SaaS(Software as a Service) is a well-known acronym for "Software provided from the Cloud, i.e. from centralized public resources, through the Internet”. Real or Cloud-native or Cloud-first specify a software designed from the ground to leverage the full potential of modern cloud computing platforms in order to provide high quality services even to millions of users simultaneously. Among various features, this new software generation is "extrovert" that is designed for easy integration with other services for usage both internally and externally to the company.
SoSaaS (Same oldSoftware as a Service) stands for traditional software (Centralized or Client / Server) hosted in private or public DataCenter and no longer sold by perpetual license + maintenance but an all-inclusive periodic fee. This traditional software generation is, in some way, "introvert" because it looks more inside the company than outside. Even if "adapted" to the Internet it cannot provide continuous and effective services to a large number of users for architectural reasons. This “SaaS” proposition is essentially a makeup to take advantage of the growing Cloud popularity.
What are the main differences?
From the user's point of view, it is not easy to tell the difference between a Real SaaS and a SoSaaS, a bit 'like watching a car is not easy to appreciate what will be the driving experience, performance and reliability. However, you can get a better idea knowing the engine technology and characteristics. The following are the Real SaaS main features, in fact primarily related to the "engine" in the Cloud.
Wide accessibility through standard APIs. This is the second of the five essential characteristics of cloud computing according to NIST and the one that, for example, facilitates a stores chain to be Omni-channel, exhibiting consistent user-experience and data through eCommerce, through physical stores Kiosks, Points of Sale and Apps on customers SmartPhones through standard APIs (Application Programming Interface). Designing an information system based on "native SaaS Cloud" looks like assembling "Lego" blocks, for an agile and "extrovert" IT. The emergence of an ecosystem of ready-to-use and interoperable Cloud services is vital in an era of rapid change such as we are experiencing, in which customers have long been in the Cloud with their SmartPhones. In comparison, SoSaaS are big black boxes.
Sharing of hardware and software resources, also called multi-tenancy, is the third essential feature of Cloud Computing. This means designing the software that can simultaneously serve from shared resources, many different chains, all with the latest SW version and make the HW best use, reducing costs. This new software generation is designed to be easily "configurable" through intuitive User Interfaces and internal "metadata", allowing each chain and individual store to work in the most appropriate way, without the need for lengthy and expensive customizations that would make virtually impossible a continuous evolution. In traditional software, even when provided from a data center, the inevitable differences between the various chains and stores force separate instances usage, to be managed one-by-one with a traditional approach. The multi-tenancy is an aspect of the software industrialization: a transformation that requires a higher initial investment in order to provide higher quality and lower operating costs
Rapid elasticity is the fourth of the essential Cloud characteristics, which indicates the ability to add and drop machines quickly and automatically in order to offer the best service even at peak times, but again without waste and therefore through a really a "Green" IT. When a traditional software is unable to cope with load peaks, the solution is migrating to a more powerful machine (scale-up), with higher costs even when idle, which is the case for most of the time. Instead software designed for "scale-out", add more machines to work in parallel when the performance would tend to fall below a certain level and later release them to the machines pool, available to other users.
What are the benefits?
The advantages of a SoSaaS, or "fake" SaaS, represented by the gray line, are limited to very specific conditions. When a legacy software, developed internally or highly customized for an environment where changes are not expected, with tens or at most few hundreds users, where "self-service" deployment and a 24 x 7 service are not required, then Hosting without any redesign investments can give the best cost/benefit.
The advantages of a Cloud-native SaaS, represented by the azure line, are strategic and summarized as follows:
High quality and SLA (Service Level Agreement) because continuous updates / improvements of application software together with modern Cloud Computing platforms that automatically manage faults and updates without stopping the services delivery, offer a quality not reachable with previous software generations.
- Security. The expertise and resources invested in public Cloud to ensure maximum security are enormously greater than what is possible also to larger chains.
- Scalability. The “scale-out” design and rapid elasticity allows managing even very large chains without creating regional clusters, with the advantage of growth without pains, greater simplicity and better data sharing.
- Efficiency. A further advantage of multi-tenancy and rapid elasticity is the extreme efficiency and thus an economically competitive and Green IT.
- Openness and Agility. An "extrovert", modular and interoperable SW architecture, enables any chain to create its tailored IT assembling standard, low cost and high quality components while reducing supplier lock-in. Innovations are easier and faster to test and, when succeeding, immediately deployed to all stores.
Companies are like living beings: does not survive the strongest, but the most adaptable to change.