Software as a Service or SaaS is the most extensively used model of cloud computing that delivers software applications in the form of service via internet. Users of SaaS solutions need not either install applications on their workstations or spend time and efforts maintaining these.
There are few vital characteristics of an ideal model of SaaS including presence of a multi-tenant environment that facilitates simultaneous sharing of a common code by several users while the source code itself is centrally maintained at a single location.
The SaaS based application can be easily customized to match user requirements since it is centrally maintained. Unique design of these applications facilitates user specific customization as well as management.
Accessibility is an important attribute of ideal SaaS applications. It guarantees uniformity of information to all consumers of SaaS application. It is also very easy to monitor use of data or management of privileges.
Implementation of SaaS should be preceded by the following considerations irrespective of the model or technology involved.
Thorough analysis of business requirements
In order to help SaaS providers develop an appropriate application or system, the users must have an in-depth knowledge in terms of their objectives and goals in initial stages. It is necessary to know the way applications should be designed to run and to identify user categories that are expected to access the proposed application.
Users need to know the responses of application in terms of security, scalability, and issues that are associated with failover. You should know the basic characteristics of the application at the nascent stage and also should be able to predict possible challenges that would have to be dealt with by process, application, or system.
Need to establish members of team
Every member of the team that is created for assuming the responsibility of tasks should be adept in the technologies as well as concepts. Teams that are going to work on SaaS models must consist of experienced developers with in depth understanding and conceptual knowledge of SaaS.
Robust understanding of the industry’s best practices and expertise in a wide spectrum of technologies is an essential attribute of the teams that would be handling SaaS related tasks.
Cost efficient and scalable infrastructure
Having put together a team with an impeccable understanding of business needs, it is time to move on to establish an infrastructure with a sophisticated data center, backup monitoring tools, hardware for storage and system, and a state of the art network infrastructure for security and connectivity.
During the course of infrastructure development, you need to plan periodic reviews and evaluation of issues that are concerned with cost and benefits. Following components need to be discussed and deliberated at length:
- Management of security
- Disaster recovery
- Network bandwidth
- Performance related factors
- Customer support
Selection of hosting and fixing bandwidth requirement
In order to ensure the best possible performance of SaaS based applications, one needs to find a facility that has reliable pubic network connectivity. It should also be consistently maintained for an enhanced user experience.
Connectivity factor is an important consideration for deciding bandwidth requirement because higher bandwidth network speed cannot be guaranteed if the user is connecting from home instead of the office. The proximity of infrastructure elevates speed because the number of network hops can be considerably reduced. Carrier neutral facilities with number of connections help mitigate traffic bottlenecks effectively.
While outsourcing the infrastructure, you need to consider testing frequency and uninterrupted availability of the data center in terms of uptime, technical support and so forth. In addition to assessing physical security of the premises, one also needs to make sure that redundancy of power and hardware is taken care of.
Procurement of reliable hardware components
It is essential to select hardware components of reputed brands to ensure reliability of better performance. In addition to the quality one should also make sure that availability of such components is assured as per our schedules as well as business requirements.
Deployment and building of SaaS components
With guaranteed availability of hardware components, the next step should be to build and deploy SaaS components. This can include racking of servers, configuration and installation of operating systems and upgrading of security devices in accordance with latest Intrusion Detection Systems. You should also configure firewalls as per the policies designed for user access.
Establishing DR plan
Planning for business continuity and disaster recovery should be performed once the application is all set for its use over SaaS platform. While planning for DR and continuity, one should try to figure out the ways of responding to a disaster situation and ways to restore the application in a specific timeframe.
Designing of a monitoring subsystem
Without a monitoring solution it would be difficult to deal with disasters. A robust monitoring subsystem facilitates timely intervention to prevent disasters. It needs to be performed by considering the following vital criteria:
- Usage level of CPU and memory
- Event logs related to application and operating system
- Components of applications including servers, databases, TCP layers, to name a few
Establishing a customer support center
Every application that is going to hit the market must be backed by a responsive support center or customer call center. It should be based in a ticket system and should be seamlessly connected and equipped for delivering impeccable performance.
Whatever application or technology one is engaged in marketing, it should have a robust backing of a customer support that can include, in addition to a well managed ticket system, a proper emailing service. Enablement of ticket system by email system facilitates a communication to relevant team members for responding to the request.
Constitute SLA (Service Level Agreement)
Implementation of SaaS model must be backed by a proper Service Level Agreement. It is expected that the Service Level Agreement is able to define application availability with specific turnaround time as well as response time.
After completion of all steps as mentioned above, you need to document the entire components of the infrastructure. Such documentation can be of exceptional help to others in the event of any exceptional behavior of the application. Documentation process is essential for any future modification of alteration of the infrastructure.