Revisiting the Benefits of SaaS

I’ve recently spent some time with Verismic Software (see www.cloudmanagementsuite.com), a company that develops cloud-based IT management technology. As I looked at the value proposition and benefits of the company’s SaaS portfolio – including Cloud Management Suite (CMS), Power Manager, Application Packaging Service and Password reset – I couldn’t help but think back to the evolution of SaaS benefits… benefits that were hardly known and not fully understood just 15 years ago.

Salesforce.com was founded in 1999. Since then SaaS and other forms of cloud computing have matured and become mainstream technologies. While there is still plenty of ongoing IT spending related to on-premises technologies, IT managers and CIOs no longer blink when asked to consider cloud services. In fact, many of them have instructed their organizations to bias spending toward cloud technologies.

Everyone Understand the Benefits of SaaS, right?

It may seem logical that “everyone” in the IT industry today understands the benefits of SaaS. Yet it has become so commonplace that some in the IT industry are actually forgetting many of the challenges created by purchasing and managing software rather than subscribing to SaaS. In other words, I believe that SaaS has become so ingrained with many early adopters that they are forgetting some of its “original” benefits.

Late adopters tell a slightly different tale. While they have been aware of SaaS for many years, they were often the ones that decided against earlier versions of SaaS offerings. As SaaS has evolved, new benefits have emerged and been refined – leaving a gap in understanding for late adopters. “Many SaaS offerings now offer data center redundancy and rapid disaster recovery? Who knew?”

Looking Back at the Benefits of SaaS

Even though I’ve essentially lived within a cloud bubble for the last six and a half years or so, I found myself saying “Oh yeah, this used to be a lot harder before SaaS” and “SaaS offerings have become more capable than ever.”

Here are some of the SaaS benefits I’ve stumbled upon once again when studying the offerings from Verismic:

  • Foundational SaaS benefits have included the many tasks and responsibilities that IT organizations get to avoid by not purchasing licensed software. These apply to most SaaS offerings.
    • Generally no new hardware purchases are needed to get a new SaaS system up and running. If you prefer CapEx to OpEx – and not every organization does – you also get the flexibility of paying as you go, without a huge upfront payment.
    • Without new hardware to deploy, operations teams get to avoid OS and patch installation, tasks that – like ordering the hardware in the first place – can take a lot of time yet not add any differentiated value. They also get to avoid ongoing patch updates.
    • No installation and very little to no system-wide configuration is needed for things like performance, availability, security and scale.
    • Customer-specific configuration is sometimes still required, but SaaS vendors have widely done a good job keep things simple and streamlined.
  • There are also important benefits that don’t fit every type of SaaS offering. These benefits are related more to systems and application management offerings such as those from Verismic Software.
    • Systems under management no longer have to be on the same side of the firewall. Verismic Cloud Management Suite (and some other SaaS management offerings) easily handles its management tasks from outside the customer firewall. Take note late adopters: hybrid IT has arrived – even for SaaS, and even for managing your on-premises systems.
    • Verismic CMS even eliminates the need for agents running on systems within the firewall. Deploying, managing, updating, troubleshooting and patching management agents can be and enormous headache. If your choosing SaaS to manager your on-premises systems, why should you be forced to go back to the dark ages with complex, error-prone agent management?
    • Other capabilities once handled only within the firewall are also enabled. For example, Verismic CMS will discover new and updated systems, keeping inventory straight even when machines get re-imaged and older systems are retired. Verismic Power manager even learns endpoint behaviors with enough detail that it can efficiently perform power management. Yes, SaaS management offerings can handle low level details and keep up with rapidly changing systems.

Summing It Up

By this point it should be obvious why SaaS adoption is still rapidly growing. When compared to equivalent on-premises software functionality, SaaS has advantages related to speed, flexibility, efficiency, CapEX, simplicity and more. At the same time, many current offerings no longer face the limitations of early SaaS offerings.

SaaS is no longer just for managing tables of data, isolated from your other applications and workflows. SaaS can be an integral part of your IT systems and processes – and safely manage hardware and software stacks that still live behind your corporate firewall.

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