I posted a couple of articles on SaaS, or software-as-a-service, earlier this week. While mooting the idea of using SaaS to better define the cost of providing IT, I mentioned that I would be sharing some of my thoughts on certain software commonly used by SMBs that I consider ripe for adoption as SaaS.
Today I highlight the areas in which savings can be expected not only in terms of software licensing, but also on the hardware front.
E-mail and anti-spam
One trend that is seeing small and medium-sized businesses taking to SaaS is in the area of hosted e-mail. Businesses are heading in this direction in order to avoid having to fork out hefty sums of money for server hardware and the requisite software licenses.
Recognizing the market potential, many of these e-mail service providers in recent years have started offering sophisticated options such as Microsoft Exchange hosting and support for mobile devices such as Windows Mobile and BlackBerry Smartphones. In addition, anti-spam filtering is often bundled together; additional perks like this can only serve to speed up the migration by SMBs towards these providers.
Archival storage and backup
The traditional approach toward archival storage and backup typically calls for the SMB to purchase centralized RAID storage or tape backup drives with which to perform batch backups. With more branch offices, though, the cost to provide adequate archival protection using this paradigm can become exorbitant fairly quickly. A different picture is painted when using an online backup service, with the most obvious being the fact that no upfront investments is necessary.
Personally, I pay for a service called SugarSync, which helps me to transparently and automatically sync documents and songs across a couple of laptops and a server. I am assured that even if all my computers were to fail simultaneously, SugarSync maintains yet another copy on its server. If you prefer a simpler no-frills service that does straight backup, you will probably be happy with MozyPro, which left a positive impression on me when I evaluated it some months back.
While the use of fax is generally declining, it is still the linchpin of B2B communications in many businesses. Rather than paying for multiple phone lines and the software licenses for a fax server - or multiple fax machine and their associated consumables, the idea here is to subscribe to an electronic fax provider.
Depending on specific providers, it should be possible to have faxes automatically e-mailed out as PDF documents to groups of e-mail accounts depending on the incoming number.
Obviously, there are many other services ripe for SaaS adoption that I have not managed to cover here today. Do you know of an innovative SaaS provider, or have some thoughts about adopting SaaS that you would like to share? Feel free to write in or post a comment below.