Cloud Era

When looking to migrate infrastructure or custom software functionality to the cloud the offerings typically looked at are Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). Adopting these offerings is a comfortable choice, as IT departments typically run their own datacentre or private cloud infrastructure and therefore have a natural understanding of the people, process, and technology issues involved.

However, the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) application ecosystem continues to evolve rapidly and for some time has offered domain-specific applications that go far beyond the horizontal E-Mail, CRM, and HRIS applications. Vertical SaaS offerings exist for most major industrial sectors and bring feature sets as diverse as capital planning, construction document management, emergency response planning, and oil well completions to name a few.

Adoption of these offerings can introduce efficiencies and new capabilities to your business, but how to go about adopting SaaS offerings into your business? Consider the following:

  1. Start with systems that can work in isolation from your existing line-of-business applications and impact a small user base within your company. This will allow you to gain experience and develop processes and skills for dealing with issues unique to SaaS. If things go terribly wrong, it is easier to back away from this sort of system, than a system that is integrated deeply into your business.

     

  2. Build and test the processes for de-provisioning users. Whether an employee moves to a new role within your company or is hired by your competitor, you need to be able to remove access in a timely and predictable manner. Vendors are eager to help with the addition of users, but removing users typically correlates to loss of revenue for the vendor. Integration with your corporate directory service (e.g. LDAP or Active Directory) is ideal, but depending on the vendor’s implementation there may be a replication delay involved that can result in a user having access for a period of time after their account is disabled in your directory.

     

  3. Integrate the vendor’s support and training services into your support process. Your processes need to identify when to hand off to the vendor, what the expected resolution time is, and how to escalate if an issue isn’t being resolved in a timely or effective manner.