Evaluating software has become an important job skill. Choosing the right solution, and using it to its fullest potential, is a competitive advantage in the institutional investing industry.
And making the right decision is more difficult than it once was. Those shopping for an enterprise system must have a working knowledge of the kind of solution they are looking for, not just the checklist of functions it claims to offer.
To characterize it simply, there are two kinds of software to choose from: cloud-based software (often called Software-as-a-Service, or SaaS), and installed or on-premise software. Read our white paper, Taking Control of Your Data, to see a side-by-side comparison of the two, specifically for investment professionals.
Cloud-based software has quickly become the preferred deployment for business and operations leaders looking for a long-term solution that will evolve and grow along with their organizations.
Here are seven defining characteristics of cloud-based (or SaaS) software.
One of the first things you’ll notice about a SaaS solution is how easy it is to access—all you need is a web browser. That means it can be accessed anytime, from anywhere with an internet connection. You and your team can log in remotely from individual devices, with no separate installation required. This is a key feature of any web-based model.
A true SaaS solution is a multi-tenant environment, meaning a single version of the software is utilized by all clients. When product development teams solve a problem for one user and new functionality is deployed, every user benefits. Users have access to the same, up-to-date common features of the software, but their data and information remains separate and secure. Multi-tenancy is a key element in cloud-computing technologies.
The foundation of SaaS software is fundamentally different from on-premise software, because it’s cloud-based and all information is accessed via the web. For that reason, true SaaS is built from day-one as a web-based product that requires no installation. Some software vendors are making superficial changes to their legacy products and selling it as SaaS. However, though these “hosted” solutions are sometimes accessed via the web and maintained off-premises, they are incapable of providing the core benefits of SaaS, such as multi-tenancy and frequent updates.
SaaS solutions include security features that may surpass the capabilities of traditional on-premise IT departments, including the benefits of increased resources and a dedicated focus on protecting customer data. This typically involves data encryption to protect incoming and outgoing data, robust perimeter safeguards including firewalls and intrusion-prevention solutions, and enhanced user identity services.
Many SaaS companies have audited security controls in place that are regularly reviewed through a report or ISO 27001 certification to verify these controls remain robust and dependable.
SaaS solutions are designed to respond quickly to change with frequent updates. Because SaaS solutions are on a shared platform, new releases and enhancements are available to all clients, seamlessly and simultaneously, and address similar functional and industry-wide needs.
Users of SaaS solutions all utilize the same version of the system, but individual instances are configured to meet client needs. Custom report writing, individual policy tracking, user-defined data fields, tailored dashboards, and other configurations provide endless flexibility. SaaS solutions should fit in with and simplify your current processes while integrating with your current systems.
Clients on a SaaS solution are generally billed for shorter terms—such as month-to-month—to use the service without the burden of a long-term contract. This lets your company choose the technology that works best, not the one you’re tied into using for years. The flexible nature of the contract means it’s in a SaaS vendor’s best interest to make sure clients are both happy and successful.
Starting with the very first line of code, Clearwater’s has worked toward our vision to provide clients with a higher level of transparency and accuracy to their investment portfolio information. To achieve it, they built a cloud-based SaaS system; the same system that continues to grow and evolve today. Are you considering a better solution for your investment accounting and reporting needs? Request a meeting with our expert solutions consultants.