The Migration of In-House (IaaS) Server Roles to the Cloud (SaaS) for Dramatic Increases in Efficiency and the Lowering of Costs
The State of Cloud
Over the past 10 years, “the cloud” has become the de facto tool to power how a lot of modern technology companies operate. We have taken for granted compiling a document in Google Docs and have colleagues immediately collaborate on it without having to save and then transfer it to them. As these applications have progressed, we have categorized these cloud-based systems into three main areas: IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS.
What is IaaS?
IaaS or infrastructure as a Service are the building tools to manage servers, networks, operating systems, and data storage. AWS is a good example of how companies can access and store data which aren’t physically on-site and pay for only that which they use.
What is PaaS?
PaaS or platform as a service are services that enable developers to host frameworks where they can build custom applications. It is what it says it is, a platform to create software deliverable over the internet. OpenShift by Red Hat is a good example of how it provides the necessary parts to quickly run a web and application server, application runtimes and libraries, and database services.
What is SaaS?
SaaS or software as a service is a complete software bundle hosted online and is available for purchase on a subscription basis. It is easy to use and manage, highly scalable and doesn’t need to be downloaded or installed. A good example of this is Monday.com which is a collaborative online workspace management system.
IaaS moves to SaaS
Companies are taking their IaaS stack and integrating it into SaaS applications where they continuously host the software and provide constant IT support. This allows for stronger network security, better collaboration, additional features, and upfront pricing. Salesforce is the dominant leader in this space by offering a comprehensive SaaS application built on their own IaaS system. Users don’t need to leave the platform to conduct any IT related fixes and running their own sales applications run smoother across all devices. Another widely used SaaS tool is Slack which runs a collaboration and chat tool for internal messaging, video conferencing, and productivity. The software doesn’t require users to manage IT-related services but manages these processors internally. Vendors are no longer building on-premise software but building their own or acquiring SaaS companies like Salesforce buying Qip or Atlassian buying Trello. SaaS is now the system of record where legacy tools like PeopleSoft and SAP are being replaced with Workday and Namely, financial applications like Sage 300 and Microsoft Dynamics are replaced with NetSuite and Zuora.
The SaaS Shift
The SaaS cloud shift is happening in real time and is set to replace PaaS by 3 times and IaaS by two. 73% of organizations say nearly all their apps will be SaaS by 2020. IT professionals look at these criteria when assessing their move of IaaS server roles to SaaS: cost (69%), security (47%), ease of use (38%), integration (30%), customer support (24%), admin and management capabilities (23%), uptime guarantees (15%), scalability (13%), customizability (12%), data center infrastructure (12%), disaster recovery planning (12%), reporting and analytics (7%), and vendor vision and roadmap (6%).
IT Becomes Manager, Controller, and Executioner of IaaS & SaaS
Yes, this does mean new responsibilities for IT, but SaaS has moved to mission-critical applications and is the core to many businesses. IT has regained control of SaaS applications within IaaS server roles to integrate and customize duties with security wrapped around it. Identities are merged together and centralized and in order to unlock the full value of SaaS, IT must closely involve in the rollout and management of SaaS apps.
IaaS & SaaS Challenges: Delegation
The challenges are abundant but the main criteria facing IT are the delegation of admin privileges as administrators are only given “sufficient” rights to do their job because delegating granular admin rights are cumbersome and impossible at worst. According to CIO, vendors are constantly introducing new permissions which can be difficult to keep up with. With the movement of IaaS server roles to SaaS, more responsibility and admin ownership is passed on to IT professionals who built the systems thereby knowing a lot more about the internal workings of the software and can create permissions based on user requirements.
SaaS External Access
The next challenge is understanding external access. Freelancing is on the rise and managing external access correctly is an increasingly important challenge for IT. Security incidents stemming from negligent and careless employees or contractors are a company’s highest costs. By moving IaaS server roles to SaaS, IT can govern relationships better and control the external impact of known and unknown threats. These threats are more easily managed.
The third challenge and most probably the most immediate for IT are automating repetitive processes across apps. The average onboarding process might take as much as 12 steps to complete whereas offboarding can be much more with at least 28 processes involved. All of these steps can be reduced dramatically with the move to IaaS.
Managing User Assets
The final challenge is managing user assets across apps. With SaaS, there is user management to control such as memberships, calendars, permissions, and files. These processes can easily be securely controlled by IT within the IaaS backbone. Now, consider dozens of apps and hundreds of users within an organization, making managing such issues a huge challenge. Having a managed control over IaaS server roles within a SaaS system lessons the number of tasks that need to be completed and reduces redundancy.
In conclusion, IT needs to adapt and evolve in 3 main areas: roles & responsibilities, processes, and budgets. With SaaS roles & responsibilities, you had a user with decentralized ownership but in order for organizations to achieve cross-company agility, you need someone with an overarching view to optimize at each level which is why the movement of IaaS server roles to SaaS are so important for IT. So, IT value-added capabilities to manage help desk and support, integration skills, procurement, and contract management skills stand out amongst others.
A shift of IaaS server roles to SaaS means managed processes can be more agile and flexible, allowing more informed business decisions to be made from quicker access to data and analytics. This way, operations and employees can be more productive, and customers can have better experiences. IT can support this through automation services thus reducing admin tasks.
Finally, IT budgets can tighten after the digital transformation of IaaS server roles to SaaS as this process will make the IT footprint less expensive.