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Software as a Service (Saas)

Software as a Service (SaaS) is a method for delivering software applications over the Internet, on demand and typically on a subscription basis. With SaaS, Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) host and manage the application software and underlying infrastructure, and handle any maintenance, like software upgrades and security patching. Users connect to the application over the Internet, usually by a web browser on their phone, tablet, or PC.

SaaS Model

SaaS model

Software as a service (SaaS) allows users to connect to and use cloud-based applications over the Internet. Common examples are email, calendaring, and office tools.

SaaS provides a complete software solution that you purchase on a pay-as-you-go basis from a Cloud Service Provider (CSP). You rent the use of an application for your organization, and your users connect to it over the Internet, usually with a web browser. All of the underlying infrastructure, middleware, application software, and application data are located in the CSP's data center. The service provider manages the hardware and software, and with the appropriate Service Level Agreement (SLAs), will ensure the availability and the security of the application and your data as well. SaaS allows your organization to get quickly up and running with an applications at minimal upfront cost.

If you've used a web-based email services such as Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo! Mail, then you've already used a form of SaaS. With these commercial services, you log into your account over the Internet, often from a web browser. The email software is located on the service provider's network, and your messages are stored there as well. You can access your email and stored messages from a web browser using any computer or Internet-connected device.

The previous examples are free commercial services for personal use. For organizational use, you can rent productivity applications, such as email, collaboration, and calendaring; and sophisticated business applications such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), and document management. You pay for the use of these applications by subscription or according to the level of use.

SaaS Advantages

  • Gain access to sophisticated applications ~ To provide SaaS applications to users, you don’t need to purchase, install, update, or maintain any hardware, middleware, or software. SaaS makes even sophisticated enterprise applications, such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), affordable for organizations that lack the resources to buy, deploy, and manage the required infrastructure and software themselves.
  • Pay only for what you use ~ You may also save money because many SaaS services allow you to adjust the number of SaaS seats billed up and down on a monthly basis.
  • Client software not required ~ Users can run most SaaS apps directly from their web browser without needing to download and install any software, although some applications require plugins. This means that you don’t need to purchase and install special software for your users.
  • Mobilize your workforce easily ~ SaaS makes it easy to “mobilize” your workforce because users can access SaaS applications and data from any Internet-connected computer or mobile device. You don’t need to worry about developing applications to run on different types of computers and devices because the service provider has already done so. In addition, you don’t need to bring special expertise onboard to manage the security issues inherent in mobile computing. A carefully chosen SaaS provider will ensure the security of your data, regardless of the type of device consuming it.
  • Access app data from anywhere ~ With data stored in the cloud, users can access their information from any Internet-connected computer or mobile device. And when application data is stored in the cloud, no data is lost if a user’s computer or device fails.

SaaS Providers

FedRAMP Authorized SaaS Providers

For detailed commercial service descriptions, to compare vendors or to see additional providers that are In Process/FedRAMP Ready, please visit the: