Let’s face it …we can’t deny it anymore. The cloud and SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) applications are having a major impact on all our lives. In the enterprise, many applications now live in the cloud, and it’s only the beginning. More and more companies are now ready to turn their IT around, and minimize in-house hosting for their business software. Many already use Salesforce, Highrise, Basecamp, Intaact, Marketo, Google Apps and so many others which all rely on a SaaS model. We all do it because it’s convenient, painless and quick. The instant gratification that SaaS and cloud provides is definitely inviting to most small to medium businesses (SMBs.)
The first thing that comes to mind when having our enterprise data flowing on different cloud infrastructures is privacy and security. Will my data be safe? Will my competitors be able to access my data? Those are the most common fears SMBs face prior to jumping the SaaS fence. These concepts are key and any serious SaaS solution provider out there will have those aspects covered as part of their offering. After all, in most cases your data is your competitive advantage.
Different techniques and mechanisms are typically put in place to have your data private and handled in the most secure manner, starting from your internet web browser, all the way up to a highly secured web hosting facility, where reside the servers on which applications are running. In 2011 and moving forward, privacy and security for most should become a given. The majority of people should’t be afraid anymore to have their data sit and transit in the cloud. In fact, in some cases your data could even be safer while hosted in the cloud than it would be using a typical on-premise deployment, says CloudTimes.
A second aspect, often less considered is the interoperability of applications. You already have your data stored and maintained in an existing enterprise application, on-premise or somewhere in the cloud. Your time is highly valuable and you definitely don’t want to maintain common information across multiple applications. This is why you have to make sure any SaaS application you consider being part of your global strategy, to allow for data interoperability. What this means is that these SaaS offerings must provide the appropriate data exchange interfaces to keep applications synchronized.
Although heterogeneous, common data must be able to flow between applications. Typically, information changed in your master enterprise application should be kept in-sync with other SaaS applications, in a seamless manner. At all costs, you want to avoid having your business data in multiple isolated silos. Any respectful SaaS application provider shall provide a REST or some other type of web service interfaces which allow to push or pull data, in and out of their application, unattended. Make sure these interfaces are open, accessible and documented. This is a critical aspect often overlooked.
In June 2010, Forrester surveyed more than 1,000 enterprise software decision makers and found that software-as-a-service (SaaS) combined with buyers’ desire for solutions that allow them to conserve cash, deploy quickly, and avoid long-term lock-in, is definitely continuing to gain in popularity. In 2011, SaaS is the way to go for many enterprise software implementation opportunities, so be on the lookout for new and great SaaS application offerings tailored for the CG industry, that offer both security and data interoperability.