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Software as a Service: Working with Web-based apps

The emergence of Software as a Service has enabled organizations to get new applications up and running quickly and cheaply, saving resources for mission-critical tasks. But several old questions about security and integration, along with new questions about cost and service levels, remain.

The most prevalent and fastest-growing market within cloud computing is Software as a Service (SaaS), which centers on a few core applications that are delivered over the Internet. Customer relationship management (CRM), HR, procurement, collaboration and email applications account for 80% of the SaaS marketplace, according Ben Pring, an analyst at Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Inc.

For the past four years, Care Rehab, a McLean, Va.-based medical device manufacturer, has run's hosted CRM technology. is the pioneer in the SaaS market and currently counts 1.5 million subscribers to its application.

With limited in-house IT resources, Care Rehab decided early on that SaaS made sense for the company.

"When we compare different applications that are hosted internally or externally, it's a compelling argument both in cost and features to basically have the application hosted externally," said Ed Barrett, the vice president of marketing at Care Rehab.

"I wouldn't say we're agnostic to the hosting environment, but we do believe [SaaS] will be more stable and easier to maintain," Barrett said. "For whatever marginal premium we pay, we think the benefit outweighs the risk, which we perceive to be insignificant."

In this three-part series, discover the benefits and the flaws of Software as a Service, including how to deal with security and integration issues and whether the model lives up to its touted cost and feature expectations.

Software as a Service: Working with Web-based apps
What constitutes Software as a Service?
Tackling Software as a Service integration issues
Everyday challenges and the future of Software as a Service

Barney Beal is the news director at Write to him at

Editors' note: This chapter on Software as a Service is the third part of an e-book on cloud computing that also includes chapters on CIO strategies for the cloud, development for the cloud and Infrastructure as a Service.

Dig Deeper on SaaS support and licensing

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