SaaSy software

SaaSOne of the things that helps pay the bills at tech-52 is my consulting business.

Every once in awhile, I take on a side project that puts both my writing skills and information technology experience to work.

My latest project involves researching and writing an IT white paper for a SaaS company that provides health-tracking, fitness and wellness tools for its corporate clients and their employees.

SaaS stands for Software as a Service. You might not think much about it, but examples are everywhere. Two very prominent SaaS providers are Adobe, with its Creative Cloud product; and Microsoft, with its Office 365 product.

Underlying foundation

Underlying any SaaS product is, of course, the Internet. It’s both heartening and telling to realize that the Internet in its purest form is capable of sustaining all manner of enterprises.Internet

It’s heartening because anyone with an idea and the will to realize it can build a company based on the Internet.

It’s also telling, because if big, rich Internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon were able to usurp the Internet for their own purposes, things might very well be different.

And we’d be the worse for it. That’s why net neutrality is so important. But I digress.

What SaaS companies basically are able to provide are products and services for specific groups of customers who can access those products and services from anywhere, any time. All that’s required is an Internet connection.

SaaS architecture

SaaS products are different from typical eCommerce services whereby you go online to a virtual store front and make a purchase. Although SaaS products use similar infrastructures to eCommerce, the difference is that they tend to enable and support ongoing relationships with their customers.

For example, one SaaS company enables its customers, who are mainly corporations, to provide a rewards system for their employees. Employees are given accounts and they are able to log in, learn about the program, collect their rewards, and recommend others employees for rewards. The intent is to build team spirit, camaraderie, and employee morale.

The structure looks something like this:

how-saas-works2

Of course, this is a dramatically simplified illustration. Designing, building, and maintaining a SaaS product and the infrastructure on which it operates is a monumental effort.

And each SaaS vendor does it a little differently, depending on what services are being provided. For my current project, I’m about to drill down and understand in gory detail how my client’s SaaS infrastructure is designed, supported, maintained, and certified. Should be interesting.

The SaaS value proposition

For corporations that decide to deploy a product from a SaaS vendor, there must be a very real value proposition: it must solve a business problem.

value_proposition2As alluded to earlier, the goal might be to improve employee morale, or to empower employees, or to encourage teamwork and camaraderie. Or all of the above.

Beyond the business goals that a SaaS product might achieve for a client company, the attraction is that the product already comes built and ready to go.

Typically, the SaaS vendor will work with the corporate client to rebrand the product using the customer’s corporate identity, and to provide support for rolling out the product to users.

With a minimum of effort, the corporate customer is able to deploy a valuable service to its employees, and make it look like the corporation’s own product.

Roll out several such services, and employees feel empowered and valued. And that’s a very good thing, indeed.

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