Software as a Service: Convenience in the Cloud

Cloud, Salesforce May 15, 2014

With the dramatic rise in popularity that cloud computing has gained in recent years, you have doubtless heard that a move to the cloud can provide tremendous benefits to your business – but how can you be sure it is the right fit for you? And what exactly are these benefits? RTS Labs has extensive experience working with cutting-edge cloud technologies; we are prepared to answer these questions, and many more, to help you determine how your business can get the most out of what the cloud has to offer.

Cloud technology provides services for a wide array of computing needs, which can be broken down into three categories:

        • Software as a Service (SaaS)
        • Platform as a Service (PaaS)
        • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

We will be focusing specifically on the Software as a Service features of cloud computing, but we will also be evaluating the benefits of the Platform as a Service and Infrastructure as a Service cloud computing models – which share many of the positive features discussed below – in future posts.

Software designed for your business needs. ‘Software as a Service’ is a software delivery model in which users access software and information through a network connection, while the actual data is stored on remote servers, referred to collectively as ‘the cloud’. This differs from a traditional software licensing model because it does not require the supported software to be downloaded onto a single, specific device before it can be accessed. Rather, a user can access their software and associated data through any device with an internet connection, as long as the appropriate credentials are presented. Cloud based software has been developed to enhance many essential business functions, such as accounting, invoicing, sales, communications, and CRM services. These services provide a distinct advantage to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), allowing access to a full range of top-of-the-line software that would have been difficult to attain in previous business models.

Software that is affordable. SaaS is typically managed on a pay-per-use subscription basis, allowing you to accommodate the exact needs of your business upon adoption and to scale your usage easily as those needs change. As such, SaaS models provide a flexibility that is not present in a traditional software model, while reducing much of the upfront financial investment involved in purchasing up-to-date software. The scalability inherent in a pay-per-use model provides a distinct advantage to SMBs, removing the capital investment that previously limited access to the most innovative technologies to much larger companies and effectively leveling the playing field between competitors. Not only can SMBs upgrade their aging systems efficiently with this pay-per-use method, but, because companies are no longer as committed to a specific product, they can also innovate and explore new directions for their software needs at any time. This financial and operational freedom allows companies to choose the best solutions for each of their needs, switching providers and scaling services whenever it would prove most beneficial.

Software that is accessible. In addition to the fiscal benefits of transitioning to cloud based software, there are many qualities which are designed to streamline your day-to-day business experience. Initial adoption is simple because installation, start-up procedures, and maintenance are all conducted by your cloud service provider. And with many major software companies moving their services to the cloud, e.g. Microsoft’s Office 365, it is possible to avoid an unnecessary learning curve that could otherwise delay or inhibit employee adoption. Once a system has been adopted, the physical limitations of traditional software models no longer apply. Because the software and data stored in the cloud are accessible through a network connection, personnel can access real-time data on the move — whenever, wherever. However, since decision making on-the-go might not always yield the best results for your company (potentially leading to multitasking and inattentiveness), you are able to determine what access modes or restrictions work best for you.

Software that is secure. Access controls are just one of the many opportunities cloud computing services provide to secure your data. While data security is often expressed as a major concern by those considering adopting cloud services, the security risks associated with the cloud are the same as those facing traditional systems with an internet connection. Cloud services would benefit from many familiar precautions, such as password security, as well as the additional security options inherent with the system, which primarily consist of the choice of how your data will be stored. The selections include choosing between a public or private cloud, or developing a hybrid solution, which isolates your sensitive data on either a private cloud server or a traditional on-site data center while allowing your typical processes to be conducted within a public cloud system.

How do I start?

With the vast array of cloud software options, the challenge becomes first determining which features would be most appropriate for your business – whether that involves a full transition to the cloud or solutions that can be integrated with existing systems – and then identifying which providers are best suited to meet those needs. With this, RTS Labs can help – we have experience with a wide array of SaaS providers and the business know-how to provide the best value for your company. Once we have helped you to determine the ideal fit for your budget and needs, RTS Labs will implement and configure your cloud software solutions to your exact specifications.

One such Software as a Service in which we specialize is the Salesforce platform – an integrated software solution that can provide for CRM, service, marketing, inventory management, and HR needs. RTS Labs can help determine the features, system, and level of customization that are appropriate for your business, and then implement those decisions, optimizing your experience with the Salesforce platform from adoption.

To learn more about how RTS Labs can help with your Salesforce.com, or any other SaaS, needs, contact us today so that we can get started putting cloud technologies to work for your business.