Moving to SaaS or Cloud: Look Out for the Detail Devils

Loraine Lawson

SaaS integration isn’t the big obstacle to adoption it used to be. In fact, there are a number of ways to options for addressing the problem.

Still, it can be costly to just assume integration will be no biggie. The devil’s in the details, warns Sean McDermott, CEO of Windward IT Solutions, an IT service management and systems engineering firm, in a recent TechTarget article.

And those details can cost you: Moving SaaS apps can range from $80,000 to $100,000, due to customized integration requirements, McDermott said.

TechTarget recently revisited SaaS integration problems, interviewing McDermott and others about some of the problems and misconceptions organizations have about connecting data with SaaS apps.

Another popular misconception discussed in the article: You won’t need developers if you move to SaaS.

As I mentioned, there are a number of vendors that support integration with various SaaS apps, but what’s important to remember is the options can be very specific to applications. If your enterprise application or SaaS provider isn’t supported, well, then you maybe need to pay for more customized integration.

Even investing in an integration solution or platform doesn’t mean you can just hand over the integration to anyone.

It takes skills to manage many of these platforms, particularly if you’re working with complex ERP systems. That’s why almost all of the main integration vendors offer something I like to call “training.”

Writer Beth Pariseau spoke with IT directors and consultants who encountered problems with integrating SaaS, and each took a different approach to solving the challenge. That makes the article a good resource for those trying to work through their own integration headaches.

But integration isn’t the only issue that comes with cloud solutions. If you’re looking at cloud computing, rather than SaaS, you should also read ZapThink’s recent piece on inconsistent data.

Here’s the little devil hidden in the details with cloud computing: Most cloud providers promise consistency mumble, mumble. That sounds awesome, until you realize that  “mumble, mumble” means “eventually,” as in “not immediate consistency.”

That’s because cloud computing uses “provisioning of multiple physical partitions as needed to provide elastic capacity,” explains Jason Bloomberg, president of ZapThink.

In other words, your data may be inconsistent for short periods of time, especially when your app is experiencing peak load. It may only be a matter of seconds for the issue to resolve, but in the meantime, customers are placing orders for products that aren’t available. You’re charging their credit cards and all they get for their money is an error page.

You can see why that might trigger a fit from management. The piece goes on to discuss how BASE principles can help you cope with the problem, without abandoning the cloud.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Oct 4, 2012 2:40 AM PJ Morse PJ Morse  says:
Good article and proves Cost, Value, Risk for decision making is still crucial for making cloud migration decisions. Some types of migrations will be easier and more straight forward than others, but people need to provide detailed answers to, 1. What is this migration really going to cost? 2. What is the accurate and true value to the business? 3. What are the risks if we do it or don't do it? Honestly addressing these 3 simple areas will quickly highlight any problems even before you get started. Reply

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