Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Rostyslav Demush, Liz McMillan, Xenia von Wedel

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo

@CloudExpo: Article

Improving the Business Value of SaaS Applications

Five steps that will make SaaS more adaptive

SaaS Is the King of All
Of all the three models of cloud computing:

  • IaaS
  • PaaS
  • SaaS

SaaS (Software as a Service) is the one that has the most appeal and potential to evoke interest from enterprise CIOs, due to the following reasons:

  • This is the most cost-effective way to deploy new business capability
  • Lower total cost of ownership (TCO)
  • Unmet performance expectations and not meeting the go-to-market pressures with data center-based solutions
  • No maintenance, patching, licensing issues enable the business to concentrate on their core strengths
  • Wide range of choice and healthy competition already in the market and growing
  • Traditional ERP-packaged software is too costly yet not satisfying all the needs of the enterprise

With these in mind, the popularity of SaaS is expected to grow several times in the near future. However, if you are providing a SaaS-based application to your consumer, how best to adapt this is key to winning business. Because no SaaS consumer would like to see that their SaaS solution is not scaling up to changing business needs and they still need to invest in custom in-house solutions.

The following points will help the SaaS application providers make their SaaS application really extensible so that a larger group of consumers can use the same.

1. Provide Ad Hoc and User-Defined Reporting
For a specific set of federal, state-specific compliant reports, no two organizations are going to have the same reporting needs, even if the application's business context (supply chain, purchasing, CRM) are the same. Varied business users, geographic location, organizational score cards and metrics ensure that each organization has its own need for reports.

Developing all the reports needed for every organization using the SaaS application is not feasible. The solution is to provide ad hoc reporting features, so that users can create and define their own reports.

This feature is not new; several of the reporting tools provide user-defined ad hoc reporting as part of their stack.

However, instead of custom developing ‘ad hoc reporting' capabilities within your SaaS application, it is better to link it with another SaaS reporting solution.

For example, if your SaaS application is built on the Microsoft Windows Azure platform, it is easier to offload the ‘ad hoc reporting' to SQL Azure Reporting.

With several features for both ad hoc reporting and custom reporting, SQL Azure Reporting, which will be available shortly, leads the reporting platform on cloud.

2. Enable Business Rules to Make SaaS Flexible Between tenants
A business rule management system (BRMS) enables organizational policies - and the operational decisions associated with those policies, such as claim approvals, cross-sell offer selection, pricing calculations and eligibility determinations - to be defined, deployed, monitored and maintained separately from the application code.

As I explained in a previous article on Private Clouds And Business Rules, Business Rules usage increase the adaptability of the SaaS applications to multiple tenants.

3. Design with Adaptability in Mind
Several major ERP players have designed their software, in a adaptable way, so that the entire way the software runs can be tailored for individual organizations. For example, in Oracle E-Business Suite, flexfields provide an adaptive framework to let any company define the hierarchies specific to them, and yet the overall software works out of a single code base.

A flexfield is made up of sub-fields or segments. A flexfield appears on a ur form as a pop-up window that contains a prompt for each segment. Each segment has a name and a set of valid values.

There are two types of flexfield.

  • Key Flexfield: Key flexfield are flexible enough to let any organization use the code scheme they want without programming. Key flexfield can be used to represent code that is made up of meaningful segment to identify GL a/c Part no. and other business entities. Oracle apps store these codes in key flexfields.
  • Descriptive Flexfield: They provide customizable expansion space on ur forms. You can use desc flex fields to tract additional information important and unique to ur business that would not otherwise be captured by the form.

4. Link Authentication back to Enterprise Directories
The biggest concern for CIOs for SaaS is security. Every organization has invested a lot in their on-boarding mechanisms and employees have been kept in directories. It would be highly adaptable for SaaS applications to offload the authentication to enterprise directories so that the organizations will be more adaptable to using SaaS applications.

Again this can be done easily if you choose the PaaS platform that is used to build the SaaS application carefully. For example, Windows Azure Appfabric Access Control lets you get authenticated against in-premise directories. The following diagram, courtesy of the vendor, shows the authentication of the SaaS application shifted to several on-premise and external authentication providers.

5. Select an Upgrade Friendly PaaS Platform
The less down time an application has or performance impact due to a guest  operating system, upgrades or patches are the best  for the selection of a SaaS application. For that the PaaS platform on which the SaaS application is built holds the key.

Windows Azure guest OS Auto-upgrade feature to help you keep your service running on the latest operating system available for Windows Azure. The platform automatically upgrades your service to use the latest OS whenever it becomes available without you have to worry about it. This helps you keep your service running on the most secure OS available for Windows Azure with no extra effort.

