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Looking Behind the Software-as-a-Service Curtain

What does an annual software-as-a-service (SaaS) fee get you? A lot more than you think. Not only do you get access to applications, but support, maintenance, updates and upgrades, plus all the compliance and business resiliency you could ever ask for – which is better framed up as what you’re not getting – risk, downtime and costs.

When I talk to customers about our SaaS offering, I talk about a number of benefits that most don’t think about:

Infrastructure with the requisite levels of redundancy, scalability, security
The cost of deploying and maintaining infrastructure that covers all these bases is so incredibly cost-prohibitive these days that many small to midsize retailers could never build it on their own. Then again, why would you if you don’t have to?

Compliance with PA-DSS, PCI-DSS and SAS70
Any retailer considering a hosted model should ensure the applications they’re getting are PA-DSS validated, and also that the infrastructure behind the application is PCI-DSS and SAS70-certified. Having both PCI and SAS70 certifications ensures that two different sets of “eyes” are seeing to it that the right data security and process controls are in place.

Power to the data center
The cost of powering a data center continues to escalate. Costs here include air conditioning, as well as backup generators to ensure business continuity in the event of a power failure.

Automatic updates
Consider the time savings and the value of not having to worry about managing software updates and upgrades that one would normally have to undertake; everything from Microsoft security patches and upgrades, to anti-virus dat updates that need to be distributed to every POS register on an ongoing basis. SaaS also offers you peace of mind in the form of investment protection via new application features and functionality enhancements that flow seamlessly to your estate.

Help desk and IT resources to support store personnel in the field
Maintaining a retail technology ecosystem can take a village. Fortunately, our solution offers comprehensive support services that can field questions and resolve issues, taking the onus off of corporate.

Plan B (back ups and disaster recovery)
Even the most basic disaster recovery action of moving and storing tapes offsite at a third-party location is challenging for many SMB retailers. Retailers can sleep at night, knowing their applications and data are safe and secure with Epicor. Annually, we simulate the disaster recovery process, validating our processes for minimizing business impact and maintaining business continuity.

In many cases, opting for a SaaS delivery model is more than just getting those applications on tap (“hosted” or on demand), it’s about acquiring more time and resources to drive your business, vs. driving IT, and it’s also about taking costs out of your business. When retailers tally up the numbers, it bears a strong case for SaaS. For example, when factoring in redundancy from a personnel perspective, you can say that you need more than one IT person (people do, after all, get sick and even IT folks need the occasional day off); so therefore you need to factor in the cost of two IT people, etc.

Many of the costs of certain service aspects that are part of the SaaS delivery model discussed here are often already encompassed in some other line items within a retailer’s budget. Time and time again, retailers are realizing just how much cost can be wrung out of their operations and how much more they can get by moving to a SaaS delivery model.

Posted by Clifford Perlman, Director of Business Development - SaaS, Epicor

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