We're constantly digging into the latest bleeding edge offerings from Google and other cloud sourced services, including Apiary, NeoOffice, and others.
We deploy our sites and systems on Rackspace Cloud servers, a top-ranked provider of virtualized servers, bringing enhanced security, scalability and strategic advantage.
Here's an article adapted from "Channel Insider" which gives a good overview of SaaS (Software as a Service) advantages for businesses.
Of course there are downsides as well, including the need to be online to access the services. However, we find that a combination of the free open-source OpenOffice Suite (NeoOffice for Mac OS X), along with SaaS, provides all the advantages of both a desktop suite and the cloud.
1. Lower costs:
Business class SaaS office applications, like Google Apps and Zoho Business, cost as little as $50 per user per year, while MS Office 2010 Professional retails for $499 per license.
2. Reduced storage costs:
SaaS office applications include hosted storage as part of the user fee. Both Zoho business and Google Apps include as much as 25Gbytes per user.
3. Integrated backup:
Documents, spreadsheets, email and databases are stored in the cloud, and are automatically backed up by the SaaS provider.
4. Improved Mobility:
With Zoho Business and Google Apps, all functionality is provided by web based applications that work with any compatible browser and internet connected PC.
5. Simplified deployment:
Administrators do not have to install, maintain or support any applications on desktop PCs. Users only need to log on to their SaaS account to access applications.
6. Reduced support requirements:
Support, such as integrated help and help desk like features are offered directly by the SaaS vendor, reducing internal help desk and support costs.
7. Enhanced collaboration:
SaaS office suites include tools that make it easy to share content, route documents, create ad hoc work groups and manage documents and other information.
8. Integrated email:
Google Apps and Zoho Business include advanced email clients, hosted email, anti-spam protection and several other communications features, such as instant messaging and video. That eliminates the need for corporate email servers, email clients and anti-spam solutions.
9. Easy upgrades:
As new features become available, they are automatically deployed to users – eliminating the costly traditional upgrade cycle.
10. Reduced training needs:
SaaS applications are designed with simplicity and ease of use in mind and offer a consistent interface across applications that reduces learning curves and speeds adoption.