SaaS – running your freight business in the Cloud

Posted by   manager on    1 June 2017

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What is Saas?

SaaS – Software as a Service – is an alternative to the traditional methods of buying applications software. With SaaS you don’t have to pay for licences up front instead you subscribe to the usage of the software and pay a monthly or annual fee for the use.

How does it work?
The SaaS provider hosts the software and your data in the “Cloud”. They may provide the underlying hardware themselves or, more usually, buy in the server power and storage space as they need it from one of the specialist providers of Cloud platforms. This enables them to take advantage of economies of scale to give tremendous flexibility and resilience. They configure one or more virtual servers in the cloud, with all the components, such as operating systems, database licences and anti-virus software that they need to support their application. Because they can pay for what they use they can deliver the application at an all-in price, and the customer buys what they need at any one time and so can scale up or down as required.

What do you need to use a SaaS product?
A SaaS application is delivered over the internet, so all you need is a computer with an internet connection. As all the processing is taking place on the host server there is minimal impact on your local PC.

What are the benefits?
SaaS offers great flexibility – you can scale your usage up or down as your needs change, you don’t need to spend out on buying and updating expensive hardware and operating systems to run the application as this is all taken care of by the provider. You can use it from anywhere in the world where you have a reasonable internet connection without the expense of local implementations and wide area networks. You can implement an application with minimal up-front costs, and it also helps to free up your internal IT resources, as management of the application and databases, backups and upgrades are done for you.

Things to consider?
You will be relying on the internet to use the application as it is no longer running on your internal network. You therefore need to make sure that you have a quick and reliable internet connection. If your internet connection fails, then you will temporarily lose access to the application and your data at that location while it is out of action, although, of course, you can simply continue at any other location with an internet connection.
You should ensure that the application provider uses a good quality Cloud platform to host the application and your data, which provides a secure and robust environment. You should talk to them about arrangements for backing up your data, and how practical it would be to move your data and applications to another platform if the need arose.
You should certainly discuss with a potential SaaS provider what level of commitment they expect, and how easy they make it to increase or decrease user counts. A major benefit of the SaaS model is flexibility, so you want to make sure this isn’t negated by an onerous contract which makes it difficult to scale your usage up or down as you need.
You need to give some thought to other applications you use and if and how they might need to interact. Of course, you may want to move other applications into the cloud – many of them, such as Microsoft Exchange and Office are readily available in this way through Office 365.

Is SaaS the right choice?
SaaS can offer a very cost effective way to take on board a new application, with its low start up costs and future flexibility, but it doesn’t suit every situation. You may have good reasons for wanting to deploy the application across your own network, and if you are expecting your usage to be stable over a number of years then up-front purchase of a lifetime license could be cheaper.
Naturally up-front cost isn’t the only consideration. With a SaaS application you are also buying the server time, and those servers should be kept up to date in terms of hardware and software as a matter of course. You don’t therefore have to budget for periodic replacement of equipment, and for upgrading the Windows operating system, for example. Perhaps even more significantly, you won’t be spending management and staff time on planning for and implementing these upgrades. You would also expect the SaaS provider to carry out routine system management for you. Overall you could expect to spend less time on IT issues, and consequently more on your real job. Time savings may not be so easy to quantify, and they will of course be reduced if you also need to continue to maintain an internal IT infrastructure for other purposes, but they should be factored in to your decision making.
Aside from the cost considerations, you will also want to weigh up the benefit to you of being able to scale your usage of an application up or down as you need, without having to be concerned about the effect on your IT infrastructure. If you don’t need this level of flexibility, but like the idea of getting away from relying on in-house servers, you could also ask your supplier about a third option: a one-off license purchase, but with them hosting the licenses for you in the Cloud and providing day to day support and system management.
The equation is not therefore a straightforward one, and the answer will depend on individual circumstances and business strategies. Ideally you would evaluate the options with an experienced supplier who understands and can offer all the options - license purchase, Cloud hosting and Cloud SaaS – and can therefore help you make an objective assessment.

SaaS by MultiFreight
MultiFreight have been providing both Cloud SaaS and Hosted services for years and have a highly-experienced team in helping companies identify the best model for their business.
Working with AWS “Amazon Web Services” – allows us to provide dedicated and tailored server environments that meet our customers’ needs and allow them to scale as they require. We manage and maintain the environments, updates backups, support and monitor the systems with intelligent tools. There is no up-front commitment and you can increase or decrease your user count as your business needs change, and just pay for what you have used in any month
Our cloud software solutions are the same as our trusted on-premise solutions and so our customers get the same functionality and feature rich software solutions they rely on.

For further information on our Cloud services or to speak with one of our team to see if Cloud is right for your business, contact us.