Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is becoming increasingly popular for businesses to use as it offers a wide range of applications delivered via the cloud.

SaaS offers an alternative to buying, building, configuring and maintaining hardware and software on-premises. Instead of installing an application on an expensive server, organisations can subscribe to services and applications built on shared infrastructure via the cloud.

So what are the main benefits of SaaS?

Price

SaaS can deliver significant savings for many reasons. IT gets rid of the upfront cost of purchase and installation as well as ongoing costs associated with maintenance and upgrades.

Also, the pay-as-you-go nature of SaaS means that many businesses only pay for what they need without having to over-provision services or hardware they would only need at times of peak demand. Also, using SaaS changes IT spending from capital expenditure to operating expenditure. This means firms aren't committed to any long-term spending.

Another benefit for small businesses is that they have access to enterprise-class software that would be otherwise financially out of reach.

Time

SaaS can save not only money but also time. For a lot of SaaS applications, installation means just having a browser connected to the internet and log-in details.

Also, there's time saved in not having to carry out any maintenance or upgrades on the application or its underlying hardware, since the SaaS provider does all of this.

Scalability

SaaS offers a great deal of options and flexibility. As the software is hosted by the vendor, changing things such as the number of users on the service or how much each of them uses the service can be done easily and without advance notice.

Also, subscribers accessing services via the web can do so from any location as long as they are connected to the internet.

Compatibility

Moving from one version of an application to another is not always straightforward. Sometimes a difference in version can lead to compatibility problems between users. This can waste valuable time. With SaaS applications, subscribers can log-in to a service that is upgraded for all users.

Getting the latest features

With traditional software, getting all the latest features meant a laborious upgrade path before you could access any new features the software offered. With SaaS, new features are available almost instantaneously to the user. Instead of the user's IT department carrying out a migration to the latest version over the course of weeks and months (and sometimes years), the vendor does this all themselves. All the user has to do is log-in and the features are available.

Ease of use

Using a browser is now second nature to the vast majority of people. As SaaS applications tend to be accessed through these browsers, the learning curve is not so steep for users. This means they can get productive almost straight away, with little or no need for a training course.