Advantages of SaaS for Language Translation Applications


In March I published a blog entitled “On-Premise or Cloud-based? Where your language translation tools should be deployed today". In this blog I argued that one consideration in the decision of where to deploy your language translation applications should be how your company feels about the security of your data. While security concerns may be true for some number of companies, many now appreciate that cloud vendors can deliver equivalent or better security and there are other, equally large considerations for deciding where to run your applications, on premise or in the Cloud.

In this blog I would like to argue that if you don’t have a very specific need for your language translation applications to be on premise then you should outsource the hosting of your apps to a SaaS provider generally, and specifically to SDL. I would like to show how the benefits of using a SaaS offering can almost always exceed those from running the apps on premise, in the organization’s own datacenter.

→ Download our whitepaper for a full list of SaaS benefits and considerations

On premise deployments may make the most sense if:

  • The application requires unique services or provisions – SaaS providers make their money with standardized offerings to which they can apply regular and repeatable services and gain economies of scale. If your application doesn’t fit one of their standardized offerings, then an enterprise may be better off hosting it themselves rather than paying one-off types of pricing.
  • Industry regulation may overwhelm SaaS cost advantages –some industry require intense audits of SaaS providers as a safeguard to their business processes. This is especially true for the Life Sciences industry with their GxP requirements (GxP is the abbreviation for Good x Practice. The x is the replacement character, which specifies the stage of drug development, such as Laboratory or Clinical) where SaaS providers can be audited against these regulations. The added cost of meeting these requirements add overhead and cost of ownership to the SaaS provider and can overwhelm any savings of a SaaS deployment.
  • Organization regulations – some companies have their own requirements on where certain types of apps or data should reside.

3 advantages of SaaS for language translation applications

For companies looking to reduce the cost of language translation, minimize the impact on their IT organization, as well as improve the availability of the applications, a SaaS solution has many advantages.

#1 – Pricing

There are several pricing advantages for SaaS-based applications. The first is that SaaS applications are rented as opposed to purchased, eliminating the need to do a large upfront investment. A SaaS contract is generally for a specific period of time with provisions that can allow the company to walk away if they desire after their initial contract period. This feature is particularly important for smaller companies that are new to translating and don’t have the money to invest in a full on-premise computing environment. SaaS contracts can also be more flexible about the services included. Companies can begin with small package and increase the number of services as they become more comfortable or as internal demand increases.

The other area of saving is the reduced cost of IT infrastructure when compared to the cost of deploying language applications in a local data center. With a Cloud deployment you don’t need on-site rack space, cooling, servers, storage, electricity, data backup and application recovery expenses. A SaaS vendor delivering 100X applications will, of course be able to do it cheaper per app than an individual organization trying to host just one on-premise. You should also factor in that you require fewer IT resources as many IT tasks are taken on by the SaaS Company. In addition the monthly SaaS costs can be paid for out of operational budgets and not capital budgets, another major advantage, particularly for smaller companies in a startup mode or for a departmental vs enterprise decision to invest in the new solution where the department may not have a CAPEX budget.

#2 – Services

For cloud applications the gold standard of performance is uptime. This is the percentage of available time that the application is performing and available to the contracting company. Most cloud providers advertise that unplanned downtime will not exceed more than 1%, providing an uptime rating of 99%.

Language translation applications can be quite complex. SDL translation management systems are not just a single application running on a single server. There are database servers, back up servers and other supporting applications required to keep the application functioning and your data safe. Each of these components needs to be managed, upgraded and backed up to successfully meet the application availability objective.

Services provided by the monthly SaaS contract can include many of these components as standard.

  • Regular monitoring and maintenance – On site personnel and remote monitoring means that the application availability is known at all times. If a portion of the infrastructure is lost then resources are on site and trained to take immediate corrective actions.
  • Database maintenance – The database attached to the application is a critical part of the offering in that if it goes down the application ceases to function. Databases have specialist systems all of their own. These need to be patched, upgraded and tuned from time to time.
  • Data backup and system redundancy – Data is backed up to remote locations (out of the weather topography and electrical grid) on a daily (changes only) and weekly (full backup) schedule. Data backup applications and devices can be expensive and require an IT skill set not widely deployed in even the largest organizations.
  • Security – SDL and any underpinning cloud providers are ISO 27001 certified and SDL is a member of Safe Harbor, maintaining its own independent security, audit and compliance team. Generally this level of security investment with specialist domain knowledge exceeds that which is affordable by most organizations. Beyond staff, security technology like leading anti-virus protection applications and secure firewalls are also included in the solution.
  • License management – the software licenses for the underpinning applications, middleware, databases and operating systems are maintained by the hosting organization and are not the responsibility of the application users.
  • Operating system patches – Whether Microsoft, Oracle or Linux, all operating systems need to be maintained and updated as providers issue patches and new versions.
  • Application upgrades – finally SDL performs upgrades to its own software applications. Generally the engineers that actually wrote the code support the software upgrades as they understand what is required since they have performed them in the labs.

If anyone were to price out these services and what is would cost to perform them themselves, they would see that a SaaS contract costs far less than an on premise deployment. The reason the SaaS provider can charge less is that these services are performed on a large scale leveraging the economies of scale with experience and planning not available to most IT organizations in the world. For a SaaS provider hosting large numbers of applications the ROI for more investment in automation builds up, further driving down the operational costs which can be reflected back to the end customer.

#3 – Hosting results

Many of the SaaS benefits described above are possible because no one knows the SDL applications better than us. We wrote our language translation applications and we know what it takes to care and administer them correctly. Bottom line – renting your language application in the SDL cloud can provide these benefits:

  • Lower customer ownership costs – You will pay less for the application in both capital (no servers, storage or datacenter expenses) and operational spending (no electrical, cooling or personnel costs for data backup and recovery or IT the resources to perform the work).
  • Higher application uptimes – You should compare the SaaS uptime percentage to that of what an enterprise can generate for their on-premise applications. As a former Industry Analyst I asked many corporations for their on premise uptime figure and not one would share it as it is potentially embarrassing for their IT department. You will find that SaaS uptimes far exceed what organizations can generate themselves. (For a better understanding of the effort it takes to meet higher than 99% uptimes, please read Charlie Came’s excellent blog on “The IT infrastructure of a #BlackFriday in The Cloud" and the different types of changes required to manage a Cloud infrastructure).
  • Upgrades are fast & easy – 85% of SDL TMS SaaS customers have been upgraded to V11, a major release just 3 months old. The other 15% have chosen not to upgrade at this time and will do so when it makes better operational sense for them.
  • Finally and what many customers tell us is the best benefit – application users deal only with SDL. There is never of question if the issue is one of software, hardware or networking as SDL is responsible for the entire offering – we call this in the industry “One throat to choke".

I hope you agree that the benefits of hosting your language translation applications with SDL far outweigh what your organization could do for themselves. If you have any doubt about the best deployment option for your translation software, please speak to us and we can share more of our findings.

→ Download our Operations and Security whitepaper for a list of key considerations to take into account