Jan 07, 2020

MythBusters: SaaS Edition

Karthik Pinnamaneni
MythBusters: SaaS Edition

In the numerous customer meetings I’ve participated in over the last few years, I kept hearing the same set of words, “we have a cloud-first IT strategy.” According to the latest IDC predictions, public cloud spending will grow from $229 billion in 2019 to $500 billion in 2023. More than half of this spend will be on Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications. More and more enterprises are leveraging SaaS as their preferred choice for cloud adoption. This spending on SaaS applications has led to a large surge in SaaS providers attempting to capitalize on this booming market trend.

SaaS has origins in the 1960s, but companies like Salesforce have pioneered in this space in recent times. The new breed of SaaS providers fundamentally changed the customer experience by providing a way for customers to extract business value from applications without the painstaking task of managing and maintaining the infrastructures that host these applications. SaaS providers took on the responsibility of hosting these applications and the associated customer data while simplifying the process for the customers to procure, consume and scale to meet their business demands. SaaS providers had to innovate multi-tenant architectures and build them scratch to provide this enhanced experience to customers.

However, in an effort to make themselves relevant and attach themselves to the booming trend, legacy software and hardware vendors have started to package and market their products as a SaaS solution. Making this transition requires a rebuild of the architecture as, unfortunately, you can’t be born as a cat and die as a dog. There are no short cuts. These makeshift offerings become more complex and expensive than the customer had hoped for or need. A service that is built from the ground up is the only way to provide an #AuthenticSaaS experience to the customers. With that in mind, here are a few myths that customers need to be aware of when evaluating SaaS solutions.

Myth # 1: Subscription equates to SaaS

Often, vendors position a software subscription scheme as a SaaS solution. The procurement of both solutions might look and feel the same, but with software subscriptions, the customer is responsible for deploying and managing the software. If the vendor is asking the customer to spin up any infrastructure on-prem or in the cloud to host their software, then it’s not a SaaS solution.

Myth # 2: SaaS solutions require extensive time to design, manage and maintain

The whole purpose of SaaS is to NOT have the customer be responsible for any of these tasks. The SaaS solution should require minimal to no sizing (i.e., how many users/seats/VMs). Customers can register and onboard themselves to the service with a minimal set of actions. The SaaS provider is 100% responsible for the infrastructure and its daily management (including, but not limited to, hardening and regular upgrades).

Myth # 3: All SaaS solutions are readily scalable

If there is a waiting period (days or months) before the customer can scale on a vendor’s SaaS platform, think twice. Instant scalability is a core feature of a multi-tenant SaaS architecture. The architecturally sound SaaS solutions scale with a customer’s business needs and without any caveats. The customer should be able to start with 1 unit (user/seat/VM) of consumption and scale to 1000s as their business scales.

Myth 4: SaaS support is like infrastructure support: 100% reactive

Customers spend a significant amount of time opening reactive tickets for problems they encounter related to the legacy software and/or hardware solution. This shouldn’t be the same experience with SaaS. Since SaaS providers have an end-to-end view of the solution, they should be proactively providing customers with insights into failures and remediating them without customer intervention. Customers can use these time savings towards meaningful business impacting tasks.

Beware of #WannabeSaaS vendors. If they are telling the customers any of the above myths, it is not SaaS as it is intended to be. To find out more about how Clumio backup as a service provides an #AuthenticSaaS experience to customers, read Woon and Justin’s blogs.