Defining “Real-SaaS” and How it Can Benefit Your Business
In today’s IT landscape, many organizations have adopted a cloud-first approach to business systems. But with so many vendors offering SaaS solutions, how do organizations know which vendor will enable them to achieve the true benefits SaaS has to offer? What are the characteristics to look for when considering a SaaS solution, and what are the real impacts on modern businesses? One of the biggest questions potential customers have when it comes to SaaS is about customization versus configuration.
Business software delivery models have evolved tremendously over time. At the dawn of enterprise computing, (during the ”˜60s and ”˜70s) businesses built data centers and hired programmers to write “homegrown” business applications and operators to run the applications on-premise in their own data centers.
In the ‘80s and ‘90s, innovators struck out to produce commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software—applications that typically provided 70 percent to 80 percent of the business logic (consistent between businesses) that was licensed to consumers with an annual maintenance and support fee ranging from 12 percent to 18 percent of the original license fee. The remaining 20 percent to 30 percent of the business logic, typically tied to unique business differentiators, was written and maintained by in-house IT staff as customizations to the COTS solution. The maintenance and support of the customization was the responsibility of the software consumer and often broke when the vendor released new versions of the software. This led to high costs for executing an upgrade—which could take months, if not years—that typically ran over budget and provided little advantage to the business. The result was businesses postponing upgrades and fracturing the customer community on multiple versions of the software. Although the COTS/ license model provided economies of scale in software production, the continuous evolution in the underlying infrastructure resulted in a software lifecycle whereby software was created, maintained, and died (end of life).
The success of the SaaS delivery model is highly dependent on the service provider’s ability to protect the confidentiality, availability, and integrity of each customer’s business and employee data. Because all information security programs are not created equal, it is critical that companies considering SaaS vendors place the highest priority on selecting the vendor with the strongest information security capabilities.
It is extremely important to carefully study the reputations and security capabilities when evaluating potential SaaS providers. A strong recommendation when choosing a vendor that will be processing personally identifiable information (PII) or financial data is to ensure that information security is one of their core competencies.
The provider of choice should be transparent in their security practices and be able to demonstrate their defence-in-depth approach and methods for employing multiple layers of security to protect customer data.
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