In a recent white paper, we discussed the trend towards Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions hosted in the cloud. We concluded that this model offers compelling benefits for laboratories of all sizes, from entry-level to corporate.

The benefits of SaaS solutions have made them increasingly popular in many different industries. One of the most obvious benefits is the elimination of the costly overhead associated with traditional systems. Instead, users only pay for what they need and use, and always have access to the latest updates. Many of us already use such applications daily – let’s think about Google Apps, Microsoft Office 365, Dropbox, and Slack, to name a few of the most common.

The lab’s IT space also moves to the cloud, not just for data storage or hosting your LIS solution purchased. There is a desire to abandon traditional software licensing, installation, maintenance, and management models, and collaborate with an ISP that delivers the right-sized application while taking responsibility for back-end security, availability, and performance

A Middle Way

LIS solutions are traditionally divided into two categories: on-premises systems and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) models.

While an internal LIS has some interesting benefits, it also comes with significant upfront costs. In addition, they undergo slower update cycles and are prone to service interruptions during hardware or software maintenance.

The IaaS model can address some of these concerns and free the customer from involvement in infrastructure management. That said, the customer remains responsible for software updates, upgrades, and, if necessary, maintenance.

A more flexible and cheaper alternative is available in the SaaS model. You can get a high-level IT suite without huge forthright or progressing interests in-licenses and systems, or without paying for highlights you don’t need to bother with. Server, network, load balancing, security, and backup are part of the subscription package.

Cost is not the only benefit. Because the vendor keeps the software up to date, you can always access the latest version via the web browser of your choice, whether your team is in the same lab, in a different building, or another part of the world. You don’t need to install or check anything on your workstation, laptop, or mobile device. And if you need to scale quickly, the process is almost instant.

SaaS is Coming of Age

The SaaS software delivery model is not only reliable and mature, but it is also starting to dominate the cloud computing market. However, there are still misconceptions about SaaS and the main concern is security (see also our recent posts on cybersecurity and LIMS here and here).

The frequently mentioned security benefits of local installations (greater control over servers and firewalls) are also significant drawbacks. In most cases, SaaS platforms tend to protect companies from themselves, as less tech-savvy team members can make system changes or updates that cause problems rather than fix them.

It is related to another widely held belief: IT professionals prefer local software over SaaS. It is also a misunderstanding. Sure, some IT professionals prefer everything to be local, but most appreciate the need to rely on the day-to-day management of the software by those who know the platform best: its developers.

The Path to SaaS

While lower costs are an important factor, there are other considerations to consider when choosing between an on-premises, cloud-managed, or SaaS solution. We’ll cover some of them in more detail in our latest white paper, which includes a graphical decision tree to help you analyze your company’s decision-making. Our research confirms that some laboratories, especially those with deep pockets, prefer traditional systems. But for those who want a less cumbersome approach and see the value of having easy and inexpensive access to an always up-to-date lab IT suite, with LIS, ELN, LES, and SDMS fully integrated, a SaaS subscription offers an attractive and workable alternative.