Summary
Enterprises are looking into SaaS to reduce TCO and be  agile to changing business needs , however, they would not  like to get disruptions or   the SaaS application  not have flexibility between  tenant to tenant, choosing the correct PaaS platform and designing the systems with Adaptability  in mind will improve the marketability of the SaaS application.

More Stories By Srinivasan Sundara Rajan

Highly passionate about utilizing Digital Technologies to enable next generation enterprise. Believes in enterprise transformation through the Natives (Cloud Native & Mobile Native).

@CloudExpo Stories
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Vulnerability management is vital for large companies that need to secure containers across thousands of hosts, but many struggle to understand how exposed they are when they discover a new high security vulnerability. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, John Morello, CTO of Twistlock, addressed this pressing concern by introducing the concept of the “Vulnerability Risk Tree API,” which brings all the data together in a simple REST endpoint, allowing companies to easily grasp the severity of the ...
Agile has finally jumped the technology shark, expanding outside the software world. Enterprises are now increasingly adopting Agile practices across their organizations in order to successfully navigate the disruptive waters that threaten to drown them. In our quest for establishing change as a core competency in our organizations, this business-centric notion of Agile is an essential component of Agile Digital Transformation. In the years since the publication of the Agile Manifesto, the conn...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, James Henry, Co-CEO/CTO of Calgary Scientific Inc., introduced you to the challenges, solutions and benefits of training AI systems to solve visual problems with an emphasis on improving AIs with continuous training in the field. He explored applications in several industries and discussed technologies that allow the deployment of advanced visualization solutions to the cloud.
Enterprises are adopting Kubernetes to accelerate the development and the delivery of cloud-native applications. However, sharing a Kubernetes cluster between members of the same team can be challenging. And, sharing clusters across multiple teams is even harder. Kubernetes offers several constructs to help implement segmentation and isolation. However, these primitives can be complex to understand and apply. As a result, it’s becoming common for enterprises to end up with several clusters. Thi...
"NetApp is known as a data management leader but we do a lot more than just data management on-prem with the data centers of our customers. We're also big in the hybrid cloud," explained Wes Talbert, Principal Architect at NetApp, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
While some developers care passionately about how data centers and clouds are architected, for most, it is only the end result that matters. To the majority of companies, technology exists to solve a business problem, and only delivers value when it is solving that problem. 2017 brings the mainstream adoption of containers for production workloads. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ben McCormack, VP of Operations at Evernote, discussed how data centers of the future will be managed, how the p...
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The question before companies today is not whether to become intelligent, it’s a question of how and how fast. The key is to adopt and deploy an intelligent application strategy while simultaneously preparing to scale that intelligence. In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sangeeta Chakraborty, Chief Customer Officer at Ayasdi, provided a tactical framework to become a truly intelligent enterprise, including how to identify the right applications for AI, how to build a Center of Excellence to oper...
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
"Infoblox does DNS, DHCP and IP address management for not only enterprise networks but cloud networks as well. Customers are looking for a single platform that can extend not only in their private enterprise environment but private cloud, public cloud, tracking all the IP space and everything that is going on in that environment," explained Steve Salo, Principal Systems Engineer at Infoblox, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventio...
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
"ZeroStack is a startup in Silicon Valley. We're solving a very interesting problem around bringing public cloud convenience with private cloud control for enterprises and mid-size companies," explained Kamesh Pemmaraju, VP of Product Management at ZeroStack, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"We're focused on how to get some of the attributes that you would expect from an Amazon, Azure, Google, and doing that on-prem. We believe today that you can actually get those types of things done with certain architectures available in the market today," explained Steve Conner, VP of Sales at Cloudistics, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Codigm is based on the cloud and we are here to explore marketing opportunities in America. Our mission is to make an ecosystem of the SW environment that anyone can understand, learn, teach, and develop the SW on the cloud," explained Sung Tae Ryu, CEO of Codigm, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Data scientists must access high-performance computing resources across a wide-area network. To achieve cloud-based HPC visualization, researchers must transfer datasets and visualization results efficiently. HPC clusters now compute GPU-accelerated visualization in the cloud cluster. To efficiently display results remotely, a high-performance, low-latency protocol transfers the display from the cluster to a remote desktop. Further, tools to easily mount remote datasets and efficiently transfer...
High-velocity engineering teams are applying not only continuous delivery processes, but also lessons in experimentation from established leaders like Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook. These companies have made experimentation a foundation for their release processes, allowing them to try out major feature releases and redesigns within smaller groups before making them broadly available. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Lucas, Senior Staff Engineer at Optimizely, discussed how by using ne...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...