Software as a service supplied by ISVs or Application-Service-Providers (ASPs) is a software delivery model in which software and associated data are centrally hosted on the cloud. SaaS is typically accessed by users using a thin client via a web browser.
Software as a Service removes the need for organizations to handle the installation, set-up and often daily upkeep and maintenance. It describes a storage model where a business or organization (the client) rents or leases storage space from a third-party provider.
Data is transferred from the client to the service provider via the Internet and the client would then access their stored data using software provided by the storage provider. The software is used to perform common tasks related to storage, such as data backups and data transfers.
The easiest way to understand as-a-service offerings is to start with SaaS, the most abstract layer and the one you may already be using today, even at a personal level. A simple example of SaaS is an online email service, like Gmail. If you use Gmail, you are not hosting your own email server. Google is hosting it, and you are simply accessing it through your browser-as-client. But email is just one application that your company uses, and today there are applications online for many business purposes.
SaaS allows a business the potential to reduce IT operational costs by outsourcing hardware and software maintenance and support to the cloud provider. SaaS applications are designed for end-users, delivered over the web.
Examples of SaaS include: Google Apps, Microsoft Office 365, Petrosoft, Onlive, GT Nexus, Hewlett-Packard enterprise software SaaS, Marketo, Casengo, TradeCard, Rally Software, Salesforce, ExactTarget and CallidusCloud.
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