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Cloud computing is something of a buzzword, but it helps solve a host of real problems, including many issues surrounding maintenance and patching of software in a corporate environment.

Unfortunately the recent iCloud hack did little to allay user fears about the security of cloud infrastructure, but did help drive home the point that security in the cloud is vitally important. VCs are literally piling money into the sector, and if you follow the money flow a significant portion of that cash is bound for companies looking to bolster the security of the cloud.

Whether you’re offering software as a service, infrastructure as a service, integration as a service, or platform as a service, cloud computing solves these old problems by taking on a lot of new challenges. This is great for the client, who avoids all the old pitfalls, as well as reducing their upfront IT costs. However, it places all the responsibility for innovation, maintenance and intelligent management onto the SaaS, IaaS or PaaS provider. A small error could result in a mass exodus of your clients.

That’s why companies involved in cloud computing are constantly researching, developing and improving their processes, software and hardware. Small inefficiencies and minor oversights scale up with distributed computing to become enormous complications.

Solving Problems With Software As A Service

Providing Software as a Service is not necessarily different from providing software as a product, but in practice it is different, and entails different problems.

Many of the main problems faced by SaaS providers are also encountered by web developers.

The increased load and number of users demanding instant feedback and rapid response means that concurrency and efficiency are even more important than they are in traditional software applications.

Unlike websites, though, a SaaS offering is extremely unlikely to be a simple Create – Read – Update – Delete (CRUD) application. That makes scaling up a much harder problem, moving from questions that can be solved in a constant amount of time to questions that take longer to answer as they get larger. Some of these questions will be extremely difficult to solve in a reasonable amount of time without also using big data solutions, while others will be difficult to speed up at all.

For this reason, it is much more likely that the problems faced by SaaS providers will be relatively novel and would likely seem relatively obscure to other professional software engineers.

It also tends to make them into ‘harder’ problems, which in turn makes them far more likely to fulfil the criteria for research and development tax relief:

An R&D project that seeks to achieve an advance in overall knowledge or capability in a field of science or technology through the resolution of scientific or technological uncertainty.

New Domains Bring New Opportunities

New domains bring new opportunities for research and development. Whether it’s a new application for an algorithm that’s mostly only been of interest to academic mathematicians, or just a drastic improvement in the speed of well-known processes, a new domain is often a land-grab for the juiciest, lowest-hanging developments.

The first companies to make improvements to industry standard practices don’t just stand to gain by being the first mover; they also stand to gain from generous UK R&D tax credits.

The opportunities can occur both outside the domain, with cross-domain knowledge being brought to bear on domain-specific issues, and inside the domain. Within a new domain, new infrastructure and integration standards represent new opportunities for research and development at the same time as improving the way everyone within the sector carries out business.

Software as a Service, and cloud computing as a whole, definitely represents just such a new domain.

Tax Credits For Software As A Service And Cloud Computing

If you’re actively involved in the development of cloud computing solutions or infrastructure and you’ve not explored claiming R&D tax relief for the work you’re engaged in then in all likelihood you’re missing out on a considerable benefit.

A loss-making SME can recoup up to 32.63% of the expenditure they incur, whilst a profitable SME can recoup up to 24.75 of their qualifying expenditure.  The barriers to entry within the sector tends to be significant, with a high rate of obsolescence being ever present.  Early stage businesses operating within the space can benefit just as much as the more established players, and the relief can provide a significant cash-flow boost for pre-revenue businesses still investing heavily in developing their own IP. Get in touch for a no obligation discussion about how you might be able to benefit.

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