Software as a Service or SaaS has been confused with other software models such as “hosted” and “ASP”, but I believe that SaaS is fundamentally different and is a distinct evolution from prior incarnations of software deployment.
One of the fundamental differentiators of SaaS is the principle of “multitenancy”. What is multitenancy? Well, our good friend Wikipedia says, “With a multitenant architecture, a software application is designed to virtually partition its data and configuration so that each client organization works with a customized virtual application instance.” This is important because of the economies of scale that can be applied to the model. Because more people are able to use the same system, the resources necessary to manage and maintain and enhance the software are consolidated into a specialized group. As a result, the cost to maintain and enhance the solution is shared among all of the users.
Is SaaS really that different? Yes, it is. And it is providing a welcome alternative to the traditional software distribution model.
Do you have a story about how SaaS has made a different for you? Share it with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.