The New SaaS Reality

Michael Vizard
Slide Show

Eight Insights on the True Value of SaaS

Cloud computing and SaaS bring so much more to the table than simple outsourcing.

Most of the moves to embrace software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications come under the heading of tactical. Rather than being acquired as part of a formal IT strategy, most SaaS applications were brought into the organization by business users trying to quickly address a specific need.

IT organizations for the past decade have turned a blind eye to SaaS. But a new report from the Society for Information Management (SIM) finds that there have been a lot more SaaS adoptions than most IT organizations realize, which is creating a strategic imperative for IT managers to find ways to integrate these applications with the rest of the enterprise.

Julie Smith David, director of the Center for Advancing Business through IT, associate professor at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and one of the co-authors of the report, "SaaS, IaaS and PaaS: Realities and Emerging Integration Issues," says that IT organizations are pursuing four primary approaches to accomplishing this task. They include:


Single Sign-on: Relatively easy, this approach focuses on simplifying access management.


Integration-as-a-Service: Typically these services are hosted in the cloud to provide broad support for a range of popular SaaS applications.

Platform-as-a-Service: Most notably, SaaS application providers have opened up their platforms to encourage third-party developers to create applications on top of their platforms.

Middleware Appliances: Deployed by the internal IT organization on premise, these appliances allow the IT organization to more closely manage the middleware stack.

Regardless of the approach, David notes that IT organizations can no longer sit idly by while data continues to not only be distributed, but also unnecessarily duplicated across isolated SaaS applications. The real challenge is coming up with a data management strategy that can be overlaid on these applications using any number of integration approaches.

The reality, notes David, is that SaaS applications were brought into the enterprise because of economic necessity and a general disenchantment with the cost and complexity of internal IT. But now that these SaaS applications are starting to reach a critical mass in the enterprise, David says that what was once seen as "rogue activity" needs to now become a part of the larger, strategic IT plan.

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