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Software as a Service(SaaS) vs. Software with a Service (SwaS)

October 5, 2023
Software as a Service(SaaS) vs. Software with a Service (SwaS)

The Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) industry is booming. Vendors were already rapidly gaining popularity with businesses for the convenience and efficiency they offered. Trends such as the shift to hybrid work and the digitization of retail have only further increased demand. 

Yet for all that they offer, SaaS applications also have plenty of drawbacks. That's likely why in recent years we've seen the rise of something new — Software-with-a-Service. 

Let's talk about what that is, how it works, and most importantly, what it can do for your business.  

The Rise of Software-as-a-Service

The history of SaaS is closely tied into the history of the cloud. 

Back in the late 90s and early 2000s, people and businesses were still trying to get a feel for cloud computing. Similar to what we see today with artificial intelligence and virtual reality, there was no shortage of misinformation, hype, and distrust. And just like today, there were pioneers that broke through all the misconceptions to show everyone what the technology could truly do. 

Salesforce became one of those pioneers in 1999 when it began using the Internet to deliver its software to end users. At the time, it was a novel idea — the Salesforce platform could be accessed from just about anywhere with an Internet connection, and all a business needed to do was pay a recurring subscription.  While it's difficult to definitively say whether this was the point at which the SaaS delivery model was invented, Salesforce most certainly had a hand in popularizing it.

Amazon was another major player in the early days of cloud computing. In 2002, it introduced the idea of on-demand computing resources and cloud infrastructure by using the cloud for more efficient resource utilization. Then, just four years later, it launched Amazon Web Services, combining Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) with SaaS.  

That same year, Google joined the fray, launching the product suite which would eventually become the now-ubiquitous Google Docs and Google Drive.  

At the time, these innovations were largely viewed as outliers or curiosities. SaaS was at best seen as only viable for smaller organizations, and at worst little more than a fad or trend. Yet as the Internet continued to develop and improve, this perception quickly changed. 

By 2013, even naysayers were starting to understand the value of cloud software, and many of the same organizations that viewed SaaS as an ephemeral trend were now outsourcing business functions such as supply chain management and customer relationship management to SaaS vendors. 

Adoption would continue apace throughout the 2010s, as SaaS vendors began serving not just general business use cases, but highly niche ones as well. Yet even in the face of this changing landscape, some businesses clung to on-premises software out of either stubbornness or necessity. Then the pandemic happened. 

COVID-19 forced widespread adoption of the cloud in all its forms. Unsurprisingly, this proved transformational for the SaaS landscape, with more than 73 percent of businesses seeking to move most or all of their software to SaaS in 2021. SaaS vendors were perfectly positioned to support businesses struggling with digital transformation, and their software was perfectly suited for a digitally-driven world.

Flash-forward to today, and we arguably stand on the cusp of another transition, though admittedly not quite so major as the leap from on-premises to cloud. As SaaS applications became increasingly commonplace, businesses began demanding more from their vendors. These demands eventually led to the emergence of a new kind of SaaS model — Software-with-a-Service (SwaS). 

Before we get into that, though, let's talk a bit more about what specifically draws organizations to SaaS. 

Understanding the Benefits and Drawbacks of SaaS

As already stated, SaaS is a delivery model in which a vendor provides a cloud-based, on-demand application or platform to a customer. This software exists and operates independently of any hardware. Although in some cases end users may be required to download a thin client, the SaaS model doesn't typically require much in the way of installation, either. 

As you might expect, there are a ton of benefits here: 

  • Because SaaS is available on-demand, there are no upfront costs associated with purchase and installation. 
  • SaaS applications are essentially maintenance-free, with no need to spend time and money on maintenance or updates. 
  • Although more technically-complicated SaaS solutions may require configuration, they are generally much easier to deploy and set up than on-premises software.
  • SaaS is by nature highly flexible and scalable, being remotely accessible from anywhere and able to provision additional resources and instances on demand. 
  • SaaS solutions are hardware- and platform-agnostic. 
  • With most SaaS vendors, subscription fees represent a predictable, low-cost recurring expense. 

But as we've already mentioned, the SaaS delivery model isn't without its shortcomings, as well: 

  • SaaS represents a loss of control. You're entirely reliant on the vendor, which can be a problem if they aren't forthcoming with communication. 
  • Most SaaS vendors skimp on support post-deployment, often leaving customers to their own devices when it comes to overcoming technical challenges such as integration. 
  • Though flexible, SaaS applications tend to offer limited customization.  

What is Software-with-a-Service? 

SwaS essentially refers to a delivery model where the customer receives not only the software, but additional services on top of that software. It's basically what many SaaS vendors already claim to provide — a completely hands-off delivery model where the customer only has to worry about using the software. The vendor takes care of everything else.

To put it another way, SwaS is to SaaS what managed services are to IT services. SwaS vendors go above and beyond to ensure all a customer's needs are met. This goes beyond managing and maintaining the platform, and may include everything from providing analytics insights to customer training. 

Compared to run-of-the-mill SaaS, SwaS offers several significant benefits: 

  • Significantly reduced resource overhead, as the vendor takes care of many things which traditionally might fall on the customer, such as integration. 
  • Worry-free platform and product maintenance. 
  • Deep personalization and customization — since the vendor is significantly more involved, they can take extra steps to tweak their software to the customer's needs. 
  • Better communication and collaboration between customer and vendor. 
  • Access to on-demand customer support. 

Tangiblee's SwaS Approach

We've always considered ourselves a SwaS company. We implement, create, and manage our software from end to end, handling all the heavy lifting on the behalf of our customers.  It's how we keep our solutions so lightweight and easy to use.

It's also how we form such strong relationships with our clients. Clients know that they don't need to dedicate their already thin time and resources to management and maintenance. They know that they can count on our team for all things Tangiblee. 

More importantly, they know that we'll take whatever steps are necessary to fulfill their needs, all while improving our products through their feedback. If that sounds like the kind of relationship you want with your vendors, schedule a demo here.

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