With the increase integration of the internet and world wide web into our daily lives through the use of smartphones and tablets there has been a shift in the way that companies offer their software products.
The traditional scenario of a business having to buy a copy of a piece of software with a software license and then having to install onto each machine that may be used to run it has begun to be replaced by the software as a service model (or SaaS for short). SaaS is where the software is available over the Internet from the could via a web browser or through an application on a smartphone or tablet.
SaaS enables a company to effectively rent a piece of software over the Internet for the number of users that they want to use the software rather than the machines that they will be run on, this means that if you have 10 members of staff they only have to buy a 10 users licenses and they are able to use the software wherever they want (pc, smartphone or tablet).
Also where updates of software used to be a problem for IT departments they no longer have to apply the update to each installation, it is done automatically by the SaaS provider so that everyone has the latest version of the software at the same time.
The upside of using software as a service is that you tend to only pay for the services that you need when you need them and can cancel or increase them when you dont.
The downside of course is that if you lose your internet connection the software may stop working, which could be disastrous if it happens at the wrong time (such as in the middle of an important meeting with a client).
Web Hosting. hosting your website in the cloud could potentially save you money in bandwidth costs as you will only have to pay for the amount of bandwidth that you actually use each month rather than having a fixed amount to use each month.
Data Backup and Cloud Storage. Data is the lifeblood of any business and being able to back your data up to a safe and secure offsite location could save you from the hassle and frustration of losing critical business data should you lose a device, suffer from a security attack or lose your server to hardware failure.
Video Collaboration. This allows you to have meeting with clients without having to travel to either your or your clients offices, you can also communicate more effectively with staff without them having to disrupt their daily work schedule too much
Document Management. The mainstay of any office environment is the documents and data that it produces and the biggest part of this is the Office Suite of software (Word processing, spreadsheets and presentations) that the company used, traditional these would be created on a members of staffs machine and then transferred to a central store on one of the companies servers. the big problem with this was that you never knew which was the latest version of the document or where it could be if someone had forgotten to upload it.
With the cloud computing and SaaS model these can now be offered over the internet (or from your own server if you prefer) and allows you staff to create documents in a central location rather than on their own machine. You can even set up permissions so that only those who should see the document can, in some cases you can even work on the same document together without too much trouble.