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Subscription Model Software: Pros and Cons

Elise Silagy

February 22, 2022

The subscription model has become increasingly popular over the last few years as apps and other services move away from one-time purchase models. Once just the domain of magazines and cheese of the month clubs, service providers in the IT and cybersecurity spaces have begun to adopt this model with increased frequency as software transitions away from being desktop-based and migrates to the cloud. In this article, we will discuss the benefits of subscription-based IT and cybersecurity platforms for users.

Cloud and managed IT and cybersecurity services, in particular, are an excellent fit for the subscription-based model. Under this model, users don’t purchase software (or software licenses) outright and instead pay a monthly fee per user. 

Complex IT systems are incredibly expensive to set up, maintain, and operate and come with steep upfront costs, putting them out of reach for most small and medium-sized businesses. Both the OPEX and CAPEX of maintaining the hardware and software needed to support complex IT and cybersecurity systems can be unpredictable, making even those SMBs with the budget to attempt a DIY approach hesitant to take this road.

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Subscription Models Allow SMBs to Offload the Hassle & Expense of Maintaining Complex Infrastructure

The hardware and software needed to manage IT and cybersecurity systems is complex enough that entire teams of dedicated professionals are required to manage and support them to ensure everything is running smoothly. Should something go wrong, the entire system may grind to a halt until the experts determine what the core problem is. This is completely unacceptable for a SMB, who would need to pull critical team members away from other valuable, revenue-generating tasks to attend to the problem and pausing regular business operations until the situation is resolved. 

By offloading this stress and people-power onto a SaaS (software as a service) company, SMBs can focus on running and growing their business, knowing that if an issue should occur an entire team of dedicated professionals will address it, often before the end user even realizes something was amiss. SaaS companies have one job: to maintain the hardware and software their product needs to run smoothly so that their customers can focus on their business and leave the IT and cybersecurity up to the professionals. 

The User Benefits of Subscription-Based Software Platforms

man and woman working out a cybersecurity solution

Your Software is Always Up to Date

There is nothing worse than sitting down at your desk, ready to start the workday, and turning on your computer only to learn that your software requires updating. While many updates only require a few minutes, others can take much longer, leaving workers twiddling their thumbs while the clock ticks. And since desktop-based software requires users to manually trigger updates, many busy SMB IT managers are forced to continually remind their equally busy co-workers to update their software and download new security patches to ensure everyone is using the same version and that the network remains secure.

The subscription model addresses both of these problems by ensuring all new software updates are applied automatically, and if downtime is required, these updates can be timed so that they happen when the office is closed. This both ensures everyone is always using the same version, security patches are up to date, and eliminates time wasted while employees wait for software updates to finish. 

Get the Latest Features & Bug Fixes Instantly

Security is everyone’s responsibility, from the summer intern to the CEO. Because subscription-model software is kept up to date automatically, businesses can rest easier knowing that every device on the network has its security patches up to date. This simple action, which the SaaS provider handles for you, has outsized results when it comes to cybersecurity. 

Cybercriminals often target recently patched software, knowing that not all users will be as diligent as your business about installing security patches right away. By handing this responsibility back to the SaaS provider, your busy IT team can get this off their plate and focus on activities that build your business instead of just maintaining its infrastructure. 

Everyone is Always on the Same Page

Automatic updates also ensure that every user on the network is using the same version of every program, eliminating versioning issues across your organization. By ensuring everyone is always on the same page, you can focus on building and growing your business instead of worrying about whether your co-workers will be able to access the report you wrote or if they are seeing something different than you are when they open a file.

Dramatically Reduce Up-Front Costs

Setting up and maintaining your own IT and cybersecurity infrastructure is incredibly expensive and labor-intensive; that is why entire companies are built around providing these services for other businesses. 

The subscription model eliminates the need to purchase a bunch of expensive software licenses upfront (a not insignificant expense, even if your business only has a handful of employees). Offloading the stress and hassle of maintaining a server room or other IT or cybersecurity infrastructure also dramatically reduces CAPEX costs, and not needing to hire an entire team to manage and maintain this infrastructure drastically reduces personnel costs at the same time. 

Hiring even a single IT or cybersecurity professional to wait around in case something goes wrong is an unnecessary expense, using up funds that could be better deployed elsewhere. With the subscription model, if something goes wrong, you can breathe easy knowing an entire team of professionals, whose entire job is to make sure things go smoothly, is already on it. These service providers also invest in layers of hardware redundancy, so if something does go wrong, user traffic can be smoothly rerouted (eliminating or at least dramatically reducing downtime) while the experts get to the root of the problem.  

Shop Around Before You Commit

Software licenses can be very expensive, so you want to make sure you have chosen the right tool for the job before you hand over your business’ hard-earned funds. Because the subscription model dramatically reduces these upfront costs, it is much easier to shop around for a SaaS provider that offers a product that meets your team’s needs and plays nicely with your existing infrastructure. 

