Welcome to SaaS thoughts

Whether you call it Software as a Service (SaaS), Managed Service Provider (MSP) or On-Demand Services, your organization uses the service running “in the cloud”. This blog will discuss these services, their benefits, drawbacks and operations. Are we biased? Yes. We believe that some services make sense for most organizations. Email security is one of those. However as Mark Twain said, “All generalizations are false, even this one.” Each Tuesday we will post information and questions about Software as a Service. Occasionally, we will have a "Guest Post" from either a consultant or vendor posting her/his thoughts on Managed Services generally as well as some degree of specificity based on her/his unique perspective. We encourage your insights, comments and feedback. Welcome.

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Common Terms


A list of terms used in SaaS thoughts. As posts are added, this list will grow.


Managed Service Provider offering services ranging from traditional break/fix and patch management through hosted services.


Software as a Service. The client pays a subscription for the use of the service. No hardware and usually no software is installed at the client site.

Single Tenant

Hardware: dedicated equipment for your use in a MSP’s data center.

SaaS: offerings built to a single company’s specifications and make available as a SaaS. Single tenant offerings are likely to encounter the same customization and cost problems as traditional software. Recent advancements in SaaS have given rise to a “multi-tenant” architecture, allowing the vendor the ability to maximize the efficiencies of scale using a shared application and shared hardware.

Discussed in: When is SaaS “Outsourcing”?


Your use of a shared service in a MSP’s data center. Example: Salesforce.com

Wikipedia: Multitenancy refers to the architectural principle, where a single instance of the software runs on a software-as-a-service (SaaS) vendor’s servers, serving multiple client organizations (tenants). Multitenancy is contrasted with a multi-instance architecture where separate software instances (or hardware systems) are set up for different client organizations. With a multi-tenant architecture, a software application is designed to virtually partition its data and configuration so that each client organization works with a customized virtual application instance.

Discussed in: When is SaaS “Outsourcing”?

ITO – Information Technology Outsourcing

ITO can either mean existing personnel are transferred to a 3rd party company but, remain on site. A popular alternative is to offload some of the work done by the IT staff to a 3rd party while the current staff continues with other portions of the work.

Discussed in: When is SaaS “Outsourcing”?

BPO – Business Process Outsourcing

BPO transfers entire internal systems to a 3rd party MSP or SaaS.

Discussed in: When is SaaS “Outsourcing”?

MTA – Message Transport Agent

An MTA is an email agent that forwards email from one location to another. Under the X.400 ITU-T Recommendations that define standards for Data Communication Networks for Message Handling Systems, if an MTA is unable to transfer email to the next the designated step, it will hold and periodically reattempt to send the email for specified period of time.

MX Record – Mail Exchanger Record

The DNS record indicating where email for a specified email domain is to be sent by an MTA. There can be multiple MX records for an email domain. Each MX record can have a priority associated with it. An MTA will attempt to send email to the MX records in priority order. The lower the priority number, the higher the priority.

Email Security

Usually a system to stop spam and virus-borne email. Some email security systems also include email archiving (see below), email encryption (see below) and email business continuity (see below).

Email Archiving

The storage of email messages in a separate storage system. Not to be confused with backup and restore systems.

User Archiving gives users the ability to offload email messages from their email box to relieve storage requirement imposed on the email system. A user may be able to retrieve a message from inside their email client from their archive.

Compliance Archiving stores email in non-repudiatable off-site storage to conform to some regulatory rules. Access to the compliance archive is not through the standard email client or original system rather, the archive database is usually accessed via a web browser. Separate permissions are given to those requesting access and all access is logged.

Email Business Continuity

Email is still the business critical application in an office and across the Internet. If access to a given email server is down due to infrastructure problems or scheduled maintenance, email can accessed via a business continuity service. the Business Continuity service usually holds several days worth of email so users can gain access to older email via an email portal on the business continuity portal.

When access to the primary email is restored, the email messages sent from the business continuity service are “sync’ed” back up with the primary email server.


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