Is it possible to run a SaaS from a WordPress multisite install?

Here is a question we get asked a lot… that’s a joke because nobody ever asks this question at least not to us. But it’s an interesting topic isn’t it? Can you run a SaaS (Software as a Service) using WordPress? Well, the short answer is “yes”. Because WP has always been the software that gets under-estimated, harshly critiqued, even ridiculed… and then comes out on top. There was a time when it was just a blog and people said it could never be a real CMS. Then it become the #1 CMS. There was a time when people said sure you could do ecommerce in WP using WooCommerce, but it will never be as good as Shopify or Magento or some other stand-alone ecommerce system. And then the WC/WP combination become by far the most popular way to run a shop online.

What makes WordPress continue to surprise and outperform expectations? We don’t have a complete answer, that’s a big question. But certainly the open source community is a factor. It’s also momentum. Because when it came ecommerce (and elearning), people who were already running WP sites just wanted those features and were willing to support development in those areas. Economically speaking, the demand was there from consumers.

So what about SaaS? Well WordPress has this way of being one-step ahead. In the case of SaaS there are certain things that matter a lot, and providing an API is one of them. WP’s native API support (every WP site is now a working API system) is a powerful step towards becoming a SaaS provision framework. Now we can imagine the objections… don’t the cool script children use NodeJS? Sure, does that really make a difference (compared to PHP) in running a SaaS? Modern JS like React and Vue is the way to go for interfaces… none of this jQuery reliance… okay, well in a SaaS we could use React which is now already loaded and integrated into WP and available for use. What’s more important is that WP doesn’t actually do anything to influence your decisions in front-end development. Even if you didn’t want to use the loaded React version, you could load any front-end framework you wanted at the theme layer. All WP expects is that you install a “valid theme”, and the requirements for that are literally a folder with 2 files in it.

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