Putting the “Service” in SaaS

By Kyriba August 4, 2014

In my two previous blogs about Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), I indicated that the second “S” – Service, is just as important as the first “S” – Software. As the acronym may suggest, both software and service combined are the basis of any SaaS solution.  

The first question to ask here is: what is service? Typically these include the traditional tasks and responsibilities that an organization’s IT department would undertake, such as:

  • Infrastructure ((hardware, network), and non-application software, (security software, operating system, database management, etc.)) management
  • Installation, upgrades, and deployment of software, including application software
  • Installation, upgrades, and deployment of hardware
  • Backup, archive, restore, and disaster recovery services
  • Ongoing infrastructure and software monitoring
  • Some level of help desk support for the application and associated infrastructure
  • Capacity planning

So, when an organization licenses a SaaS solution, they also benefit by outsourcing the traditional IT services to the SaaS vendor. Yes, benefit. Why? There are three major areas that an organization benefits by using a SaaS vendor as it relates specifically to these services. These are:

  • In-depth knowledge about the application. The vendors have a tremendous amount of knowledge, experience and insight into the application that is extremely hard to replicate for any IT department. The benefits are a bit hard to see, but typically show the benefits during application upgrades and deployments, and in support calls.
  • Scale. SaaS vendors perform these services for many clients and therefore can better scale their operations with a focus on the application. IT departments can offer some amount of scale but it’s across a variety of different on-premise applications for a small number of organizations (departments) compared to a SaaS vendor.
  • TCO. Because of the previous two points, a SaaS vendor can offer a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) than an on-premise provider.

The second question is: what is good service? That’s usually a tougher question, as it’s hard to describe, but you know it when it happens. However, almost every SaaS vendor provides a service level agreement (SLA) as a way to document their service and service levels. The SLA covers topics such as availability, serviceability, performance, operation, or other attributes of the service, such as billing, and may include priorities, responsibilities, guarantees, and warranties and acts as the common understanding between their customers and themselves. Typically each area of service has a “level of service” defined. These levels, in the form of metrics, are one easy way to assess good service. I suggest that organizations seriously considering SaaS solutions, should take a look at the vendors SLA and see if they meet your expectations, compare those against any internal IT formal or informal SLAs, as well as from other vendors as a way to assess if it’s good service.  And speaking of good service, hopefully these SaaS blogs have helped you.

I’d love to hear your opinion and feedback (now that’s good service!). 

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