Software as a service (SaaS) is a way of delivering applications over the internet, as a service. Instead of installing and maintaining software, you simply access it via the Internet, freeing yourself from complex software and hardware management. SaaS applications are sometimes called Web-based software, on-demand software, or hosted software. Whatever the name, SaaS applications run on a SaaS provider’s servers. The provider manages access to the application, including security, availability, and performance.
A simple example of SaaS is the “free” email (also called web-based email) systems offered on the Internet such as Microsoft Hotmail, G-mail and Yahoo Mail. Each program meets the basic criteria of an SaaS application: a vendor (Microsoft, Google or Yahoo) hosts all of the programs, servers, and data in a central location and provides end users access to this data and the software which is run and used over the internet.
SaaS customers have no hardware or software to buy, install, maintain, or update. Access to applications is easy: You just need an Internet connection.
Benefits of the SaaS model include:
# Easier administration
# Automatic updates and patch management
# Compatibility: All users will have the same version of software.
# Easier collaboration, for the same reason
# Global accessibility
So what does all this mean? You don’t need heavy duty hardware, lots of memory, and tera bytes of storage. It also means you have hardware independence, in other words it can run on a PC, MAC, Linux, or even a smart phone.