Software as a Service, or SaaS, is being embraced by businesses across all industries and from all corners of the world. However, organisations must be aware of the risks of moving to the cloud, as well as the opportunities.
Advantages of SaaS
There are many benefits of Software as a Service (SaaS) such as elasticity, expertise and usage-linked costs, all of which are becoming increasingly well-known in business. Gone are the days when the words ‘cloud computing’ would be followed by radio silence and confusion in the boardroom. Instead, business owners are now looking to actively embrace cloud and explore all it has to offer.
The SaaS model can be adapted to benefit any industry. It offers a flexible, accessible and scalable way of working, enabling companies to significantly improve efficiency and productivity. SaaS applications can be particularly valuable when it comes to HR management, customer services, procurement and facilitating internal collaboration by enabling employees to update and share documents in real-time.
But the benefits of SaaS extend further from the use of the applications. The rapid rate at which it can be implemented means that it causes little disruption – a business could be up and running with its SaaS service within a few hours, with employees trained to use it the same day. It also requires no man-power to install and no additional hardware investment, meaning that it helps to keep costs down.
Risks to overcome
Although there are many obvious benefits to embracing SaaS, these can become insignificant if a business fails to acknowledge the risks associated with trusting a third-party cloud provider with its business-critical applications and data.
These risks come in a number of different forms ranging from a data breach, where data in the cloud is accessed by cyber criminals and may be stolen or altered in some way, to the sudden loss of critical applications if something goes wrong at the SaaS provider’s end.
If ignored, these risks can quickly become very real and can even lead to the worst case scenario for any business – being unable to perform vital day-to-day tasks leading to long-term disruption and the reputational damage that can be experienced as a result.
The severity of these threats highlights the importance of good cloud practices – but given the responsibility for mitigating the risks lies predominately with the provider, it can sometimes be difficult for businesses to know what to do.
Creating a safety net
Since SaaS providers are subject to the same stresses and strains as any organisation, you need to be confident that the critical applications and software you are trusting them with will remain accessible if they run into any technical or financial difficulties.
Therefore, in order to be safe in the cloud, it’s important to carefully scrutinise any SaaS package, including contingency plans, during initial conversations with cloud providers. Although this may sound overly cautious to some, it can be the difference between efficiency savings and a disaster.
Any good provider should offer services to protect their business users from commercial failure and I would advise all businesses to demand a contingency plan as part of any SaaS package, and make sure that the contingency plan is robust and dependable if it is ever called upon. This is standard practice amongst reputable providers but should always be reviewed and double checked as it is in an integral part of business continuity planning.
By taking the time in the first instance to ensure these contingency measures are in place, companies of all sizes are able to fully embrace what SaaS has to offer, while being safe in the knowledge that the applications and data they need on a daily basis will remain accessible and functional, no matter what.