Welcome to SaaS thoughts

Whether you call it Software as a Service (SaaS), Managed Service Provider (MSP) or On-Demand Services, your organization uses the service running “in the cloud”. This blog will discuss these services, their benefits, drawbacks and operations. Are we biased? Yes. We believe that some services make sense for most organizations. Email security is one of those. However as Mark Twain said, “All generalizations are false, even this one.” Each Tuesday we will post information and questions about Software as a Service. Occasionally, we will have a "Guest Post" from either a consultant or vendor posting her/his thoughts on Managed Services generally as well as some degree of specificity based on her/his unique perspective. We encourage your insights, comments and feedback. Welcome.


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Blending SaaS with On-Premise Solutions

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Deciding to integrate a SaaS (hosted) solution with on-premise solutions requires additional skills and considerations than sticking with on-premise solutions. After all, the IT department is  accustomed to investigating, deciding on and implementing software running on servers in the server room or co-lo for decades. But, depending on a critical solution “somewhere out there in the cloud” takes an additional cycle of consideration.

Not a new concept

We all depend on some hosted solutions regularly and have for years. The Internet depends on a network of transport services out of both our premise and our control. Who knows where the all the routers and DNS servers are located? Who cares as long as they are available when we need them and they are secure. Yet, we use them as commonly as we use highways to drive to and from work.

SaaS is gaining acceptance

An April, 2009 survey of 850 enterprise users by McKinsey & Co. and the Sandhill Group shows that SaaS has moved into the mainstream. Respondents identified SaaS as the most important technology trend influencing their companies, with 74 percent of enterprise customers saying they are “favorably disposed to adopting SaaS platforms.”

A SaaS service is either a multi-tenant or single-tenant solution on a huge server farm in a secure and redundant location. Many websites run as a SaaS in a server farm the using organization does not own. Services such as Email Security are being accepted more readily than some others.

Example

A friend of mine selling storage solutions related this incident:

A customer had a need to use a high-powered server with over 500GB of storage and a SQL database for a data conversion project. The customer did not have an on-premise server available for the conversion. They could have put up a new server and add 500GB of additional LUNs to their existing SAN. Clearly an expensive solution to a temporary problem. After some checking, they contracted to rent a virtual server in Amazon’s SaaS Data Center. After 6 weeks, the conversion process was over and the customer no longer needed server. Total project cost? $1200.

Concerns

Yes but, trusting your data to some server farm “out there” takes a confidence in availability and security. As a SaaS VAR, we  hear this concern a lot.  “We like to keep everything in house.” Some are concerned over loss of control while others are concerned about data loss. While these are valid questions, a little investigation brings some light to the issues. You should be just as rigorous checking out a SaaS vendor as you are a vendor of an on-premise solution. In addition to the obvious, there are other questions you should ask a potential SaaS vendor. Read our: Ten Questions to ask your SaaS Provider for the list.

Two major reasons

A SaaS provider has bigger pipes, servers, storage and about anything else you can think of than all but the largest enterprises can afford. You pay for what you use; just like a utility bill. Most SaaS providers now offer a flat rate for their services giving you a known cost instead of a periodic large capitalization plus the ongoing administrative and upkeep costs.

We’re also seeing a healthy trend towards Going Green. The more services migrate out from the data center the lower your power and cooling bill. As long as the service provided is available and secure, does it really matter that it is in a rack in your data center? Sometimes, the answer is “Yes”.

Which services

On-Premises

Customized applications, legal requirements and political necessities are all reasons why some servers will stay in a data center. Keep them where they are; in your data center. You have servers doing a multitude of jobs? Keep them healthy.

SaaS

Need a new service? Renewing a subscription for a service? Need to add redundancy? Consider a SaaS version in the decision matrix. No hardware or software to capitalize, probably less administrative effort and a fixed price.

Our 1st principle holds true: Services are more important than Servers. It doesn’t matter where the service is as long as it is secure and available.

Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment.

Want to explore SaaS services? Call us at 770-603-0300 or email at bob@blendedsystems.com



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