CBORD Explains: SaaS

In one of our recent eNews articles we unpacked the differences between a system interface and system integration and noted a common problem we all face: confusion among technical terms. This is understandable, of course, so many of them sound so similar. Another challenge most people face with the rapid advancements of technology is the prevalence of acronyms—words formed by combining the first letter of a series of words. Acronyms are often misunderstood or misinterpreted, you can sometimes feel like you're in the Army.

One of our New Year's Resolutions for 2017 is to get back to basics. We want our users to be clear and confident when they engage with technology, so we have decided to tackle another well-used, but ambiguous, term: SaaS.

What is SaaS?

SaaS is short for "Software as a Service". This term really refers to a software delivery model. Although there are several software delivery methods, the two most popular are on-premise and Software as a Service. In a SaaS model, the back-end infrastructure (servers, operating systems, security, disaster recovery, etc.) is housed and managed by CBORD (in the Cloud) and provided via a web browser. The customer simply pays an annual fee in order to access the software. The term Cloud refers to the Internet, the path to access the software, and the data center where the software is actually housed. Conversely, an on-premise model requires that the infrastructure be provided and maintained by the customer with in their network.

How does it all work?

The user experience is seamless as compared to an on premise solution. Imagine you are attending an on-campus bake sale for the French Club's trip to Québec City. You choose an item, hand your ID to the French Club representative who then swipes your ID on a card reader attached to their smartphone. In a SaaS model the transaction is sent to the cloud—CBORD's data center—and the transaction is verified and recorded in the same manner as if the software was housed at your location. Basically it doesn't work any different than any other system you have, the software is just housed at an offsite location and accessed over the internet.

Why is it popular?

"Whether on-premise or Software as a Service, finding the right delivery model comes down to several factors: the application purpose, network infrastructure, and the institution's human resource capabilities."1

The increasing popularity of the SaaS can be explained by a number of key factors.

  1. Little to no IT resources required – Since the vendor manages the IT components of the solution the customer does not have to engage their own IT team for assistance. This enables them to deploy services faster and more efficiently.
  2. Regular upgrade schedule – Software upgrades are completed on a regular schedule during predefined maintenance windows. Typically these windows are overnight. This enables customer to have access to the latest version with no downtime impact.
  3. Unlimited user access – Web based user access allows for wide deployment of user interfaces without the concern of upgrading individual user PCs. Additional functionality such as sale or activity based transaction screens can also be easily accessed from tablets or mobile devices.

Learn more

Members from our Development and Managed Services teams along with Product Managers have recently released a "To the Point" video series on our YouTube channel that breaks-down the functionality of SaaS systems and their potential for college campus life and business operations. CBORD's experts provide detailed descriptions about network requirements to help you make an informed decision if you are considering migrating your operation to the cloud.

Interested in hearing more? Reach out to one of our representatives who can give you all of the information you need. We want 2017 to be a year of information and we are committed to providing you the information you need to make the best decisions at your operation.


1. Andrew Hudson, "The Future of Campus Card Servers," CR80News.com, May 30, 2014