Welcome!

Cloud Expo Authors: Roger Strukhoff, Esmeralda Swartz, Paige Leidig, Elizabeth White, Xenia von Wedel

Related Topics: Open Source, Cloud Expo, Security

Open Source: Blog Feed Post

The Top Five SaaS Risks and How to Mitigate Them

Business and technology leaders alike need to understand and balance both the benefits and the risks of SaaS

By Lonne Jaffe - You may have heard that cloud computing and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) models can turn software technology into a pay-as-you-go utility that businesses can “plug in to” and use like electricity?

Perhaps — however, software technology is far more varied, nuanced and diverse than electricity. You don’t win customers by having better electricity than your competition. Software, by contrast, absolutely is a competitive differentiator for any business today. Companies in industries as varied as retail and finance use software at the very core of their value proposition to customers. It lets them deliver a variety of services to their customers, improve operational efficiencies, create new offerings and a lot more.

That’s not to downplay the business flexibility that SaaS can bring. Being able to “switch on” software and infrastructure delivered as a service for a metered fee can be an attractive alternative to having to build and manage your own IT environments.

However, as with all shiny new things in technology, buyer beware. Business and technology leaders alike need to understand and balance both the benefits and the risks of SaaS. With this in mind, here are five potential risks technology executives should consider about SaaS and some thoughts on how to manage them.

  1. SaaS Can Have Hidden Costs. The SaaS model typically involves pay-as-you-go, or term-based licensing, in which your organization pays monthly or annual fees based on some metrics (number of seats, number of queries, amount of data, etc.). There are certainly many situations in which this is more attractive than investing in servers, software licenses and IT manpower up front. The ability to keep cash on the balance sheet and to pay for software as it’s consumed (“by the drink,” as it were) can be helpful. For a growing business, the SaaS model lets you start small and scale up as the business becomes more successful over time. That said, don’t mistake this for “cheaper.” SaaS is not always cheaper, especially when factoring in the cost of learning and managing a new environment, and the often considerable effort of moving existing technology workloads onto a new SaaS platform. Make sure you consider all of these costs when you’re evaluating the total cost of ownership of a SaaS initiative.

  2. SaaS Can Introduce Bandwidth Issues. Moving to a cloud-based app can have a tremendous impact on your network infrastructure. There are circumstances where the data is so massive that it has a sort of “gravity” to it. The amount of data that can be transmitted over the Internet and the reliability of the network connections have improved dramatically, but it’s still difficult to move these large pools of data over the public Internet . Because of this, companies might find they need to have their compute power located physically close to the data to get the scalability and performance essential for high-profile, enterprise-grade systems.

  3. SaaS Can Accelerate the Rogue Cloud. SaaS can empower more tech-savvy business users, but it also encourages rogue software purchases. All it takes is a corporate credit card, and the business user is off and running with a new SaaS application, sometimes without consulting the technology leadership in the business. Of course, as my colleague Andi Mann has written about, this is not necessarily a bad thing and can be used to encourage skunk works innovation. But at the end of the day, the CIO remains responsible for the security, management and performance of the overall technology infrastructure. The breakdown in coordination caused by the rogue cloud adds complexity and risk to the job. I recommend investing in third-party software that helps CIOs: manage the performance of the SaaS applications; select ideal vendors based on price, performance, capability and quality of service; and secure the applications and data now seeping outside of the enterprise’s four walls.

  4. SaaS Requires a New Take on Security. The old perimeter model of walling off the data center to keep the bad guys out simply doesn’t work in a world where IT infrastructure and applications increasingly reside on public, private and hybrid clouds. When your data and compute power are scattered across the Internet, you can’t put a walled perimeter around it to keep it safe because there’s nothing concrete to put a wall around. A better paradigm: use “identity” as the new perimeter. Wherever data and applications reside, they can be locked down and secured using sophisticated identity and access management solutions that continuously evaluate and manage who is accessing systems and data. And advanced data-level encryption can be used to ensure that data— whether at rest or in motion— can’t be read by the bad guys.

  5. SaaS Has a Blindside. SaaS service providers do offer insight into the performance of their applications and platforms, but in many cases, their management capabilities are not good enough. As your organization increases its dependence on outside software resources, visibility into your technology environment’s performance could suffer. Look for management software that can help you monitor and proactively manage these critical SaaS applications across both cloud and non-cloud environments.

