For the longest time, people have associated software with the programs that they would download on their computers. These programs would enable them to perform a variety of tasks, such as image editing, bookkeeping, word processing, and more. Businesses used special programs that allowed them to manage the various parts of their organization.

A lot has changed over the past two decades. Computing as we knew it has gone through a fundamental shift. Cloud-based services have emerged as the technology of choice for both individuals and businesses. Powerful applications are now within reach and accessing them requires not much more than a browser and an internet connection.

What is SaaS?

SaaS or Software-as-a-Service is a popular model of cloud computing. In this software distribution model, a third-party service provider hosts the application and makes it available to the end users over the internet.

In this model, software is centrally hosted and licensed to users on a subscription basis. SaaS applications are primarily accessed by users through a thin client like web browsers.

SaaS is the evolution of the application service provider (ASP) model that emerged in the 1990s. ASPs offered businesses the service of managing and hosting their customized business applications with a view to reduce their costs and provide them the benefits of the ASPs expertise in a particular business application.

The fundamental difference between the ASP and SaaS model now is that ASPs initially managed and hosted third-party vendors' software. They weren't making their own software.

The majority of SaaS vendors develop and manage their own software which is then licensed out to customers through their own infrastructure. ASPs also dealt with conventional client-server applications while SaaS applications generally require only a browser for access.

SaaS providers develop products that offer some value to customers. They hope to be able to charge a fee against the value provided.

The biggest challenge that SaaS providers face is finding the pricing sweet spot that enables them to turn over a profit while also convincing their customers that the fee they’re paying is worth the value they’re receiving in return. To that end, there are several pricing models that service providers can consider when starting out.

  1. Flat Rate Pricing

    This is one of the most commonly used SaaS models. Customers get one single product that offers a set of features for one set price. This is quite similar to the software licensing models of the past where customers would pay a one-time fee for an application.
  2. Per User Pricing

    Many service providers opt for this model for applications that they have primarily created for businesses. Customers have to pay per user. For example, a marketing agency with 100 employees will pay significantly more for an analysis tool to get access for all employees than one that only pays for access for 10 employees.
  3. Pay As You Go Pricing

    This model is most commonly used by infrastructure and platform-related companies like Azure and AWS. Customers are only charged for the amount of resources, like bandwidth and API requests, that they consume. This provides them with the flexibility to scale their operations up or down without incurring hardware costs.

What does a SaaS developer do?

A SaaS developer has the important task of bringing the vision behind the product to life. They should have a clear understanding of the monetization model, the needs of the target audience, and the technology stack that needs to be used in order to build the product.

The developer handles the number of features that are to be built into the product and also manages the service upgrade frequency.

They're also responsible for integrating the product with other services through APIs. They're responsible for ensuring the scalability, security, and reliability of the platform.

How does SaaS compare to IaaS and PaaS?

SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS are regarded as the three main components of cloud computing. They happen to have several differences between them, even though they're all essentially different methods of using cloud computing technology for your business.

IaaS

IaaS or Infrastructure as a Service is a cloud computing model that provides customers with storage, networking, and virtualization resources on a pay-as-you-go pricing model.

The idea is to provide customers with the flexibility of utilizing as many or as little resources as possible on their products. This eliminates the need for them to make costly investments in on-premises hardware.

A startup may not have enough capital to set up their own data center. It's a very costly endeavor but one they can avoid by relying entirely on IaaS providers like AWS EC2.

It provides flexible and scalable infrastructure for customers that want to host applications in the cloud. They're only required to pay for the server resources that they use, not for the entire hardware stack.

PaaS

Platform as a Service or PaaS is primarily meant for developers. Vendors that provide these services offer hardware and software tools to developers over the internet so that they may use them to develop applications.

These tools are built on virtualization technology to help save time for developers so that they don't have to start from scratch when writing code.

PaaS vendors now provide a very cost effective method for developers to create their own unique application even if they don't have a significant amount of system administration knowledge. Vendors like Magento offer the Commerce Cloud as a PaaS for ecommerce. Merchants can develop their host as part of the package with Magneto.

What skills does a SaaS developer need?

There are several skills that are required to build a web-based SaaS product. The developer needs to have knowledge of server-side development with the likes of Python in addition to client-side development using HTML and CSS with Javascript for interaction. Knowledge in database design and management will also be useful.

SaaS developers should ideally pick the server-side language that they're most comfortable in, though most opt for Python with Django as its go-to-web framework.

Pure Javascript can be useful for client-side development with jQuery being the preferred Javascript framework / library. Other frameworks like AngularJs can be useful, too.

Additional skills that include user interface and experience design can prove to be helpful. Good visual design skills will only add more polish to the final product. If the developer also needs to perform server management then they need to have those skills as well.

What to look for in a SaaS developer for your business software

You might have an amazing idea for a SaaS product but it’s not possible to turn that idea into reality unless you work with a highly skilled developer.

There are several things that you should look for in a potential candidate, as they are the ones who will be bringing your vision to life and you’d want the work to be up to your expectations.

They need to have the requisite skills otherwise, the work on your product might not be up to the mark. That would force you to revisit parts of the project that should have already been completed, and result in delays and additional cost to just get the product up and running.

The developer that you choose to work with should have a deep understanding of your vision for the product. It’s vital that both parties are on the same page with regards to how the project is to move forward.

SaaS development can be costly, especially if you don't have your own in-house development team. It would cost significantly more to establish a dedicated team of software developers, and it would be a time consuming process as finding high quality talent is difficult and often very competitive.

That's why most people prefer outsourcing the job to third-party service providers that can get the job done quickly. They already have talented developers on the payroll and the team can quickly be deployed to work on your project. This ensures that no time is wasted and that the work begins as soon as you give the project the green light.

Finding reliable third-party service providers can be a challenge but it’s far from impossible. Zibtek has been a partner to many of the industry’s leading companies, developing powerful SaaS products for them quickly.

At Zibtek, we have a whole team of experienced developers that can cater to any custom software requests. Whether you need a full-fledged SaaS platform created from scratch or want your existing platform to be upgraded with new functionality, Zibtek's team of talented developers can help with it all.

Zibtek is one of the world’s leading software development companies. Based in the United States with offices in Salt Lake City, we manage a global talent pool of experienced developers who have worked with us on projects for both Fortune 500 companies and startups alike. So whether you need a brand new SaaS platform, want your existing platform to be tweaked or are just looking for some consultation, reach out to Zibtek today and we’ll be happy to help.