Software as a Service (SaaS) Applications vs. Desktop Apps

Software as a Service

‘SaaS’ or Software as a Service has become a popular term these days. Most people know it also as “cloud” based software, and the concept is that a user saves their information on a server application instead of directly on their own computer. Normally, users have to log into a website where the software is located. It is centralized computing such that an entire business and potentially thousands of its employees will be “renting” online software instead of installing each of the programs on the computer units being used in the business.

SaaS usually comes at a price, either monthly or annually, and covers the costs of hosting, maintenance, development, and support. Or you can choose to develop your own SaaS programs to eliminate ongoing monthly fees. If you are considering whether to use traditional desktop apps or SaaS apps, understand that the technologies behind them are different and businesses should weigh the pros and cons of using one over the other. Desktop apps have to be installed on the computer units whereas SaaS apps can be accessed from any device as long as it has a browser. Installation is not required since all you need is to login and you can use the particular app. But this can be advantageous if you are not mobile, or if you are always on the go, and do not always have a stable Internet connection. Also, for desktop apps, you can easily access it since there is no need to log in before using the application.

For SaaS apps, upgrades of products are not necessary since users can expect that what they are using is the latest version of the software. However, this may also prove as a disadvantage, in case the user prefers to use the old version, for familiarity or other reasons, and this choice is not available to those who are using SaaS. It is also easier to know how a particular software is being used if it is a SaaS app as compared to a desktop software. For the latter, one may need to conduct a survey to get information about it, and the former you can review analytics and data to see exactly what pages are being accessed. Moreover, SaaS apps are easier to protect against piracy as opposed to desktop apps. Meanwhile with desktop apps, considering the fact that users don’t have to pass through a remote server when accessing an application, are more responsive compared to SaaS apps. In printing for instance, it is faster to print a document using a desktop app compared when printing using a SaaS app. Hosting costs are also lower since you only require minimal space for a desktop app and zero server fees. For a web app, the costs can be significant because of the large amounts of bandwidth that it requires. More importantly, for those who have privacy issues, desktop apps are preferred as there is no third party involved. As you can see, whether you choose one over the other will depend on your needs and requirements. Desktop apps may work well in a small business environment but for big businesses, they are generally using SaaS apps because of their advantages.

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