Businesses are reaping tremendous benefits from the use of SaaS services for a wide variety of applications, and the use of SaaS will only grow with time. Yes, it can be cheaper, faster, and more flexible than in-house implementations. But like everything else in life, SaaS is not without risks and needs a well-informed approach coupled with next-generation management and security software to ensure the benefits and mitigate the risks.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Denise Dubie

Denise Dubie (@DDubie) is New Media Principal in CA Technologies Thought Leadership Group. She is charged with creating content relevant to today’s most pressing technology and business trends for industry leaders and IT professionals.

Prior to joining the company in 2010, Dubie spent 12 years of her career at Network World, an IDG company, covering the IT management industry and all of its players (including CA Technologies and its competitors) as well as high-tech careers, technology trends and vendors such as Cisco, HP, IBM and Microsoft. As Senior Editor at Network World, Dubie also authored the publication's twice-weekly Network and Systems Management Alert newsletter and contributed to the Web site's Microsoft Subnet blog. Before IDG, she served as Assistant Managing Editor at Application Development Trends, managing writers and the monthly publication's production process.

Dubie started her professional journalism career as a Staff Writer/Reporter at The Transcript, a small daily paper in Western Massachusetts.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Cloud Expo Breaking News
The revolution that happened in the server universe over the past 15 years has resulted in an eco-system that is more open, more democratically innovative and produced better results in technically challenging dimensions like scale. The underpinnings of the revolution were common hardware, standards based APIs (ex. POSIX) and a strict adherence to layering and isolation between applications, daemons and kernel drivers/modules which allowed multiple types of development happen in parallel without hindering others. Put simply, today's server model is built on a consistent x86 platform with few surprises in its core components. A kernel abstracts away the platform, so that applications and daemons are decoupled from the hardware. In contrast, networking equipment is still stuck in the mainframe era. Today, networking equipment is a single appliance, including hardware, OS, applications and user interface come as a monolithic entity from a single vendor. Switching between different vendor'...
Next-Gen Cloud. Whatever you call it, there’s a higher calling for cloud computing that requires providers to change their spots and move from a commodity mindset to a premium one. Businesses can no longer maintain the status quo that today’s service providers offer. Yes, the continuity, speed, mobility, data access and connectivity are staples of the cloud and always will be. But cloud providers that plan to not only exist tomorrow – but to lead – know that security must be the top priority for the cloud and are delivering it now. In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, Kurt Hagerman, Chief Information Security Officer at FireHost, will detail why and how you can have both infrastructure performance and enterprise-grade security – and what tomorrow's cloud provider will look like.
The social media expansion has shown just how people are eager to share their experiences with the rest of the world. Cloud technology is the perfect platform to satisfy this need given its great flexibility and readiness. At Cynny, we aim to revolutionize how people share and organize their digital life through a brand new cloud service, starting from infrastructure to the users’ interface. A revolution that began from inventing and designing our very own infrastructure: we have created the first server network powered solely by ARM CPU. The microservers have “organism-like” features, differentiating them from any of the current technologies. Benefits include low consumption of energy, making Cynny the ecologically friendly alternative for storage as well as cheaper infrastructure, lower running costs, etc.
Cloud backup and recovery services are critical to safeguarding an organization’s data and ensuring business continuity when technical failures and outages occur. With so many choices, how do you find the right provider for your specific needs? In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, Daniel Jacobson, Technology Manager at BUMI, will outline the key factors including backup configurations, proactive monitoring, data restoration, disaster recovery drills, security, compliance and data center resources. Aside from the technical considerations, the secret sauce in identifying the best vendor is the level of focus, expertise and specialization of their engineering team and support group, and how they monitor your day-to-day backups, provide recommendations, and guide you through restores when necessary.
Web conferencing in a public cloud has the same risks as any other cloud service. If you have ever had concerns over the types of data being shared in your employees’ web conferences, such as IP, financials or customer data, then it’s time to look at web conferencing in a private cloud. In her session at 14th Cloud Expo, Courtney Behrens, Senior Marketing Manager at Brother International, will discuss how issues that had previously been out of your control, like performance, advanced administration and compliance, can now be put back behind your firewall.
Cloud scalability and performance should be at the heart of every successful Internet venture. The infrastructure needs to be resilient, flexible, and fast – it’s best not to get caught thinking about architecture until the middle of an emergency, when it's too late. In his interactive, no-holds-barred session at 14th Cloud Expo, Phil Jackson, Development Community Advocate for SoftLayer, will dive into how to design and build-out the right cloud infrastructure.
