Software distribution over the Internet is termed as Software as a Service or SaaS. Vendors of SaaS host software applications at their data centers and deliver these to clients. Clients are able to access software via standard web browsers.
Highlights of SaaS model
The most striking advantage of SaaS is the clients need not install any hardware locally or need not maintain the software applications at their end. We can list vital attributes of SaaS model.
SaaS model provides a multitenant environment by offering a common source code to be shared among multiple users and applications. It is maintained in a single central location. End users need not worry about updates and security patches since these are automatically applied by service provider.
SaaS significantly enhances data accessibility via internet so that privileges and monitoring of data usage can handled effectively for individual accounts.
Applications are maintained centrally and can be customized to match clients’ business needs. An important aspect of customization offered by SaaS is that a single application can be tailor made to suit needs of different users.
Vital steps for proper implementation of SaaS
SaaS can be delivered by using different technologies and models. One should properly review and understand the unique requirements of business irrespective of technology or model. In order to develop a bespoke application for a particular business process, one should have clarity of understanding business goals and objectives at initial stages of application development.
Establishing characteristics of application
Application development must begin by identification of goals and setting directives by implementing investigation process. This can be performed by determining answers to the following questions:
• What is the process that is designed to run the application
• What type of user categories are going be catered to by application
• What are the provisions for imparting scalability, security, to application and how the application is going to handle failover issues
In depth understanding of attributes of the proposed application and proper study of challenges and issues being faced by existing system, process or the application in initial stages of development is a must.
Constituting the right team
Identification of task force for development of proposed software application should be done by selecting individuals who are matured enough to understand concepts and technologies. Ideally, the team members should have gained expertise in multiple technologies and should be conversant about industry’s best practices.
Attributes of infrastructure
Having understood various business aspects and objectives of the application to be developed, we should move ahead by designing a stable, well connected and scalable infrastructure. Infrastructure should consist of state of the art data center with robust networking architecture. It should also be supported with sophisticated backup and monitoring tools and enterprise grade system as well as storage hardware.
In addition to these factors, an ideal infrastructure should be optimized for costs and must be backed by well defined SLAs. We should also take into account other performance factors such as network bandwidth and uptime guarantees. Infrastructure for application development should be supported by robust data recovery services and security measures.
Bandwidth and hosting considerations
Hosting facility for application development infrastructure should have seamless public connectivity. Industry lading telecom providers are known to offer consistent and reliable services. Selection of location of hosting facility should aim at reducing network hops between the infrastructure and end user.
Having multiple network connection to data center facility is advisable to reduce chances of bottlenecks. Bandwidth should be reviewed by understanding demography of location because bandwidth network speed differs from location to location. Data center connectivity is also governed by system redundancy to handle power outages and hardware failure and testing frequency.
Performance of applications and other testing conditions can be significantly enhanced by using components of optimum quality. Infrastructure components should have well established functionality and reliability. Use of enterprise grade components is critical for assured availability of applications.
Disaster recovery and business continuity plans
There should be a concrete disaster recovery plan in place to guarantee availability of application. Our ability to respond quickly to any disaster situation by restoring operations of application within a defined time period will directly impact business availability.
Comprehensive monitoring solution
There is no substitute to an effective subsystem for monitoring for assuring timely intervention and to avert possible disasters. Monitoring system must take into consideration OS and application event logs, memory and CPU consumption, and performance of application components including database, TCP layer, application servers.
Once the application has hit the market, we must ensure that it is constantly backed by a responsive resource of customer support. In order to achieve this, there should be a well managed ticketing system that is seamlessly connected to a call center. Whatever model or technology one uses, a robust and seamlessly available customer support is essential parameter for success of any application. Many applications are backed by emailing system that is enabled by customer support and capable of forwarding support emails to relevant members of support team.
SLAs and documentation
Service Level Agreements pertaining to software applications should be able to clearly define the scope, turnaround time, application availability and response time.
One of the most important steps in the development of software application is robust documentation. The documentation must consist of every aspect of infrastructure and components. It will provide basis for any types of alterations or modifications required to be implemented. Documentation also facilitates users to manage any unexpected behavior of the application.