Software as a service (or SaaS; pronounced /sæs/) is a way of delivering centrally hosted applications over the Internet—as a service. SaaS applications are sometimes called web-based software, on-demand software, or hosted software. Whatever the name, SaaS applications run on a SaaS provider’s servers.
Instead of installing and maintaining software, you simply access it via the Internet, freeing yourself from complex software and hardware management. The provider manages access to the application, including security, availability, and performance. SaaS business applications are usually accessed by users using a thin client via a web browser.
- High adoption
- Lower initial costs
- Painless upgrades
- Seamless integration
SaaS facilitates remote application hosting and delivery, making this the key advantage of SaaS: painless application access. SaaS customers have no hardware or software to buy, install, maintain, or update. Access to applications is easy—you just need an Internet connection.
A good way to understand the SaaS model is by thinking of a bank, which protects the privacy of each customer while providing service that is reliable and secure—on a massive scale. A bank’s customers all use the same financial systems and technology without worrying about anyone accessing their personal information without authorization.
A “bank” meets the key characteristics of the SaaS model: