July 25, 2013

Counterpoint: Four Drawbacks of Software as a Service

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Earlier this week we discussed the basics of ‘Software as a Service’ and listed four advantages it provides. While the article offered some extremely compelling ideas, it is important to perform complete research before making any big technology decisions. Under the right conditions, SaaS can greatly enhance your workforce. However, under the wrong conditions, SaaS can be inconvenient and extremely costly. Knowing the drawbacks and risks of SaaS will help you make the best decision for your company.

Security: For many businesses, the biggest concern of SaaS is security. With conventional software, data is stored locally. With SaaS however, your data may be stored offsite by the vendor. As a result, you rely on the vendor to properly secure and backup your data. Before implementing SaaS for sensitive information, it is essential that you fully research the data security measures the vendor uses. With conventional software and local hosting it is possible for access to be exclusive to the inside of your company’s walls. With SaaS however, data can be vulnerable because employees may be accessing it on unsecure outside connections. It is also essential that you know the backup and restore procedure the vendor uses. If the software is essential for the success of your business, then days or weeks of data restoration could prove disastrous.

Dependency: Although most SaaS vendors promise fantastic reliability, there is still a risk of outages. Consequently, it is important to research the reliability of a vendor before moving important programs and data to SaaS. Furthermore, your company must decide if it can handle outages. In the case of a vendor outage, you are left helpless until they can fix the issue. Consider some financial software where a vendor outage could mean late payments or missed business.

Accessibility: Although SaaS accessibility can be a benefit, it can also act as a major drawback. Internet accessibility of your software and data provides mobility and convenience,  but it can be troublesome if a connection is unavailable. Internet connectivity problems within your office could mean wasted time and resources. There is also a potential issue of latency. Some vendors store data in extremely remote locations which could add to transaction time. For some services, a few milliseconds of signal delay could be costly. Also, traveling employees are at mercy of their surroundings and could wind up unable to access important information.

Limited availability: Although SaaS is growing; there is a limit to the amount of available options because many applications have yet to develop SaaS versions. Another issue is that some SaaS versions lack the full power and capabilities of their conventional counterpart. Before purchasing a software subscription, it is worth researching if the capabilities you need are present.

Although SaaS can lead to incredible gains for your business, it is essential to consider the risks and drawbacks. By assessing advantages and disadvantages within the context of your company’s needs, you will be better able to make properly informed software decisions.

Have any experience with SaaS drawbacks? Help our community by sharing them in the comments below!