Definition: Software as a Service (SaaS)
By Howard Young
Software as a Service is an application which is not install on the user’s computer. The application runs on a remote computer usually residing in the company’s data center or in third party’s data center. Since the application is not resident on the user’s machine, a web browser is often used as the interface to access the software. Some vendors supply an Java applet as the user interface instead of a browser to provide a better and more responsive user experience.
As a business model, the software is licensed to the user on a recurring monthly or annual subscription. Some companies provide the service without cost but will embed advertising to offset development and maintenance costs. For example, Google provides free Gmail and Google Docs to individuals; however, Google Apps for business is an paid subscription model.