Scale Your Subscription to Meet Your Current Organizational Needs

When you purchase a software license up-front, you are often locked into a contract that lasts at least a year and may not be easy to cancel. By opting for a provider that operates using a subscription model, you are never paying for more licenses than you are actually using at any point in time, and scaling up or down to meet your organization’s shifting needs is as easy and painless as a few clicks of a button. 

Also, because SaaS subscription models are specifically designed to scale smoothly, you can avoid the headache and lost productivity associated with finding a new vendor should you outgrow your current software solution. 

Multi-Tier Approach & Personalized Options to Suit Your Needs

Every business is unique and has unique IT and cybersecurity needs and concerns that need to be addressed. Many SaaS providers offer multiple tiers for users to choose from so client companies can select the best tier to meet their needs. For example, VirtualArmour offers two tiers: essential services and premium services

Many of these services can also be personalized using an à la carte approach that allows users to pick and choose between multiple services so they can curate a package that suits their needs. This not only gives users more granularity over their solution but eliminates the need to pay for services a particular company doesn’t actually need or want. 

Subscription Model Software Makes Budgeting a Breeze

Moving CAPEX into OPEX by opting for a subscription model approach makes it much easier to budget for software expenses. When a software license is purchased outright, most companies offer users a quote based on the customer’s current number of users and (if relevant) the service tier they would require. However, a once cost-effective solution can transform into a huge financial drain if a company scales more rapidly than anticipated (thereby jumping into a higher, more expensive, user number tier) or requires a more personalized approach, achieved via pricy add-on services, than their current providers’ one-size-fits-all approach can offer (the additional cost of which the customer may not have been made aware of before committing to a one year or multi-year contract). 

Software licenses are also typically purchased on contract, meaning you pay for a full year upfront, whether you will use the full year or not. Suppose a pivot or other business change leaves you with a bunch of unnecessary software licenses. In that case, the traditional licensing approach can leave you eating the cost for the whole year, effectively paying for software you aren’t even using. The subscription model offers much more transparent pricing: You pay a set fee per user, which is communicated upfront before signing on the dotted line. If you need to add or subtract users, your price increases or decreases by the previously communicated per-user amount accordingly, and the change is reflected in your next monthly bill. 

Not having to purchase, upgrade, and maintain your own supporting hardware makes it significantly easier to allocate your infrastructure budget since you don’t need to worry about suddenly replacing damaged hardware or pouring your own money into necessary upgrades to ensure your workers can continue to do their jobs effectively. 

Build Relationships

Unlike one-time purchases, the subscription model approach also helps build relationships between providers and users. In addition to providing you with a service, subscription model providers are now invested in helping ensure you and your team are comfortable using their product and pleased with the functionality it offers since an unhappy subscription customer can quickly and easily switch to a competitor. 

Providers are also more likely to proactively solicit and consider user feedback to keep users happy. There is also a strong incentive for the provider to stay up to date on the latest industry developments and continually work to improve their product by adding more features and addressing user concerns promptly and effectively, all while sharing expert knowledge with their customers so users can get the most out of the provider’s product. 

Unlike the one-time purchase model, the subscription model is a natural relationship-building tool, encouraging ongoing communication and feedback between the user and the provider in a way that benefits both parties: providers typically enjoy higher levels of customer loyalty, while users are often given more say in future features and updates.

Reliability You Can Depend On

You have a job to do: yours, not your IT or cybersecurity teams’. The SaaS business model is predicated on making sure all users have the tools they need to do their jobs effectively at all times. To help ensure smooth, uninterrupted service, many SaaS providers invest in multiple layers of hardware redundancy and multiple secure backups (a high but necessary expense, well out of the reach of the average SMB) and employ an entire team of experts whose only goal is to keep things running smoothly. 

Redundant systems also help ensure that impacted user traffic is swiftly and smoothly rerouted until the problem is solved, a process so seamless that many end users might not even realize there was a hiccup in the first place. This allows customers to focus on their business instead of managing their own IT and cybersecurity infrastructure, hiring internal IT or cybersecurity experts using funds better spent elsewhere, or spending money on now-redundant licenses for software they may not even be using anymore. 

Need an Expert? VirtualArmour is Here to Help

Not everyone is an IT or cybersecurity expert, and that’s okay. A good SaaS provider is more than just a service provider; they are a valued partner, working with you and your team to ensure you have the tools you need to do what you do best and leave the hassle and expense of managing your IT or cybersecurity infrastructure up to a trusted team of experts. 

VirtualArmour offers a wide variety of IT and cybersecurity services, including :

We also offer three service tiers to best suit your needs: Essential services, premium services, and one-time consulting services. For more information about how we can help support your IT and cybersecurity needs, or to request your free, no-obligation quote, please contact us today

Suggested Reading List 

Cybersecurity is a complex and continually evolving field, and keeping up to date is critical if you want to safeguard your organization and its digital assets effectively. 

To help you stay up to date on the latest in cybersecurity news and trends, please consider visiting our Articles and Resources page and reviewing these educational articles.

Cybersecurity Basics For All Organizations

Cybersecurity Basics By Industry

Minimizing Your Risks

Common Threats (and How to Avoid Them)

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