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Software as a Service (SaaS); A growing Trend in Data Management

by Ike Ononogbu

January 24, 2011

We recently signed up to a CRM web-based application and so far it has proven to be a wise investment. Automating and simplifying some tasks previously carried out manually and more importantly we have had to avoid the drudgery of installing, configuring and subsequently maintaining the software. Our consultants can now log in from anywhere and use or input company-wide data without having to be at our office or logged into our machines. This is a pretty cool service.
Another significant occurrence, for me, that heralded the arrival of SaaS was when I had a need to share a 'live' document with a friend. As I was pondering how we could both access the document without having to save and send via email a former work-mate suggested we use a particular application on the cloud, this application allows for document-sharing on the 'cloud'.  Perfect!!


In The Beginning

Historically companies have been required to buy software, configure and deploy. This apparent shift in paradigm from client-server desktop applications to web-based or cloud computing has its merits and, as some sceptics would like to dwell on, its down-side.
If I were a manager in a company would I rather have a client-server installation or opt for the seemingly easier option of SaaS. Some thought-provoking questions need to be answered before an appropriate decision can be made.
Some of the questions would possibly be;
How safe is my data?
Am I looking at short-term or long-term costs?
If long term, will it be cost effective? Same question should be posed if short-term. 


Data Security

Back to what I would assume is the most important question companies looking to go the cloud route would ask, is my data safe? For all its ease-of-use and minimal, if not lack of, maintenance data security is key to making a decision whether to embark on this road. Managers will have at the back of their minds that their data will be stored in a data centre they have no control over and probably haven’t got a clue where it is located.
Where does governance lie if your data is stored in a data centre in Alaska?
Is the integrity of my data assured in the data centre?


SaaS 'Players'

Every technology shift has its fore bearers and followers. Salesforce, a CRM firm formed by an ex-Oracle executive and three software developers, leads the way in harnessing web-based capability. Others, notably Informatica – Data Integration software company, SAP -  provides Enterprise software applications, Oracle and IBM Cognos, have all followed suit and now offer on-demand services which are all cloud based.
Worth mentioning, Microsoft has just launched its CRM application, Dynamic CRM Online.
No one wants to be left behind and there is good reason not to.


Conclusion

While awaiting assurance that data held in data centres will be safe, another question pops up. Are the features in on-demand products as 'rich' as client-server editions?
Having said that and posed some questions, earlier on, we must not lose sight of the benefits of SaaS or cloud computing. The positives are all too obvious for one to see and it certainly has a big part to play in the technology arena, now and in future.

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