1660317334644 Herosaas

Why SaaS will dominate the future-system landscape

Feb. 24, 2022
By outsourcing data center functions to SaaS providers, specialized resources are available to optimize specific software solutions and reduce the risk of system failures.

As companies continue to migrate large enterprise systems to the cloud, one additional factor must be considered to ensure optimal benefits. Welcome to the world of SaaS.

When professionals refer to being “in the cloud,” they are usually referring to the deployment of their systems on a public cloud platform (like Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS, or Google GCP), which is used to leverage state-of-the-art infrastructure. This is typically known as infrastructure as a service (IaaS). The move to a public cloud provider allows a company to reduce its data center footprint while leveraging the latest technology and security capabilities. 

A SaaS deployment extends the concept of providing infrastructure as a service to include everything necessary to establish and manage a software product for the customer—from the software, hardware, and deployment activities to day-to-day operations. As part of a SaaS offering, the provider not only works with the cloud provider as part of a subscription, but also uses his or her expertise to provide an optimized, turn-key environment to their users.  

Why SaaS?

The notion of “as a service” is not new and can be found in our everyday lives. As a simple comparison, homeowners no longer need to look for water, dig a well, and fetch water. Instead, they simply turn on the faucet and pay for their water usage. While the straightforward approach of retrieving one’s own water might have worked a hundred years ago, the expectations of how much water people use on a daily basis, the quality of the water, and the number of people requiring water has changed, making the old paradigm unmanageable.

Companies have traditionally built large data centers and employed expensive professionals to deliver systems to their organization. Early on, there was good reason for this company-centric approach, such as IP security concerns, and ensuring good performance for their user base. But like the water scenario, the complexity of managing the increasing number of applications and users has grown significantly. Within a short time, new users from all over the world are accessing these systems, further adding to security concerns. Higher data volumes and the interconnectivity of more systems sharing data has put more pressure on data centers to provide higher levels of service. 

SaaS benefits to manufacturing

With the increasing complexity of enterprise software like product-lifecycle management (PLM) to support an expanding array of complex use cases for manufacturing, the connection between specific applications and infrastructure becomes more critical. The volume of data required to meet complex simulations or connect applications in real time to create an effective digital thread requires a level of expertise that is difficult and expensive to find. This is where SaaS becomes a critical enabler. By outsourcing data center functions to SaaS providers, specialized resources are available to optimize specific software solutions and reduce the risk of system failures.

Within the manufacturing ecosystem, the creation of digital twins is an excellent example of a digital strategy that introduces high levels of complexity to PLM environments. The digital twin (or virtual replica of a physical device) is one of the fastest growing technology trends today. By creating digital twins, organizations can move many product-development activities to the virtual world and decrease the time to market. Improved system designs, increased testing accuracy through simulations, and better management of information over time are all dependent on the effectiveness of the PLM system that drives the process.

To create digital twins, the role of PLM has expanded to become the digital backbone of information used for cross-functional processes. The volume of data, along with the complexity of connected systems involved in the digital-twin process requires a strong connection between software and infrastructure. SaaS offerings for PLM utilizing highly skilled technical professionals and robust infrastructure are necessary to provide the proper level of support to ensure initiatives of this type are successful. 

A word of warning

As companies consider SaaS, they need to be aware that many offerings can be restrictive. In particular, SaaS offerings may not allow for a company’s specific business logic, forcing organizations to use out-of-the-box functionality and adapt to new business processes. There are also concerns about the systematic approach to upgrades. While this may be fine for some organizations, regulated companies find that they have little to no control over when system changes are forced into their environment, opening themselves up to compliance issues.

These fundamental concerns are often resolved with more powerful SaaS offerings that include a platform with low-code capabilities to add needed flexibility to the environment. Without this functionality, providing customizations for company specific requirements can result in a complicated patchwork of SaaS software products across the landscape.

By Bruce Bookbinder, Aras Corporation product marketing manager