data. Any device that has Internet access is sufficient.
SaaS also affords flexibility because it allows users to choose the features and other subscription arrangements they want. You’re not forced to subscribe to a one-model-fits-all template; instead, you can subscribe to features that match your business requirements.
3 Limitations of SaaS (and Viable Solutions)
However, the discussion on SaaS shouldn’t stop at its advantages. Learning about its limitations as well is the only way you can maximize the model.
1. Dependence on Speedy Internet
It’s true that SaaS can improve your efficiency. There is a caveat to that statement, though. It will only be true if you have a reliable and high-speed Internet connection.
How does Internet Speed Affect the Cloud System?
Since accessing SaaS requires the Internet, the workflow will be affected by the Internet speed of individuals accessing the software. Regardless of the stability of your provider’s system, you may still experience disruptions if any of your workers have unreliable Internet connections.
Organizations based in developed nations will not have much problem. But the opposite is true for organizations based in or who employ workers from developing nations.
The Internet has connected employers and workers around the world. It has facilitated billions of dollars of economic activity and created millions of jobs.
Offshore jobs are a large contributor to the Internet market. While salary costs are reduced, employers often have to deal with connectivity issues in the hosting country.
A lot of companies who use SaaS offer off-shore jobs to low-wage countries that have a poor Internet connection, making them vulnerable to connectivity issues.
What are Viable Solutions to Unreliable Internet Speed?
Poor telecommunication infrastructure in other countries is out of your control. To prevent such problem from causing delays in your workflow, you must understand the connectivity capabilities available to the workers you employ.
You can set a minimum Internet speed requirement when hiring to ensure that workers have no excuse once hired. It will also allow you to select workers that have the basic tools necessary for your business operations.
2. Cloud Interoperability
What is Cloud Interoperability?
Interoperability is the ability of component parts of a system to successfully operate together, without extra effort from the user.
In application, this means that as a SaaS customer, you probably use SaaS applications in conjunction with your private cloud. When working, you’d want to transfer data from the SaaS applications to the cloud and vice versa without any hassle.
Such aspect of cloud software, unfortunately, is restrained. Some SaaS providers can’t guarantee real-time interoperability between SaaS applications and the users’ private clouds.
What are Viable Solutions for Cloud Interoperability?
Many SaaS providers have addressed this limitation by developing Application Programming Interface (API).
Understanding how API works would require knowledge of technicalities. As a user, what you need to know is that APIs allow you to complete interactions without leaving the application.
Your provider has written code that will eradicate the hassle of using SaaS and make the system operate smoothly and in real time.
Aside from that, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has also developed standards—Cloud Data Management Interface (CDMI) and Open Virtualization Format (OVF)—that address interoperability issues.
Once ratified, these standards will ensure that all SaaS developers have interoperability features that adhere to industry standards.
In the meantime, be sure to scrutinize the features offered by your prospective providers. If your resources permit, take care of your own integration system.
3. Vendor Lock-In
As cloud software becomes more popular, SaaS vendors offering their services in the market also increase. As a way of keeping customers, SaaS providers can’t help but set up certain vendor lock-in principles.
What is Vendor Lock-in and How Does it Affect Me?
Vendor lock-in is a scenario where a customer becomes dependent on the products and services of a vendor because switching vendors will make him incur substantial costs.
In application, when you select a SaaS provider, it means you’re accepting the standards, protocols, and tools that such provider has. Those elements most likely differ from what other providers utilize.
There are even some systems that are completely incompatible with one another. Because of this, migrating from one server to another can be a complicated and costly endeavor—enough reason for some customers to stick with their current provider even if it means they have to settle for less.
How Can I Avoid Vendor Lock-in?
The solution to avoid being locked in against your will is to be critical in choosing a provider. Before selecting one, check first whether the SaaS provider adheres to standards-based technology or has a completely different database system.
You should also check the types of APIs that the vendor employs. When a vendor uses few APIs, it means you’re going to be dependent on the processes and rules set by the vendor.
Fewer APIs and lack of database standards lead to higher chances of vendor lock-in. So be sure to watch out for these factors at the outset.
You should also adopt a temporary mindset when contracting a provider. Early on, plan an exit strategy, like a cloud pre-nuptial agreement, to allow you to gauge the potential costs of migrating to another server.
Business solutions like SaaS are developed precisely to aid individuals and organizations in their affairs. But you must be diligent in acquiring all crucial information before you implement them in your own organization.
Learn about both the benefits and limitations of the model. By knowing about the limitations, you are protecting yourself from unwarranted inconvenience and equipping yourself with practical solutions.