What is software as a service?

The launch in 1999 of Salesforce, a computer program for managing customer relations, marked the beginning of a new chapter in the history of software. Prior to the appearance of Salesforce, to run software on any given computer you typically had to first install the software on that particular machine. 

Salesforce was different because it did not require any such local installation. Instead, to use the program all a user had to do was connect to the internet then log in to Salesforce through a web browser.

This method of software delivery had never been seen before. It was called “software as a service” and the idea behind it, according Salesforce creator Marc Benioff, was to make enterprise software “as easy as buying a book on Amazon.”

Fast-forward 20 years and software as a service, or SaaS as it is now known, is commonplace.

Popular SaaS applications include:

This list represents just a fraction of the thousands of SaaS applications available today.More are on the way, with the SaaS market expected to be worth nearly $165 billion by the end of 2022, compared to a 2014 valuation of just under $24 billion, according to Transparency Market Research.

The growing popularity of SaaS is credited to the many advantages it holds over traditional, on-premises software installations, including that it can be deployed and scaled much more quickly.

What’s next for Saas?

Consultancy Gartner predicts that by 2020 all new entrants into the software market, and 80% of legacy vendors, will offer a SaaS product. In fact, many analysts predict the “as a service” tagline will eventually lose meaning and disappear because in future software will never be installed locally; all programs will be available online and online only.  

It appears then that the future of software will be for us to consume it as we consume basic utilities like electricity and water: on demand and scalable to infinity at the click of a button.

Does your business use SaaS or does it rely on traditional, on-premises infrastructure?

Could you cut costs and boost the agility of your company by using more SaaS tools?

 Visit Silicon Valley and meet the companies using Saas to achieve incredible results. Interact with the entrepreneurs, technologists and visionaries reimagining the future of software. Find out how to get the most out of Saas for your business and learn what’s up ahead for the SaaS industry.