By Ben Weiner | CEO, Conjungo

The whole notion of SaaS is that as it is known in the trade, is a great idea, has many benefits but it is, I believe still in it’s fancy. The benefits of SaaS are well documented but not necessarily understood simply because of the terminology used to describe them.

One of the key benefits of SaaS that seems to be ignored is that the aim of such a system is to deliver a solution that is paid for as and when people use the system i.e. they pay for according to what they use. So, to draw an analogy, why pay for a large bottle of a carbonated beverage when you only want a cup? Of course you can buy a can thereby resolving this particular issue!

Typically, technology vendors have used a licence model which means that users will pay a fee on a per user whereas with SaaS, users pay for what they use rather than for licences that they may never actually use or only use on an ad hoc basis. It redefines the term value in the true sense allowing the customer greater choice and flexibility.

According to Matt McCloskey, Head of Applications & Services with Virgin Media Business , the ideal ‘cloud’ solutions should be:

●Scalable - a solution able to be developed and expanded quickly when required, in line with customer needs.

●Virtual - to shield the end user from the complexities that makes the solution possible, presenting users with only with the resources that they want and not the intricacies’ behind the systems.

●On demand - with resources allocated and then removed in seconds when finished with.

●IP-based - so the solution can operate seamlessly in any environment and using any hardware or operating system.

●Multi-tenanted - so that a single resource is used to share multiple applications among multiple users, enabling proper cost benefits to be realised.

●Measurable -with the solution’s performance backed by a well defined and clearly understood service level agreement. This will ensure high level of service and guard potential issues and problems.

●Priced by usage -so that the service is paid for according to the value it delivers and the use that’s made of it.

I have to agree with Matt, the key issue again, is that you pay for the service or software according usage and not on a licence basis. For example, Conjungo has a campaign management, lead tracking tool that is truly SaaS – our customers pay per campaign so don’t have to assign budget to a service that may never use.

So, what’s the real definition of SaaS and what else should you look out for when investigating what is the right option for you and your organisation?

For a solution to be a real SaaS model, then the following should apply:

•All software upgrades should be included in the subscription fee

•That the company can guarantee that the service is always up to date i.e. using the latest version of the software

•That all updates are included in the fee and that there will not be any issues or disruption when upgrades are implemented

•That the solution can be configured to meet your individual needs

Right now, there doesn’t appear to be that many real SaaS models available – not in the true sense of what I believe it should truly represent. If you have any doubts, then use the checklists above or feel free to contact me at info@conjungo.com