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New Options for Off-Site Data Backup and Remote Computing

(November 2008) posted on Wed Nov 05, 2008

Ensuring the safety and security of your business


SaaS is a model for software deployment where an application is hosted as a service provided to customers across the Internet. By eliminating the need to install and run the application on the customer’s own computer, SaaS also eliminates the customer’s responsibility for software maintenance, ongoing operation, and support.

Customers generally release control over software versions or customization requirements. Costs to use the service become a continuous expense, much like a subscription model, rather than a single expense at time of purchase. To overcome this limitation, many SaaS software platforms offer what is known as an Application Programming Interface, or API, that allows third-party customization through the API function. Many of these Web-based applications use Open Source software, which enables anyone, anywhere, to write specific code and have it integrated for their specific use.

Using SaaS also can conceivably reduce the up-front expense of software purchases through less costly, on-demand pricing. From the software vendor’s standpoint, SaaS has the attraction of providing stronger protection of its intellectual property and establishing an ongoing revenue stream. The SaaS software vendor may host the application on its own Web server, or this function may be handled by a third-party application service provider (ASP). This way, end users may reduce their investment on server hardware as well. As software development becomes more and more complex, and the need for the release of new major versions (like Adobe’s Creative Suite) becomes more and more expensive, SaaS offers both vendors and users considerable economic flexibility.

An example of this is Salesforce.com, an online sales, marketing, and contact-management application. Salesforce.com has been so successful that the company now offers Force.com as a flexible, scalable software-application platform. They realized that their basic offering goes well beyond what Salesforce.com offers. Force.com uses the basic core-software database structure based on free, open-source code. They’ve built their model using the same tools that Google has so third parties can write their own software as plug-ins to extend specific capabilities. Force.com currently offers more than 800 third-party applications that users can add to customize their sites to do virtually anything they can imagine when it comes to organizing and running a business. You can also find this same approach with Google, Yahoo, Firefox, and Amazon, and it’s emerging to a lesser degree at IBM, HP, and even Microsoft.


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