The promise of rapid time-to-market combined with lower total cost of ownership continues to drive the adoption of software-as-a-service (SaaS) among small and mid-sized businesses. This on-demand or hosted application model delivers significant benefits through quick adoption, reduced IT costs and increased budget flexibility. Better yet, outsourcing allows staff to focus on business-related initiatives rather than spending valuable energy selecting, implementing, and maintaining complex on-site solutions.
Companies considering this new application delivery model should examine several issues, including: Which applications are suitable for consumption through an online model? How can we make the transition to an online service without incurring system downtime or inducing confusion among employees and staff? And which provider is the right one for us, not just today but tomorrow as well?
What to Outsource?
For many small and mid-sized businesses, the question is not whether to outsource but which application to outsource first. In the past, SaaS offerings were limited to applications such as enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management, and the like.
Now, however, organisations of all sizes have discovered that online infrastructure services lend themselves well to this model by providing easy, fast, cost-effective access to applications such as backup and storage that protect and store mission critical data.
With traditional on-site backup and storage, for example, the many methods that must be considered to protect data, combined with the host of time-intensive processes required to configure the environment, yields complexity and opportunity for human error. This complexity can be particularly problematic in small and mid-sized organisations with few — if any — IT personnel. Consequently, outsourcing such important and challenging applications to an expert can provide welcome relief.
But outsourcing backup or storage is not just a cost-effective strategy for easing IT burdens. By putting crucial IT tasks into the hands of an experienced and trusted SaaS provider, businesses can implement business continuity and disaster recovery plans for critical data, and reduce the risk of failing to comply with critical industry or government data protection regulations.
Furthermore, moving to a SaaS model for infrastructure applications can give organisations the flexibility they need to meet their own changing business requirements. For example, with data volumes growing at unprecedented rates, organisations must be able to store, manage, and maintain this data — and bear the associated costs of deploying new hardware, consuming more power, and other physical matters. However, in a SaaS model, these responsibilities shift to the service provider.
Making the Move
The ease and speed with which an organisation transitions to a SaaS application model depends largely upon the application and the service provider. In general, however, moving to a SaaS application model is much simpler and faster than deploying a similar solution in-house.
Better yet, no up-front investment is required.
Getting started with online backup, for example, is designed to be virtually effortless on the part of the end-user. An organisation signs up for the service, then selects how much data should be stored and for how long. A pay-as-you-go model based