Illustration of packaged software and software as a service (SaaS)

Packaged Software vs. SaaS

All businesses need software. That fact is not in question. What is in question is what’s better—packaged software or software as a service (SaaS)?   The answer to the packaged software vs. SaaS dilemma is multi-faceted.   The first consideration is whether or the needed software is available in both configurations.  If it is, what’s the price difference?  The second consideration is one of practicality. If you choose the packaged version, can your existing technology infrastructure handle it and keep it secure?

The Difference Between Packaged Software and SaaS

Simply put, packaged software is on-premise enterprise software that gets installed on your organization’s servers whereas SaaS is software you “rent” (buy a monthly or annual subscription to) and is hosted in the cloud, accessible via an internet connection. It’s kind of an apartment building (the cloud) with different tenants (the users) living together and sharing the same building (database).

When you purchase packaged software, you own it. It’s YOUR copy of the software.  It’s hosted on your company’s system, and, as a result, it can be customized in any way you choose.

SaaS is hosted “in the cloud,” which is a fancy way of saying “on someone else’s server.”  So, for instance, when you buy a subscription to EZnet Scheduler®, your software (as well as all of the data you input) lives on our secure server.  The advantage to that is that you don’t have to soak up precious computer memory to run the software. All you need to do is access it on the internet. We do the heavy lifting so you don’t have to.

Packaged software is also generally more expensive.  The subscription model used by most SaaS companies like EZnet Scheduler, Quickbooks, Adobe and Salesforce, works out to be a much more affordable option. It’s also more reliable because our servers are constantly maintained and upgraded.  We also offer top-of-the-line security, too.

SaaS Customization and APIs

Some articles you’ll read on the internet talk about how you either can’t customize SaaS or that it’s a difficult process.  Such is not the case with EZnet Scheduler.

EZnet Scheduler screen shots
In the packaged software vs. SaaS debate, it is often said that SaaS doesn’t offer the customization that packaged software does. But EZnet Scheduler, our cloud-based appointment scheduling software, is fully customizable for any size company in any industry.

Our software is fully customizable and adaptable to suit your business needs—in all industries. We don’t restrict you.  All you need to do is tell us what customizations you want or need, and we do the rest.

EZnet Scheduler also offers custom APIs (application programming interface), which is a connection between computer programs—essentially a gateway that allows software to talk to other software and also defines how that conversation takes place.

APIs let your product or service communicate with other products and services without having to know how they’re implemented. This can simplify app development, saving time and money. When you’re designing new tools and products—or managing existing ones—APIs give you flexibility; simplify design, administration, and use; and provide opportunities for innovation.

APIs are sometimes thought of as contracts, with documentation that represents an agreement between parties: If party 1 sends a remote request structured a particular way, this is how party 2’s software will respond.

For example, imagine a book distribution company. The book distributor could give its customers a cloud app that enables bookstore clerks to check book availability with the distributor. This app could be expensive to develop, limited by platform, and require long development times and ongoing maintenance.

Alternatively, the book distributor could provide an API to check stock availability.

Benefits to This Approach

  1. Letting customers access data via an API would help the distributor aggregate information about their inventory in a single place.
  2. The distributor can make changes to its internal systems without impacting customers (provided that the behavior of the API doesn’t change).
  3. With a publicly-available API, developers who work for the book distributor, book sellers or third parties could develop an app to help customers find the books they’re looking for. This could result in higher sales or other business opportunities.

Three Approaches to API Release Policies

  1. Private – The API is for internal use only (offers the greatest control over the API).
  2. Partner – The API is shared with specific business partners (provides additional revenue streams without compromising quality).
  3. Public – The API is available to everyone (allows third parties to develop apps that interact with your API, which can be a source of innovation).

Advantages of Software Delivered as a Web Service

  1. Because the software is already put together and installed, it’s usually faster to get it up and running for your company. Since you don’t have to bear the cost of maintaining and upgrading the software, it is cheaper (at least in the short run) and can allow you to spend less on IT personnel.
  2. Since SaaS vendors receive payments from you on an ongoing basis (instead of a large lump sum upon purchase followed by optional service fees, as in the traditional software model) they have a vested interest in providing you with good service so they don’t lose the revenue your subscription brings into their company. This can translate into more upgrades and faster customer service.
  3. Because most of us are accustomed to using the web, SaaS programs are often more user-friendly than their packaged counterparts are.
  4. While traditional packaged software compels companies to provide their own protection for data, security for data hosted in a web-based program is the responsibility of the SaaS vendor. This allows the SaaS vendor to take advantage of economies of scale for data protection that small-to-midsize businesses (SMBs) cannot. Security from external cyberattacks is greater than most SMBs could manage on premise.
  5. With packaged software, you must make a new purchase every time a new version is available. SaaS solves that problem by providing continuous software updates. You don’t have to do anything to acquire those updates. All you have to do is access the software on the web. Once again, the SaaS vendor does all the work so you don’t have to.
  6. SaaS software can be launched on any device as long as there is an internet connection.
  7. Many SaaS software programs come with a free trial. Here at EZnet Scheduler, we give you two options: 1) Start with a 15-day free trial and then roll over into a paid plan at the end of the trial, or 2) Buy now and get 30 days (the second month) free.
Screen shot of the EZnet Scheduler home page showing "Buy Now" and "Free Trial" signup buttons
EZnet Scheduler gives you options: Get a risk-free, 15-day free trial or buy now and get 30 days free (second month of the subscription)

 

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