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Computing Academy GCSE Computer Science

Custom Sometimes, off

Custom Sometimes, off the shelf software is too generic and doesn’t quite work in the way you’d like it to. Some companies have very specific requirements and need software to work in a very specific way, look a certain way or integrate with existing computer systems in a certain way. If off the shelf software does not give businesses the control they need over the software, they can commission a developer to build a new, custom written application. There is often a significant cost involved in this, and as the software needs to be designed, built and tested - it is not available immediately. Software as a Service (SaaS) Traditionally, if you wanted an application to perform a certain job you would go to a high street or online store and buy it. Once installed on your computer it was yours to use. After a period of time a new version of the software with new features might have been released and you could choose to go and buy the latest version, or continue to use the (slightly out of date) version you already owned. Increasingly, users are now turning to Software as a Service (SaaS) as an alternative. SaaS i n v o l v e s u s e r s a c c e s s i n g applications via the Internet (usually using a web browser). The software is not installed on the users’ computer but is instead hosted centrally on a server in the cloud. Unlike traditional software where t h e u s e r p u r c h a s e s t h e application once, SaaS is usually sold on a subscription basis with users paying a monthly 51

fee to access this on-demand software. Although some users may prefer to ‘own’ software rather than ‘rent’ it, SaaS does mean that users always have access to the latest version of the software and can access it from any computer with an Internet connection. Some SaaS is actually free; examples include Google Drive and Apple iCloud which allow users to access word processing, spreadsheet and presentation applications over the Internet which are not installed on their home computers. SaaS does rely on a stable, reasonably fast Internet connection and as such has only become a possibility in recent years as higher bandwidth broadband services have become available. Proprietary vs Open Source Proprietary software is developed commercially to be sold in order to make money. The developer owns the software and they allow customers to use it by selling them a license. Only the owner of the software - the intellectual property - has the right to sell it and modify it. As proprietary software is sold, customers can expect a reasonable level of service and support; there is usually a help website, telephone number or email address. Open source software is not owned by anyone. Developers write the software either individually or as part of a community and make it freely available. Anyone can then use the software as it is, or edit and the source code to make new versions of the software. 52

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