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Last edited 16 Jun 2020
Software as a Service SaaS
Software as a Service (SaaS) is a cloud-based approach to technology that allows clients to purchase certain types of software on a subscription basis. Since the arrangement is cloud-based, clients can access the service anywhere, as long as they have a valid license and access to the Internet.
Using the Software as a Service approach typically involves paying a monthly per user fee for a license. The software vendor hosts the software, and users generally access it through the Internet with a web browser.
Open SaaS is a variation of Software as a Service (SaaS), that uses open source, rather than proprietary software. Open SaaS is generally also web-based, with users collaborating to its development, however, a single primary service provider manages official product upgrades.
In the 1960s, it was unusual for businesses to own and operate their own computers. The hardware and software were expensive, and for small to medium sized businesses, owning a computer was not practical.
However, some organisations found they could tap into the power of computers by using a method referred to as time sharing. This became one of the primary methods of computing in the 1970s. Conceptually, it was very similar to Software as a Service (which wouldn't be available for several decades).
As computers became less expensive, businesses could afford to purchase them, and eventually, desktop personal computers became more common.
In the 1990s, the growth of the Internet prompted the emergence of centralised computing vendors known as application service providers (ASP) offering specialised business applications through centralised administration processes, which made them more affordable for small and medium sized businesses. Computer-based tools (such as computer-aided facilities management, computer-aided maintenance management and computerised asset management) became widely available to facilities managers around the same time.
 SaaS for facility management
Since about 2015, there has been a significant move to cloud-based computing for many facilities and building management processes, and Software as a Service has been gaining market share. Many offerings are available for tablets or mobile devices, which makes them suitable for onsite use. As a result, Software as a Service has become a more common delivery model for computer aided design (CAD), building information modelling (BIM), collaboration tools, project management, construction management, enterprise resource planning (ERP) and work order management.
For facility management departments,Software as a Service can be helpful when users do not have extensive technical knowledge of IT systems as an external vendor is in charge of the technical aspects. Facility managers can often request customisation that is tailored to their needs, meaning they pay only for the services that are required, rather than paying for a full software package.
- Adaptable for handheld or desk-based access anywhere.
- Able to operate on any type of operating system as long as there is Internet access.
- Secure backups offered as a service through the provider.
- User permissions managed and customised, based on user requirements.
- Automatic updates handled by the service provider.
 Position in the market
There are a number of factors that may be responsible for the slow acceptance of Software as a Service:
- Connectivity issues (including lagging delivery) due to power failures or Internet outages.
- Security of data (particularly as it relates to data protection regulations) and vulnerability due to possible breaches.
- Problems with licenses and compliance (particularly if users are not authorised to access copies of the software).
- Reluctance to adopt updates and upgrades based on vendor's timetables (not based on the user’s willingness or ability to accommodate the change).
- Requirements and consequences associated with maintenance and training.
Another risk associated with Software as a Service is the dependence on a single vendor. This presents a problem if the vendor goes out of business but still holds the organisation’s data (which becomes even more complicated when the customer needs to retrieve data from a system that is no longer supported - or even operating).
One way to protect against data loss is to adopt the process of Software as a Service data escrow. This option backs up data with a third party that is not affiliated with the Software as a Service provider.
The use of a Service Level Agreement (SLA) may also impede the success of the Software as a Service approach. While an SLA is traditionally associated with product delivery, this type of contractual infrastructure can also be applied to the Software as a Service delivery method. The goal of the SLA is to set realistic expectations for both the service provider and the customer, however, this is a relatively new method of conducting business, which means it may be difficult to determine accurate parameters for the delivery of the service despite the need.
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