Gartner recently made the following prediction about the growth of the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) delivery model for IT solutions:
“Worldwide SaaS sales will eclipse $8.5 billion, up 14.1 percent from 2009 sales of $7.5 billion. More telling, this rapid increase in both customers and SaaS vendors means that on-demand applications will make up a larger percentage of total enterprise software sales this year and for the foreseeable future.” (Forecast Analysis: Software as a Service Worldwide from 2009-2014, July 2010, Gartner)
Challenges with Rapid Growth
There are over 1800 SaaS-based solutions on the market today. Several have become familiar names in corporate settings such as Salesforce.com, NetSuite and Intuit. As these SaaS offerings mature and the benefits become more widely recognized, many more organizations are going to adopt a broad assortment of SaaS and cloud based solutions.
The adoption of these solutions creates a new set of problems that many departmental users are reluctant to recognize. The concern is around governance and the potential risks to the business resulting from a proliferation of SaaS and cloud-based solutions due in part to the ease with which they can be purchased and deployed. There are similarities growing between now and the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, when it seemed every department had their own little app with an Access database or had projects with their own independent web developers. The difference today is that instead of undocumented databases on desktop PCs, you’ve got sensitive corporate data being generated somewhere out in the “cloud”. This proliferation of SaaS and cloud solutions exposes the larger organization to risks around data security, business continuity, access controls, regulatory compliance, contract management, and a host of other issues. In the past, application sprawl was contained within the company’s 4 walls and/or held in the IT budget so you could attempt to manage it. Today with SaaS, it can live out in the cloud and be easier to purchase under the radar.
What’s needed to protect your SaaS?
You need a consolidated governance platform that can efficiently manage all those SaaS and cloud based solutions. Only when you provide consistent policy enforcement and management can you adequately protect your business IP, ensure regulatory compliance, and perform consistently across your customer SLAs. Generally speaking, enforcing governance implies a reduction in usability or convenience, but when a policy-driven governance approach also greatly improves automation and efficiency, you can have your cake and eat it too. Additionally, you can cover not just your SaaS, but also PaaS, IaaS, and internal and external cloud service providers with a governance and management solution that can improve the service delivery lifecycle for each of them.
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