The Benefits and Drawbacks of SaaS: The New Paradigm vs On-Premises Software
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Benefits and Drawbacks of SaaS and what it is like compared to on-premise software
SaaS has rapidly become the go-to software and computing solution for businesses and industries across the world. While it’s costly to develop and deploy servers and infrastructure for your business out of pocket, you will be glad to hear that software-as-a-service seems to be a more affordable and more scalable solution for just about everyone. What are the benefits and drawbacks of SaaS?
Although SaaS offers a lot of advantages over other kinds of cloud software, on-premises software and systems are still favored by some companies. Let’s take a look at the two computing strategies and try to determine which is better overall.
SaaS vs On-Premises: Setup Considerations and Functionality
Let’s get some basic definitions out of the way. On-premises (or on-prem/on-site) software or systems can be accessed and modified directly from computers or servers that are owned and operated by a business, and which are also located on the business’s premises.
Meanwhile, SaaS-based systems rely on off-site computing centers for clients. Users can connect remotely to a SaaS center, which is how they are able to access different programs and services they can use for their business or security needs.
There are obvious differences right off the bat. In general, companies often have on-premises systems or networks installed over time, especially if they started small. Furthermore, building an on-premises system or security network is often more ideal when your business has evolved or grown since you can gradually make sure all the computers in the network run with the same programs or use the same, in-house software.
However, on-premises systems and networks are usually quite expensive in terms of investment capital, especially when you consider installation and deployment. Ongoing costs and maintenance are also something to consider.
On the flip side, SaaS systems and security can be deployed securely, remotely, and much more quickly. Since all the cloud computing takes place on servers located away from a business, it’s often more flexible and can more easily scale with a growing business without requiring the purchasing of additional infrastructure on the part of the business in question.
Furthermore, SaaS systems are often more affordable than purchasing and deploying infrastructure or systems outright, especially for newer companies. That’s why many companies are shifting to SaaS infrastructure and connectivity over time.
The Benefits of SaaS
For SaaS, companies benefit from:
- More computing flexibility. Computing resources can be allocated or withdrawn as necessary, meaning scaling up computing power requirements due to a sudden business boom is a lot easier. This is because SaaS-based cloud systems are designed to be installed and accessed remotely, so you do not need to worry about whether you have enough hard drive space or if your computer has enough power.
- Easier remote access. SaaS companies or operators are responsible for the security and rigor of a network’s defenses. Thus, employees of a client company can easily access programs or databases from anywhere they have access to the Internet. This is excellent for more mobile companies or companies with mobile workforces.
- Cheaper operating costs. Most SaaS agreements have companies pay periodic fees for access to the cloud computing servers and software, which are cheaper than buying servers/software and installing them yourself.
- Costs for backup and data recovery are also cheaper. As your company gets larger and you take on more customers and their sensitive information, you’ll be able to store that information on cloud servers with sophisticated backup and recovery tech built-in from the start.
The Benefits of On-Premises Systems
On-premises systems and networks have their own advantages that make them attractive choices. These include:
- Total control and customization. Companies that spend the time and money to develop and deploy their own digital infrastructure will enjoy complete customization over that infrastructure. All the server space and computing power you purchase will be used by you alone, not shared with others.
- Easier access to hardware for upgrades/repairs. Though risk is severely educated thanks to the shared nature of networks, it’s not foolproof. With on-premises systems, you have access to all your servers and infrastructure and can repair damage/glitches or make hardware upgrades quickly.
- In-house software deployment. For some industries, in-house software or solutions are required to provide customers and clients with the services they need. With on-premises systems, you’ll be able to deploy this software without running through legal red tape, and not have to rely on one-size-fits-all software
Which is More Secure: SaaS or On-Premises?
But arguably the biggest question to consider when deciding between SaaS systems or on-premises systems is security, especially given the risky digital environment of today. The fact is that cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated and difficult to detect with each passing year.
Companies must increasingly enhance their security and defensive techniques in their SaaS software to both avoid intrusions that can harm themselves and to protect sensitive customer data or prevent it from being leaked onto the wider web.
As mentioned, on-premises systems allow you total control over the assets in question. An on-site IT team can control any programs that are installed and determine who has access to databases at any given time. Plus, a rapid response to a potential security threat (say, an employee’s password being left on a coffee shop table) can be implemented immediately across the board.
With an on-premises system, you’ll also be able to thoroughly monitor your servers and other infrastructure 24/7. The limit, of course, is money – it takes cash to hire a security team and keep constant vigilance over your servers and infrastructure. Larger companies, therefore, may be able to provide better on-premises security than smaller businesses.
On the other hand, SaaS systems offer remote security, which is also tied to all the client servers in a network. Again, this helps to distribute threats across the network, and the nature of the cloud allows for rapid deployment of security measures or shutdowns and backups at the first sign of a threat.
That being said, there are measures that can help make your SaaS systems even more secure than they already are. First and foremost, it’s worth investing in enterprise-level virtual private networks (VPNs), which give secure remote access to the internal network that houses the SaaS tools for your company. This will also help ensure that only fully authorized users are able to access the network, and any cyber criminals outside of the network will have a
Furthermore, cloud or SaaS systems can deploy security upgrades that come out for the entire industry a little more quickly than a company can do the same for their on-premises servers.
After considering the benefits and drawbacks of SaaS, you may wonder which is better? It ultimately depends on your philosophy and budget. SaaS security is almost always cheaper, but it doesn’t afford the same peace of mind and total control that on-premises systems do. Protecting your on-premises systems with top-tier monitoring software can arguably offer you better overall security compared to leaving it in the hands of remote workers thousands of miles away.
In the end, despite the benefits and drawbacks of SaaS and on-premises servers both have a place in today’s modern business and network security environments, and both will likely continue to be favored by certain types of businesses over others.
For now, SaaS systems and security are often a better choice for companies low on IT professionals and money. On-premises servers might be a better choice if you aren’t concerned with scalability and have the budget and professionals to spare to take matters into your own, capable hands.
Sam Bocetta is a former security analyst for the Department of Defense and current freelance journalist specializing in writing about cybersecurity, technology, and cryptography. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling around the United States in his RV with his wife and fly fishing out in the woods.
Sam Bocetta es un antiguo analista de seguridad del Departamento de Defensa y actual periodista independiente especializado en escribir sobre seguridad cibernética, tecnología y criptografía. En su tiempo libre, disfruta viajando por los Estados Unidos en su RV con su esposa y pescando con mosca en el bosque.