There’s a modern revolution shaping globally that is Software as a Service (SaaS). But do you have any idea when this technology really started? Many would think that it started only a few years ago with the development of cloud computing. Yet surprisingly, SaaS has been around much longer than most believe, and it has a rich history that has shaped the industry today.
SaaS – An Overview
Before delving into the origins of SaaS, it’s crucial to understand the technology we’re looking at. SaaS refers to a cloud-based service where instead of downloading software onto your desktop PC or business network to use or update, you instead access an application via an internet browser.
SaaS has been viewed as a pioneer in the tech industry. With major leaders such as Adobe, Microsoft, and Oracle converting their business models to SaaS, we can probably project that this is not a short-lived model.
The Birth of SaaS: The ’60s and ’70s
The idea of SaaS was born in the ’60s from the concept of a “”time-sharing”” system. Mainframe providers like IBM used to rent out computing power and database storage to banks and other large corporations.
Fast forward to the 1970s, the concept of Virtual Machine (VM) was designed. VM allowed multiple distinct, separate software environments to coexist on a single physical resource. Companies like Digital Equipment Corporation sold VM systems that implemented time-sharing.
SaaS Progression: The ’90s
Although time-sharing laid the early groundwork, the concept of SaaS as we know it today was recognized in the 1990s. Marc Benioff’s Salesforce is often recognized here. Salesforce began as a software company selling CRM solutions over the internet in 1999.
In 2002, Amazon launched AWS, providing a suite of cloud-based services, including storage, computation, and even human intelligence. However, AWS did not officially launch EC2, which served as the pioneer for modern cloud infrastructure, until 2006.
The Growth of SaaS: The 2000s
From the 2000s onward, we saw a boom in the SaaS industry. In 2005, Google launched its own SaaS business application, Google Apps for Your Domain. This suite of apps included Gmail, Google Talk, Google Calendar, and the Google Page Creator. This was a game-changer as it opened the door for smaller businesses to utilize software that was otherwise only affordable by large corporations.
Microsoft then entered the SaaS market in 2008 with its Azure platform. They offered a wide array of services including SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS services.
Today, Beyond, and Diverse Perspectives
Today, SaaS is more than a trend. It has become a mainstream industry standard that characterizes the new way businesses think about software solutions. From big players like Dropbox, Slack, and Zoom to thousands of other SaaS startups, the expansion continues.
Our perspective on when SaaS began can lead us to different answers. If we consider the ’60s and ’70s, we can consider time-sharing the birth of SaaS. If it’s the ’90s, then Salesforce gets the crown. However, if we consider the boom in the 2000s, then Google and Microsoft are the pioneers.
In essence, it’s a progression of technology, innovation, and market readiness. SaaS didn’t just start at a defined moment, but instead gradually evolved with each innovation.
Indeed, SaaS is a fascinating bright ladder in the evolution of computing. Each decade contributing a rung to the ladder, bringing it to what it is today—an integral part of how businesses operate and succeed.”