Software as a service (SaaS)

What is Software as a Service (SaaS)?

Software as a service (SaaS) are applications that are run from a network or cloud instead of being installed on a local computer.

Why is SaaS popular?

SaaS is any application that is hosted and run from a network. Beyond a web browser and operating system, the user does not install anything on their computer. SaaS allows the developer to seamlessly update the application on a continuous basis without the need for user-installed updates.

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Which applications use SaaS?

Whether it’s for checking emails, office tools like word processing, customer relationship management or project coordination, the SaaS model enjoys increasingly wide adoption in both enterprise and personal computing. While some applications have migrated to SaaS (like Microsoft Outlook), others (such as Salesforce) have been cloud-based since their inception.

What are the advantages of SaaS?

While there are many significant advantages to the SaaS model, some of the biggest benefits are compatibility, efficiency and cost.

Compatibility is likely one of the most crucial advantages to running SaaS applications. With literally thousands of hardware configurations in use today, they all share the ability to run a standard browser like Google Chrome. This eliminates the need for developers to ensure compatibility with each individual chipset or operating system version. 

This same advantage saves both developers and IT professionals a significant amount of time and money. With application updates done seamlessly on the server side, there is literally nothing for a business or institution to update. As long as the user is using a compatible environment, the software will run as expected. This also saves the time and expense of maintaining local copies or purchasing updates.

SaaS vs the Cloud

Cloud-based software and SaaS are terms that are often used interchangeably; however, there are a few differences between the two.

While SaaS is certainly run from the cloud, cloud-based software like Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure allow users to customise and manage their applications, whereas software like Salesforce or Slack do not. SaaS users pay subscription fees for ongoing updates and maintenance of the software, whereas cloud-based software generally requires the users to perform these on their own.

The other key difference between SaaS and cloud software is in how they are licensed. SaaS applications are effectively a lease to run the software from the vendor’s server. And while that could technically be defined as running “from the cloud”, cloud software is not dependent on location. Cloud computing is for developers and IT departments, not necessarily people simply running an application.

How is SaaS used?


One of the more ubiquitous applications is productivity. For example, Microsoft’s Office suite, one of the longest-running and most popular software packages, is available as a SaaS subscription as Office 365. Users can access their email, presentations, spreadsheets and word documents from any computer or mobile device. Google Docs, Slides and Sheets as well as their popular Gmail suite is another example of online productivity being delivered as a service.

Project management

Applications like Zoom, Slack, Box and Microsoft Teams also have a tremendous userbase, providing team collaboration and file-sharing tools that enable groups spanning the globe to work as if they are together in a central location. The ability to share comments and questions, provide updates and manage products collaboratively enables speed and efficiency.


Salesforce, considered to be one of the first SaaS applications, is a great tool for customer relationship management (CRM), market automation and analytics. Case, task and issue management are simplified and can be tracked from end to end.

Specialised applications

The list of modern SaaS applications is vast, including tools for media production like Lumen5, financial and accounting software like NetSuite, and document/signature verification like DocuSign. As the SaaS model continues to grow in popularity and usage, it’s not hard to imagine a day when virtually all computing tasks will be accessed this way.

HPE and SaaS

HPE has been leading the charge for enterprise-level SaaS applications in modern computing. In 2017, HPE released OneSphere, designed for IT operations, developers and executives seeking to build and manage multi-cloud environments.

Another SaaS solution from HPE is InfoSight, an AI-assisted solution for managing infrastructure performance and ensuring uptime. HPE InfoSight’s predictive analytics system predicts, prevents and solves infrastructure problems while freeing enterprises from the headaches of vendor support.

As HPE continues to invest in migrating organisations entirely to the cloud, there will be a focus on delivering SaaS solutions that power business and education forward. HPE’s promise to deliver everything “as a service” by 2022 is just one example of its commitment to provide the best in hardware solutions and cloud-based software.