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What is SaaS Architecture?

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  • Written By: A. Leverkuhn
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 18 September 2016
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SaaS architecture refers to a specific kind of Information Technology (IT) setup for Storage as a Service (SaaS). SaaS is a name for software products that vendors sell, not out of a box, but over telecom lines. SaaS software is run from the vendor’s server or provided in a similar manner.

With SaaS products, clients don’t have to receive discs containing the software program. They don’t have to take the time to install and register programs. Instead, they simply purchase access to the vendor’s server for a specific length of time. Customers typically receive a logon and a set of access and security protocols from the vendor for a specific SaaS fee.

When IT managers talk about an SaaS architecture, they are thinking about how Software as a Service programs are deployed and set up within a business IT structure. Another related term is Service Oriented Architecture or SOA. A Service Oriented Architecture includes software as a service and other elements of a business software system. The idea to is streamline how all of the various software programs in business operations are set up. Leaders look at how different software programs “talk to each other,” and how well they are set up for either local or remote use.

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There are also some common factors in SaaS architecture and other SOA issues. One is the idea of single or multiple tenancy, where vendors offer different ways of customizing programs for a particular client. In some cases, multiple customers or ‘tenants’ share the base level of service from the common server-run software products. In other situations, programs are specifically customized and portioned out for clients according to their needs.

Software as a service architecture is important for most businesses because inefficient linking of software programs leads to greater cost and less flexibility for growth. Businesses that have a better SaaS architecture, or SOA, can profit from better customer service, more remote access for workers on the go, and a lot of other very useful tools for doing business more efficiently.

IT consulting shops often offer specialized services for helping a business to develop an SaaS architecture. This includes making sure systems are set up for the best and most efficient IT operations, and that cost is factored into the design. Consultants can also help a company develop as the ‘business partner’ of an IT provider, where brand loyalty may be a key to additional savings or client perks.

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allenJo
Post 4

@miriam98 - I’d like to point out that if you really want to convert your application to one that is SAAS compatible, then you will need to rewrite it. You will want to convert the application into separate modules that perform various functions rather than have one piece that does everything.

At our company we have begun building these things called web services, web-based mini apps that focus on performing one task. We’re not porting to the cloud yet, but are hosting some functions that can be accessed remotely and web services allow us to do that.

If we get serious about a total port to the cloud, we’ll probably construct a SAAS architecture diagram that will display the different “engines” of the application and what functions they perform.

miriam98
Post 3

@nony - Liability would only be a concern if you hosted the applications yourself. That’s not really what the cloud is about. It’s about allowing a major corporation like Microsoft or someone else to host your apps. In that case, they assume the liability.

I am sure that there would be some contracts to the effect that if data gets lost you cannot be held liable but Microsoft or other SAAS vendors would be liable-and I think in this case, these companies have deep pockets and can take the hit.

I also want to clarify that cloud computing, in the strictest sense of the term, isn’t just about hooking up with desktops or laptops. We already can do that. It’s about using any smart device, like a smart phone or a tablet PC or whatever-to hook up to the network. All of these independent devices can be part of the cloud.

nony
Post 2

@Charred - Yeah, nowadays the buzz word is SAAS cloud computing, which basically describes the scenario you envision. The idea is that more can be done in the “cloud”-a series of hosted servers offering the potential for distributed processing-than can be done with individual workstations.

The major benefit of the cloud is that it creates continual backups of company data. You can certainly do this with desktop applications, but that responsibility rests on the user not on the vendor.

Of course, I would hope that the vendor realizes that they can incur potential liabilities if their servers can get fried. Hopefully they have redundant backups to cover themselves. That should be a major consideration before going down this path.

We have also flirted with the idea of cloud computing but right now those liability concerns are a bit of a stumbling block.

Charred
Post 1

At our company we’ve been flirting with the software as a service concept for quite some time now. The idea is to make our flagship product entirely server based, so that companies can log on and use the software without having to install it on their separate machines.

The advantage of this SOA architecture is that data can stay in sync at all times. You see, our software is a multi-user application. When a company buys our product they usually have field technicians who use, it in addition to the database administrator. The field technicians use a separate module installed on their laptops while the administrator is responsible for uploading field data into the main application.

With a SAAS model, the techs and the admin will upload everything in one location, and the server will keep everything in sync. That’s the idea anyway.

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