More and more enterprises today are doing business by opening up their data and applications through APIs. Though forward-thinking and strategic, exposing APIs also increases the surface area for potential attack by hackers. To benefit from APIs while staying secure, enterprises and security architects need to continue to develop a deep understanding about API security and how it differs from traditional web application security or mobile application security. In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, Sachin Agarwal, VP of Product Marketing and Strategy at SOA Software, will walk you through the various aspects of how an API could be potentially exploited. He will discuss the necessary best practices to secure your data and enterprise applications while continue continuing to support your business’s digital initiatives.
You use an agile process; your goal is to make your organization more agile. What about your data infrastructure? The truth is, today’s databases are anything but agile – they are effectively static repositories that are cumbersome to work with, difficult to change, and cannot keep pace with application demands. Performance suffers as a result, and it takes far longer than it should to deliver on new features and capabilities needed to make your organization competitive. As your application and business needs change, data repositories and structures get outmoded rapidly, resulting in increased work for application developers and slow performance for end users. Further, as data sizes grow into the Big Data realm, this problem is exacerbated and becomes even more difficult to address. A seemingly simple schema change can take hours (or more) to perform, and as requirements evolve the disconnect between existing data structures and actual needs diverge.
SYS-CON Events announced today that SherWeb, a long-time leading provider of cloud services and Microsoft's 2013 World Hosting Partner of the Year, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 14th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 10–12, 2014, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. A worldwide hosted services leader ranking in the prestigious North American Deloitte Technology Fast 500TM, and Microsoft's 2013 World Hosting Partner of the Year, SherWeb provides competitive cloud solutions to businesses and partners around the world. Founded in 1998, SherWeb is a privately owned company headquartered in Quebec, Canada. Its service portfolio includes Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, Dynamics CRM and more.
The world of cloud and application development is not just for the hardened developer these days. In their session at 14th Cloud Expo, Phil Jackson, Development Community Advocate for SoftLayer, and Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, will pull back the curtain of the architecture of a fun demo application purpose-built for the cloud. They will focus on demonstrating how they leveraged compute, storage, messaging, and other cloud elements hosted at SoftLayer to lower the effort and difficulty of putting together a useful application. This will be an active demonstration and review of simple command-line tools and resources, so don’t be afraid if you are not a seasoned developer.
SYS-CON Events announced today that BUMI, a premium managed service provider specializing in data backup and recovery, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 14th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 10–12, 2014, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. Manhattan-based BUMI (Backup My Info!) is a premium managed service provider specializing in data backup and recovery. Founded in 2002, the company’s Here, There and Everywhere data backup and recovery solutions are utilized by more than 500 businesses. BUMI clients include professional service organizations such as banking, financial, insurance, accounting, hedge funds and law firms. The company is known for its relentless passion for customer service and support, and has won numerous awards, including Customer Service Provider of the Year and 10 Best Companies to Work For.
Chief Security Officers (CSO), CIOs and IT Directors are all concerned with providing a secure environment from which their business can innovate and customers can safely consume without the fear of Distributed Denial of Service attacks. To be successful in today's hyper-connected world, the enterprise needs to leverage the capabilities of the web and be ready to innovate without fear of DDoS attacks, concerns about application security and other threats. Organizations face great risk from increasingly frequent and sophisticated attempts to render web properties unavailable, and steal intellectual property or personally identifiable information. Layered security best practices extend security beyond the data center, delivering DDoS protection and maintaining site performance in the face of fast-changing threats.
From data center to cloud to the network. In his session at 3rd SDDC Expo, Raul Martynek, CEO of Net Access, will identify the challenges facing both data center providers and enterprise IT as they relate to cross-platform automation. He will then provide insight into designing, building, securing and managing the technology as an integrated service offering. Topics covered include: High-density data center design Network (and SDN) integration and automation Cloud (and hosting) infrastructure considerations Monitoring and security Management approaches Self-service and automation
In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, David Holmes, Vice President at OutSystems, will demonstrate the immense power that lives at the intersection of mobile apps and cloud application platforms. Attendees will participate in a live demonstration – an enterprise mobile app will be built and changed before their eyes – on their own devices. David Holmes brings over 20 years of high-tech marketing leadership to OutSystems. Prior to joining OutSystems, he was VP of Global Marketing for Damballa, a leading provider of network security solutions. Previously, he was SVP of Global Marketing for Jacada where his branding and positioning expertise helped drive the company from start-up days to a $55 million initial public offering on Nasdaq.
Performance is the intersection of power, agility, control, and choice. If you value performance, and more specifically consistent performance, you need to look beyond simple virtualized compute. Many factors need to be considered to create a truly performant environment. In his General Session at 14th Cloud Expo, Marc Jones, Vice President of Product Innovation for SoftLayer, will explain how to take advantage of a multitude of compute options and platform features to make cloud the cornerstone of your online presence.