You may have noticed a shift in the way software is delivered these days. In the past, you would purchase a disc at a store, install the program from that disc, and then end up purchasing the updated version the next year. Software companies have figured out that instead of making customers pay for the upgraded program every year, they would offer a subscription. You pay a monthly or annual fee, and the upgrades are technically free. This ensures you always have the latest version, and takes the guesswork out of your software purchases.
Other industries are noticing the success software companies are having with this business model and are starting their own subscription services. As technology advances so quickly, people are no longer content with purchasing hardware or software that will become outdated within a year. One of the characteristics of these services is the low barriers to entry, where there is not a ton of upfront costs associated with the product or technology. This makes it ideal for small businesses and consumers. Although the upfront cost is minimal, it usually offers great scalability too. You can start out with a smaller subscription and as you grow you can upgrade to a higher level plan or product. Lastly, it usually allows you to use the service from wherever you are. The beauty of cloud services is that you are able to work from anywhere that has an internet connection, just as you were sitting right in your office.
To help you navigate this new world of everything as a service, we’ll run down the most common services you will run into.
As we just mentioned Software-as-a-Service was pretty much the first player in this ball game and is still the most popular. Products like Microsoft Office, Adobe’s Creative Suite, and countless others have shifted their business model to SaaS. It definitely makes a lot of sense in this situation, as has always been the case with software, when you buy it, you aren’t actually purchasing the software. You are purchasing a license to use the software. This reality definitely lends itself more to a subscription service, where you are just paying for the ability to use the software.
Technology moves so rapidly. When you purchase the latest and greatest computers for your company, and 2 months later the hardware is out of date, it is frustrating. Imagine the large-scale frustration felt by business owners when they purchase devices for all of their employees. Hardware manufacturers like Dell and HP are starting to offer Hardware as a Service options now. As a business owner, you can purchase a subscription, and never have to worry about the management and maintenance of the hardware within your company.
Much like its hardware counterpart, Desktop as a Service aims to help business owners with the cost of expensive devices. In this scenario, you are not purchasing a subscription to the actual hardware, your subscription is the ability to access a fully functional desktop that is in the cloud. Since all of the processing power, space and memory come from the cloud device, the machine used to access it can have minimal specifications. Thin clients (hardware devices that only have very limited functionality) can be deployed to the employees, and they can still be extremely productive from the cloud desktop.
Many small business owners are opting to utilize cloud services for many critical business functions like email and file storage. This shift has made having a local server unnecessary in many instances. Infrastructure as a Service allows businesses to move the functions that would normally take place on a local server, into the cloud as well. Companies are loving the ability to work as if they are right at their office, from anywhere in the world, without dealing with VPN connections to the office network.
While there are more “as a service” models, these are the ones currently gaining traction in today’s business world. As their success continues, we are sure that more businesses will figure out how to make the model work for them as well.