SaaS offers appealing advantages over traditional business software installation (traditional model), which requires you to create the server, install the program, and activate it. Instead, the apps are hosted on a distant cloud network, accessed through the web or an API, and function similarly to a rental. The company has permission to use it for a limited time and must pay for the software you use.
If you're just getting started with SaaS, this is the platform to discuss what it can do for you, how it differs from other types of software, ask questions about SaaS, design SaaS apps, and overcome development issues.
What is SaaS?
Software as a service (SaaS) means delivering applications as a service through the Internet. Instead of installation and maintenance software, you use the Internet to access it, eliminating the need for complicated software and device maintenance.
Web-based software, on-demand software, and hosted software are used to describe SaaS applications. SaaS apps, whatever their name, are hosted on the servers of a SaaS provider. The service provider is in charge of the application's privacy, reliability, and efficiency.
Check the solid advice from our SaaS development expert on how to overcome challenges with architecture, performance, quality assurance and more.
Top 5 Advantages of using SaaS
Here are the top 5 best benefits of using SaaS for your company project.
1. Reduced time to Benefit
Since the program (application) itself is already ready to work, Software as a Service (SaaS) varies from the traditional paradigm. You can easily create a server for a cloud instance, and the application will be ready to use in a matter of hours. This cuts down on the time it takes to install and configure Software and the problems that might arise.
2. Lower Costs
Because SaaS is typically delivered in a shared or multi-tenant environment, where hardware and software license costs are lower than in a conventional model, it can save money.
Another benefit is that you can quickly increase your client base since SaaS enables micro-enterprises to utilize Software they would not otherwise use due to expensive license costs.
Maintenance expenses are also lowered because the SaaS provider maintains the infrastructure and divides it among all clients that utilize the solution.
3. Scalability and Integration
SaaS solutions are often hosted in scalable cloud settings with connections to other SaaS services. You won't need to acquire a new server or Software like the old model. You merely need to activate a new SaaS product, and the SaaS provider will handle server capacity planning. You'll also have the ability to adjust your SaaS usage up and down based on your requirements.
4. New releases (upgrades)
When a provider uses SaaS, the solution is upgraded and made available to their consumers. Upgrades and new releases are less expensive and time-consuming than the old method, requiring you to purchase and install an upgrade package (or pay for specialized services to upgrade the environment).
5. Easy to use and perform proof-of-concepts
Because they already have baked-in best practices and samples, SaaS services are simple to utilize. Users can conduct proof-of-concept tests and test software functions or a new release feature ahead of time. You can also have many instances with various versions and seamless transfer. Even for big environments, SaaS products can test the Software before purchasing it.
Top 5 SaaS Development Challenges you need to know
SaaS projects are becoming more and more popular among businesses. CRM, ERP software, project management, email marketing, collaboration software, vertical applications, etc. Thanks to the experience I have gained working on SaaS projects, I have come up with the top 5 SaaS development challenges that are to be faced during the process no matter what kind of a SaaS solution you will go after:
1. Custom third-party payment integration
The payment functionality is an essential part of a SaaS product. Usually, it is achieved by integrating a system with a third-party payment service. The integration heads towards two ends: the easy way and the more demanding one. The easy is a payment service with great support for the integration. On the other end, the more challenging one is the more challenging, where the development team needs to examine the technical aspects and challenges behind payment integration and create the appropriate application parts such as services and facades to integrate the external payment service seamlessly.
The standard payment solutions already expose necessary libraries to integrate. Such services are PayPal, Secure Trading, QuickPay, Skrill or Braintree, which we implemented on many projects.
What is important is that a development team creates a set of automated and manual tests, to ensure the payment integration works properly.
2. Safe and well-defined database access that is GDPR compliant
With the GDPR restrictions taking over the world and standard tenants protection, secure database design is a necessary part of a successful SaaS product. On top of that, with projects for the American clients, there are specific systems (like for medical industries) that we need to take additional steps and apply the HIPAA constraints to the system that ensure that patients' data do not leak outside of the system boundaries. The GDPR or HIPAA requirements should be defined and implemented from the initial phase in the system.
During the system creation, the unit and integration tests need to be implemented to ensure data access restrictions. To have persisted data storage, we usually use PostgreSQL, MySQL, Elastic Search for visualization, analysis, and reliable searches, Neo4j and MongoDB for database management, and Redis - used as a database, message broker, and cache.
3. Guaranteeing zero-downtime deployment
A high priority is also put on the availability of the system. One of the drawbacks that we see from time to time, where the system might not be fully accessible to the user, is when a new system version is released. Here, a development team can tackle it using a zero-downtime deployment strategy. The strategy means that during the deployment process, the service is fully responsive and stays that way. In traditional systems, the application notifies the users about scheduled downtime.
The blue-green deployment strategy ensures nearly zero-downtime deployment, making the SaaS solutions reliable.
4. Managing SaaS subscription lifecycle
One of the ways to handle SaaS plans and subscriptions is to use a ready solution. Sometimes the solution can be already integrated with a payment service, like in the case of Stripe. Stripe has a straightforward approach for taking care of these two things along with payments, exposing its API to be used by the SaaS system. It is well documented and has examples, so developers feel quite comfortable using it. Still, it is feasible if a SaaS product owner decides to go with a build into the SaaS platform subscriptions and plans management. The good part of this approach is to have it in one place, not being dependent on the external provider, paying only once for developing this solution instead of paying monthly or yearly fees for taking care of this part in the external service.
The best way to manage subscription systems is to use pre-built ready-to-use solutions to plan for payments and subscription management. A SaaS subscription life cycle consists of subscribing, trailing, upgrading, canceling, resubscribing. Proper management of every part of this process is the key to a seamless integration of billing systems into SaaS.
5. Customizable system
Quite importantly, the system needs to be fully customizable, starting from the interface up to the underlying system layers. The customization always remains to be decided by our client or a product owner. We had cases where the need was to customize a subdomain, layout, colors, templates, and more for each tenant separately. Handling such requirements might be a demanding task, but if designed and tackled in a lean and agile manner can benefit the system in the longer run.
SaaS solutions bring a lot of business advantages like lowering production costs, faster development, great flexibility. It is getting attention from both vendors and consumers. It is estimated that by 2020 a quarter of organizations will be using SaaS as their core CRM systems. Due to the ease of development and reach capabilities, the future of SaaS looks bright, outpacing the traditional product delivery. A successful SaaS project means a customizable system with a safe, GDPR compliant database, zero-downtime deployment, fully integrated with third-party payment infrastructures.