What to Watch Out For
Although SaaS tools can be leveraged to achieve a wide variety of business and operational benefits, they don't constitute a "free lunch" for your IT organisation. Large-scale adoption of such products will create new challenges, some of which are listed below.
1. From your users' perspective, you are still responsible for application performance.
2. Application enhancements are no longer under your control.
3. You must retire legacy applications to achieve the true financial benefits of SaaS.
4. You must differentiate true security liabilities from security phobias.
Double Standards for SaaS
Although reliability and security are chronically cited as the most significant impediments to SaaS adoption, discussions of SaaS reliability and security are almost always conducted on an absolute basis and not a net basis. During the course of any given fiscal year, every IT organisation experiences outages of its business-critical and business-essential applications to one degree or another. When SaaS alternatives to existing on-premise applications are being considered, the reliability of the SaaS alternative is rarely, if ever, discussed relative to the current reliability of a company's on-premise application suite.
What Will Happen Next?
SaaS tools are just one element - albeit an important one - of the cloud computing transformation that is sweeping across the IT industry. As part of this transformation, IT executives are abandoning the "own and operate" management paradigm that has dominated our industry for the past 50 years and are moving toward a new management framework built around brokering and integrating services. SaaS capabilities are a critical and essential element of this new framework. Early SaaS adopters will be a step ahead of their competitors in realising the full benefits of cloud computing as this transformation continues.
Mark Settle is chief information officer, BMC Software.
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