Many print service providers have heard the term “cloud computing” and how businesses and consumers are turning to the “cloud” to access software. In reality, while there are core cloud computing definitions, many software vendors are playing fast and loose with their definitions, often using “the cloud” as the basis for marketing Web-based software solutions.
The “cloud” is a metaphor representing the Internet as a whole. It is a simple visualization to describe the complex network that we now tap into constantly in our day-to-day lives.
Cloud computing is an extension of that idea: harnessing and optimizing the power of Internet-enabled technology, including data centers and software, to offer more flexibility, scalability and sheer computing power to consumers, businesses, researchers and anyone else with Internet access.
The availability and affordability of such computing power, coupled with increasingly capable Web development technology, has led to the rapid development of software that is 100 percent accessed through a Web browser. This method of developing optimized, scalable, Web-based software is the basis for the concept of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).
Figure 1: Software-as-a-Service Delivery ModelRenting Software
Software-as-a-Service, in addition to leveraging a cloud-computing infrastructure, has its own model for software delivery that allows a customer to “rent” or “subscribe” to software functionality as opposed to purchasing an application license. Unlike the typical software licensing model in which a piece of software has to be set up “on-premise” at a company’s location on its own IT infrastructure, SaaS-delivered capabilities typically only require a computer with Internet access and a Web browser; the product itself is maintained by the company offering it. Pricing Models
In most scenarios, pricing models for SaaS products consist of an initial subscription or set-up fee, along with ongoing monthly subscription or maintenance/support fees. Some companies will offer annual maintenance contracts similar to what is offered for licensed software products. These subscription or maintenance fees often cover general infrastructure costs, software upgrades and updates, customer support and bug fixes. In addition, depending on the scale of the product, there may be additional costs associated with add-on modules that are turned on for customers.
Looking to Invest in Software?Through PIworld.com, InfoTrends offers its “Ultimate Guide Online”—a powerful tool that enables printers to investigate and compare details of Web-to-print, variable data and multi-channel communications software solutions in the market. We offer two levels of access to fit printers’ needs. You can sign up for a free account to access a high level of information on each software and hardware product category covered.
When making important software investment decisions, premium access can be used to obtain a much deeper level of information on these products. Priced at $59.95, premium access includes 30 days of access to information such as pricing, training and granular functionality, as well as value-added analysis from InfoTrends analysts.
The guides were developed to offer printers an easy-to-use reference tool to help in the decision-making process that will have an impact on their businesses for years to come.
Check out the guides and let us know you what you think. Send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.