David Coursey lists factors that characterises a good SaaS application and some of the benefits of SaaS more generally:
-The app provides functionality many businesses need, but isn’t terribly different from one company to the next.
-The service allows customization, but the SaaS model prevents clients from doing too much reinvention. This saves money and grief. It also encourages best practices.
-The service brings together information from several sources and presents it to the user in a friendly, web-based interface.
Hosted services are easier to get running, partially because of the limited customization potential but also because there’s no hardware to buy and no software to install.
-There’s also no software to manage, fix, upgrade, etc. All that is the responsibility of the vendor. Customers get a semi-custom application without having to hire developers and people to keep it running.
SaaS costs are predictable and typically usage-based.
-If the vendor doesn’t meet your needs, there usually is no long-term commitment and it’s easy to switch. This keeps SaaS vendors responsive.
-It's true that most hosted services use a single copy of their software to serve all their customers, providing only configuration options to do "customization."However, some hosted services, create a distinct copy of the system for each customer. This allows the system to be 100% customizable for each customer.Support for a hosted application or ASP is moe convenient, than in-house developed software. For many organizations it is more efficient to spend the time customizing the program than building from scratch. Leaves you with one place to blame. As we get more and more standard platforms, integrating a hosted software service with another should be come easier. For example mating payroll systems, HR systems and expense reports and time slips for service organizations. Of course the joining of CRM, help desk and technical support applications are also a logical progression.
-we shall see some joining of CRM application with web meeting platforms, to make it easy to send out login info, set up demos and webinars from one program. From here you can manage which prospects came from your webinar, virtual tradeshow and so on. Combining these platforms with the marketing program management would be a logical next step.
-The problem with any locally hosted data or software on the current OS platforms is that it greatly increases the complexity and cost to maintain the solution. Conflicts arise for each platform and between vendors software packages and security and privacy issues abound, all increasing costs ( which is why we have remotely hosted ASPs in the first place ). One solution is to use standardised virtualized plaform, which is where "Twelve Step TrustABLE IT" comes in...
-For the price of a modest server, hosting Virtualized Standard Based Linux, the enterprise could host many virtualised linux systems, each instance dedicated to and remotely maintained by the application service provider. Because each vendor's virtual server will be appear to be identical, the ASP vendor can effectively maintain thousands of remote servers.