Over the past decade, SaaS has grown to be the primary service delivery model for companies across all industries, and according to a recent Gartner report, over 70 percent of companies utilize the model.
While that same report forecasts slower growth in the SaaS market over the next few years, it predicts that among all global cloud services, only Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) will grow more quickly.
There are a number of reasons for the success of the SaaS model, including the flexibility and scalability it offers. The fact that companies can easily offer new integrations and software upgrades to users on an ongoing basis — and test new features and functionality without having to wait for a full release — makes it a more efficient and cost-effective way to provide software.
As the leader of an SaaS company, however, you’ll also be faced with some challenges that are unique to this type of delivery model. SaaS companies often have to process tremendous amounts of data — a challenge that grows as your company also increases in size — and must serve a geographically dispersed user base with demanding security and accessibility requirements. Because of this, finding the right SaaS hosting provider is an important decision.
When it comes to choosing a provider, you can never ask too many questions. Here are a few of the most important questions to help you identify a provider that can meet your needs without breaking your budget:
- What types of companies have you worked with in the past?
Just like interviewing potential employees, you want to be sure the hosting provider you choose has the experience and qualifications necessary to meet your specific needs. It’s important to partner with a provider that has experience working with SaaS companies and a track record of developing SaaS hosting solutions that meet the unique needs of the field.
Not all hosting solutions are created equal, and your provider should have expertise in the kind you need. If it doesn’t, it could cost you thousands (if not millions) of dollars in wasted time and resources.
- Are your hosting options flexible?
SaaS companies often require a mix of hosting solutions to guarantee optimum performance and scalability. You need the core processing power to handle the data and the ability to spin up or down as demand changes with time. A one-size-fits-all solution is no longer enough.
For this reason, a hybrid approach is a great solution for many companies. It combines dedicated servers with a public or private cloud, and it offers a full suite of options that can be combined as needed. Flexibility is one of the key advantages of a hybrid approach, and you can create a custom solution that fits your company’s unique needs.
- Do you offer comprehensive support and SLAs?
As an SaaS company, your business lives online. Every second of downtime can have a drastic effect on your bottom line, and consumers are more unforgiving than ever. According to survey results published by Akamai and Gomez.com, nearly half of web users will abandon a site that doesn’t load within three seconds.
If your company is earning, say, $100,000 each day, a page delay of even one second can cost your business $2.5 million in lost sales each year. Because of this, it’s important to work with a provider that offers not only excellent reliability, but also dedicated and knowledgeable service if something goes wrong. Moreover, there should be strong SLAs (service-level agreements) in place that provide guarantees in terms of service and response times.
- How good is the network?
SaaS companies often serve a global customer base. While computing power and scalability are important, it takes a fast and reliable global network to reach your customers wherever they are and provide an optimal user experience.
Your hosting provider should offer multiple data center locations, have direct connections to Internet exchanges, and have strategically located points of presence.
- What are your security and compliance measures?
Hacking and data security are major concerns for every online company, but with the sheer volume of data that many SaaS companies handle on a daily basis, they become even bigger concerns.
It’s important that your SaaS hosting provider offers comprehensive security solutions and maintains all of the necessary certifications (like HIPAA and PCI) to ensure your data is protected and meets industry requirements.
Truly successful SaaS companies almost always separate themselves from competitors by thinking beyond current product-market fit and envisioning what the market may look like in the future. They then develop services to simultaneously achieve immediate customer satisfaction and long-term goals. A good hosting provider will offer you a full range of products and services that give you the flexibility you need to reach your goals now and in the future.
Find out more about how to choose the right hosting provider by downloading our free SaaS hosting blueprints.