Despite its growing demand, Software as a Service (SaaS) is still misunderstood by most Indian IT professionals. This is why I decided to have a look at the 10 common myths about SAAS.
Security: "I am used to storing my data on my server. Now if a vendor asks me to store data on their servers, is it really secure?" Most of the CIOs feel this way about SaaS. The reality is that your typical SaaS vendor is quite attuned to security policies and has actually built security within their business. These vendors have all the policies and infrastructure to safeguard your data. Your data is more secure with the vendor's hosting infrastructure than with your internal network. Obviously, it goes without saying that you need to evaluate the SaaS vendor and check if he has security policy meeting your comfort level.
Loss of control over my application: Many CIOs feel that the entire SaaS process will lead to losing control of your data and your applications. Now, if you put your money in the bank, does it mean that your money belongs to the bank? Similarly, you can exercise complete control over your data by defining the right service level agreements (SLA). If you plan to switch between vendors, you should ensure that you get your data back. You can also opt for a pay-per use model.
SAAS is new, unproven and hype: I think everyone uses SaaS in some form or the other. If you use webmail such as Gmail, it is nothing but SaaS. So it is certainly not new. People try to compare SaaS with the application service provider model, which did not work during the late '90s due to bandwidth restrictions. That model was not right for its time, since web technology did not mature. On the other hand, SaaS is here to stay.
Difficult to integrate and customize: Some companies have their application programming interface (API) which is specifically designed to help integration with your systems or on-premise applications. So it's best to define your business requirement and take a free trial. Choose the kind of service only if you are satisfied with the trial.
Threat to IT: Most CIOs are under the impression that their IT team will not have any role in the organization if SaaS is in place. The fear is that these jobs will become redundant. This is not true.
You are actually freeing up resources so that they can work on strategic issues to help you grow within organization. There are several SaaS tools available for IT management, where the IT team can get away from managing the day-to-day hassles of systems and network management.
Expensive: Setting up IT infrastructure is more expensive than SaaS. There are expenses on fronts such as software licenses, installed servers, people to manage the software, backup servers and upgrade costs. With SaaS, everything is included in one price. It reduces the CIO's worries, since everything is outsourced.
SaaS is for small companies: According to a research done by a US-based company, only 4% of the large companies will not use SaaS in the coming year. Most large companies already use SaaS. They use it within their team first, and then move it to the entire enterprise.
Fewer features: "My on-premise software is much more powerful than your SaaS software," opine most CIOs. Now, SaaS applications are built around APIs. There are several communities for building APIs like those required for iPhone applications, SaaS mobile versions and connecting to other applications. It is a very powerful movement.
SaaS is only for CRM and front office applications: There is a SaaS product or service for every possible industry vertical. SaaS solutions are steadily penetrating different business system domains.
High learning curve: Most people feel that SaaS is very difficult to use, since most of them are not used to the web model. For a SaaS vendor, simplicity is the key. Since SaaS models are widely adopted, it is necessary for a vendor to keep it simple. In fact, many companies follow a Web 2.0 model to gain adoption. Most vendors give free trials to achieve the comfort factor.
I would like to conclude with a quote by Marc Benioff of Salesforce.com, "The future of computing is on the Internet. What we're witnessing is the end of software."
Sahil Parikh is the founder and CEO of DeskAway. This column is an excerpt from Parekh's speech at a recent IT event.
(Collated by Yuga Chaudhari.)