Everything You Need to Know About Software as a Service (SaaS)
When selecting a C/ETRM solution for an organization, technical language barriers and a multitude of options often lead executives to assign the selection responsibility to their IT department. This often results in a selection that fails to take in to consideration the needs and desires of the majority of the system’s users. In this article, Pioneer Solutions explains Software as a Service, SaaS, in order to help non-technical individuals understand more about C/ETRM software and ultimately, help guide them in selecting a system that more closely mirrors the needs of their organization.
What is SaaS?
SaaS stands for “Software as a Service.” It is a software licensing and delivery model in which a vendor’s software is hosted offsite for the client. Unlike traditional server-based packaged applications, these software offerings are accessed over the Internet and owned by the software vendor that often runs or hosts the applications in a data center or through a hosting service. Most often, the customer does not own the software but, instead, essentially “rents” it for a monthly or yearly subscription fee. SaaS software is referred to in several different ways: hosted software, Application Service Provider (ASP) solution and “On-Demand” software.
The Difference Between SaaS and ASP
SaaS and ASP offerings appear similar at a quick glance, but there are several key differences between these two options.
Upgrades and Updating
SaaS offerings are often viewed as superior to traditional ASP hosting because of the fact that multiple tenants can be managed from a single code base. This means that the SaaS software will have timely access to the latest product changes, enhancements, maintenance adjustments and updates. ASP offerings require that providers individually update each clients’ software, resulting in higher costs and more time consumption—two resources that organizations already find in short supply. Consequently, ASP updates are often delayed for long periods of time.
Another distinction between SaaS and ASP offerings is the fact that SaaS products offer full database mirroring across two separate locations, which allows for application-server redundancy and constant monitoring (24×7) to prevent system downtime. In order to come close to these same capabilities, ASP providers would need two servers for each client—a requirement that’s rarely met because of its exceptionally high cost.
Perhaps the biggest differentiation between SaaS and ASP offerings is how they are designed to interact with the web. While ASP products are merely refitted and altered for the web, SaaS products are designed specifically for it. This means that SaaS offerings are able to take full advantage of the most up-to-date web capabilities while ASP products are not.
Ultimately, while traditional ASP models are geared more towards meeting the specific needs of an organization, they come nowhere close to offering the web capabilities, data integrity and inexpensive access to maintenance, updates and enhancements offered by SaaS products. Fortunately, thanks to an evolved species of SaaS solutions, businesses are no longer forced to choose between a system that is customized to their specific organizational needs (the upside of ASP offerings) and the benefits offered by SaaS products.
The Next Generation SaaS Solution
Offering an ideal SaaS solution to organizations with unique business models and processes requires:
- Solid, Leading-Edge Hosting Technologies
- Exceptional Customer Service
- A Rapid Implementation and Delivery Approach
- Easy of Configurability
- Customized Software Tailored to Meet Unique Business Needs
These features are offered by newer SaaS products that are both formula-based and template-driven. This type of architecture is flexible and malleable, which is extremely important for rapidly conforming to unique business models. For instance, distinct book structures and specialized reporting requirements can be altered effortlessly to mirror the specific needs of the SaaS client.
Template-driven software solutions require no coding expertise and are designed to empower the business user with the ability to actually manage changes. This type of flexibility also extends the life of this software solution because of its ability to easily evolve with the company and shifts in the industry. One benefit of this next generation SaaS solution is the capability for templates to incorporate user-defined fields (UDFs)—easily allowing workflow automation and the straight-through processing (STP) of information throughout an entire organization. The following diagram outlines important software features organizations should look for in a SaaS offering:
TRMTracker: Next Generation SaaS Software
Voted “Preferred C/ETRM System” by our clients and peers, Pioneer Solutions’ TRMTracker is offered as either a SaaS or server-based solution. It’s an organically built, all web-based, fully integrated, comprehensive (front, middle and back office) solution that supports the real-time capture and processing of all commodity types—both physical and financial.
Pioneer Solutions is a global provider of next generation CTRM, ETRM, environmental management and financial and regulatory compliance solutions. Offering the latest in business processing capabilities with a modern data structure, Pioneer’s products offer the user a configurable environment that allows for customizable templates for STP workflow and user-defined custom formula entry. Serving some of the largest utilities and energy companies across the globe, Pioneer’s flexible solutions are designed for rapid deployment and easily adapt to clients’ unique business processes, model complex trading scenarios and automate business processes.