Facing the challenges of SaaS
Software as a Service (SaaS) is here to stay.
Thanks to SaaS you can dismantle your expensive, power-hungry, on premise infrastructure, your finance department can wave goodbye to the need for periodic huge capital spends and your supply chain will get much, much simpler.
Market intelligence firm 451 Research found that enterprise end-user organisations are most likely to deploy applications in a cloud environment by “Modernising existing applications – moving them to hosted software or SaaS.
In reality, therefore, the move to the cloud is likely to be somewhat stealthy, as it will depend on how your existing line of business (LOB) application providers change how they provide their applications.
When this move does happen, there will still be infrastructure challenges for you to deal with. Take data locality, for example. You can’t simply brush that aside as “being in the cloud.” Data held, generated or manipulated by LOB applications often feeds other organisational functions that may still be hosted on-site, such as reporting or business intelligence. As a result you may hit problems caused by latency, so consider either moving these functions to the same cloud as your SaaS provider and/or change how data flows to and from your private cloud.
It’s also important to consider security – SaaS doesn’t take that responsibility off your hands, including the requirement to meet any legislative constraints. That’s why we’re seeing so many security solutions focused on SaaS. While it is clearly attractive to be able to access SaaS-based applications from any browser, it needs to be set up so that you can achieve compliance and your security should employ multi-factor authentication as a minimum. You’ll also need to keep revisiting your security as your solutions evolve.
Then there’s service levels. Don’t be afraid to ask your SaaS provider how their solution is hosted so that you can ensure it really will provide a sufficient level of service.
- If they are using public clouds, are they deploying across ‘availability zones’ (or similar).
- Can they offer any guarantee where your organisation’s data will reside?
Finally, pour yourself a large coffee and read the End-User Licence Agreement (EULA). We mean it.
It’s very tempting to rely on the reputation of the SaaS provider, but that doesn’t guarantee the EULA will be reasonable. Doing this will be time well spent, as will the time you spend on those other aspects if you want SaaS to provide the benefits that everyone in the organisation is expecting.