Companies unleash their true potential in today’s ever-changing, constantly evolving world through digital transformation. Implementation of cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS), when combined with Agile methodology and DevOps, represents a strong value proposition
Companies unleash their true potential in today’s ever-changing, constantly evolving world through digital transformation. Implementation of cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS), when combined with Agile methodology and DevOps, represents a strong value proposition in which process efficiencies and continuous improvement cycled through DevOps represent infrastructure-ready solutions. Achieving closed-loop continuous integration with Agile methodology becomes a powerful builder of momentum towards a competitive edge.
Comparing SaaS Benefits with On-Premise Software
What is it about SaaS that accounts for its growth compared to software that is on-premise? One answer is the ease of access through an Internet connection. That alone makes the application far more flexible compared to the limitations generally associated with on-premise software.
There are far more advantages as well—nearly all of which are justified in terms of their economic value. One essential benefit is Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)—a conversation that starts with the annual flat fee users pay for SaaS. The amount may not be what some may consider inexpensive, but the costs are justifiable when compared with the significantly higher cash outlays of on-premise software technology. Variables such as hardware can drive up costs. Anyone who has ever attempted to install or maintain an on-premise system knows that adjustments and/or modifications will occur with most system hardware configurations. Adding to those costs are the inevitable expenditures for computing power, maintenance for CPUs, and, of course, overall labor costs.
Another issue to address when comparing costs and user benefits of SaaS to on-premise is scalability. To some, the word may be overused, but the challenges associated with it should not be dismissed. If an on-premise system cannot be easily adapted to accommodate ever-changing technological resources that meet the needs of its users, business budgetary expenses may become prohibitive, much to the chagrin of chief financial officers. The bane of their existence is cost unpredictability, which often tends to be the case with on-premise solutions. Scalability, however, is not an issue with SaaS. Instead of having to deal with more expenses as on-premise systems must do with new users and technologies, SaaS users simply pay a higher fee to cover the increased costs associated with greater numbers of users without worrying about expensive upgrades. Scaling up or down in user numbers is easier to control in the Cloud. Unlike on-premise where a system incurs additional expenses in anticipation of a growing user list that either never materializes or diminishes, SaaS fees can be reduced if the user list falls below previous numbers.
Others merit serious consideration, such as a crash, an on-premise outage that shuts down perhaps hundreds of users. Companies have to prepare by investing in strong back-up system capabilities or paying for a disaster recovery service. Should something similar occur in SaaS—and it rarely does—all data is saved within the Cloud and can be accessed. Second, one of the key SaaS benefits is the speed to market of products and services. Cisco.com cites a statistical report that the SaaS market is projected to grow “to nearly $160 billion in 2020.” One reason is the collaboration it offers to increase the timeline of products to market, which is another example of agile methodology in action. It is much easier to ensure marketability when you have software that can be effortlessly customized, as is the case with SaaS. In line with that benefit are service delivery optimizations built-in to ensure greater performance, fine-tuning, or enhanced controls. Some have used the phrase “plug and play” to describe optimization. One thing is certain—SaaS providers understand their success requires an Agile dynamic.
Addressing Data Privacy
Perhaps the biggest knock on SaaS is the fear that data security is easily compromised in the Cloud. After all, users of SaaS have no say on how the data is stored or what happens in the event that a hacker is able to penetrate. However, as Avalara.com noted, “many of the larger SaaS platforms…have strong security measures in place in their data centers and the risk of something happening is low.” Nonetheless, providers for the most part offer capabilities of adjusting levels of data privacy and authoritative controls to help assure authentication of authorized users.
To counteract that concern, consider these recommendations: implement an encryption system, as there’s no sense in making it easy for would-be hackers; provide a strong authentication security policy; use multiple data backups in different locations; and consult with third-party security firms.
SaaS has the ability to reduce system complexity and maintenance costs. It lowers risk management concerns and expenses by maintaining the core integrity of its applications, a process and technology benefit that also happens to be a core principle of DevOps. The combination of all three has been proven to improve business impact by reducing TCO, driving significant cost savings, and transforming IT for faster achievement of business goals.
Any discussion about all the positives of SaaS is incomplete without acknowledging some of the negatives. No one is arguing that SaaS is the epitome of perfection:
An organization that must control its most sensitive data should maintain governance instead of moving it to the Cloud and potentially exposing it to SaaS providers.
SaaS providers may have automatic upgrades that will increase the annual fee.
A real concern is the inability to access the SaaS due to the rare but occasional Internet outage.
The SaaS positives (benefits) outweigh the negatives, which explains the rapidly growing number of users.
Software Development Life Cycle
Software development life cycle methodology has evolved within the industry from waterfall (linear progression of sequential phases) to Agile and DevOps. Current and future users of SaaS must be constantly aware that this ever-changing technological environment requires speed to market as a competitive edge. SaaS appears to be meeting those needs through three foundational elements: people, process, and technology. Add to the three the powerful combination of close loop continuous integration with agile methodology. Little wonder that predictions of exponential growth from these solutions are proving to be accurate.