SaaS Engineering


SaaS is a key piece of jargon that you’re likely to come across when looking into learning management systems, and it has a lot to do with that elusive ‘cloud’.

Ever since the dawn of mankind, clouds have been an ominous sign. They’ve signalled that storms are coming, raining down destruction upon crops and dooming those at sea to a watery grave

But thankfully a silver lining has emerged in the form of cloud computing! This is a term which has been around for decades, but you’ve probably noticed it really coming to prominence over recent years, as it’s started to affect almost every area of technology.

Let’s take a look at how SaaS fits into our cloudy skyline, and why it’s good for learning and development!


Traditionally, using software has required you to download and install programs on your computer. This takes time, uses up storage, and requires the user to have a device which is capable of actually running the program in the first place.

Enter SaaS, otherwise known as Software as a Service! This is software which is hosted and distributed via the cloud. Contrary to what you might think, the cloud doesn’t actually exist up in the sky, but is rather a network of servers.

SaaS Characteristics

A good way to understand the SaaS model is by thinking of a bank, which protects the privacy of each customer while providing service that is reliable and secure - on a massive scale. A bank’s customers all use the same financial systems and technology without worrying about anyone accessing their personal information without authorisation.

Multitenant Architecture

A multitenant architecture, in which all users and applications share a single, common infrastructure and code base that is centrally maintained. Because SaaS vendor clients are all on the same infrastructure and code base, vendors can innovate more quickly and save the valuable development time previously spent on maintaining numerous versions of outdated code.

Easy Customisation

The ability for each user to easily customise applications to fit their business processes without affecting the common infrastructure. Because of the way SaaS is architected, these customisations are unique to each company or user and are always preserved through upgrades. That means SaaS providers can make upgrades more often, with less customer risk and much lower adoption cost.

Better Access

Improved access to data from any networked device while making it easier to manage privileges, monitor data use, and ensure everyone sees the same information at the same time.

SaaS Harnesses the Consumer Web

Anyone familiar with or My Yahoo! will be familiar with the Web interface of typical SaaS applications. With the SaaS model, you can customise with point-and-click ease, making the weeks or months it takes to update traditional business software seem hopelessly old fashioned.

SaaS Trends

Organisations are now developing SaaS integration platforms (or SIPs) for building additional SaaS applications. The consulting firm Saugatuck Technology calls this the “third wave” in software adoption: when SaaS moves beyond standalone software functionality to become a platform for mission-critical applications.

SaaS v packaged software

In the past, businesses bought and relied on packaged software – from multi-application systems covering spreadsheets, databases and email to specialist packages for particular tasks like project management or business intelligence.

The benefits of SaaS

Increased efficiency and cost effectiveness are the reasons many businesses give for turning to cloud-based SaaS solutions. The advantages include:

Low setup and infrastructure costs

You just pay for what you need with no capital expenditure that needs to be depreciated on your balance sheet over time.

Accessible from anywhere

Just connect to the internet and you can work from wherever you need to be via desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile or other networked device.


You can adapt your requirements to the number of people who need to use the system, the volume of data and the functionality required as your business grows.

Industry leading service level agreements (SLAS) for uptime and performance

So you have assurances that the software will be available to use when you need it – a difficult promise for in-house teams to make.

Automatic, frequent updates

Providers offer timely improvements thanks to their scale and because they receive feedback about what their customers need. This frees up your IT department for other more business-critical tasks.

Security at the highest level required by any customer

Because of the shared nature of the service, all users benefit from the security level that’s been set up for those with the highest need.

The future of SaaS

Cloud computing and SaaS have come a long way in a short time. Increased awareness and uptake has accelerated the growth of SaaS products and led to the rise of SaaS Integration Platforms (SIPs) such as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS). Companies will continue to outsource non-core IT activities to specialist service providers who can do it better. The cloud approach can help companies develop end-to-end integrated solutions and allow them to concentrate on what they do best, leaving a wide range of hardware and software IT issues to service providers.

With companies adopting various "SaaS" services, long-term relationships with service providers will grow – which in turn will lead to innovation as customers' growing needs are understood and provided for.