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On-Premises to SaaS: What to Expect when Making the Switch

December 2, 2015 No Comments

Featured article by Greg Keller, JumpCloud’s Chief Product Officer

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions are dramatically changing modern information technology. The rapid adoption of SaaS and IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) is among many other internet-based services that are challenging the traditional on-premises model – a model that is predicated on total ownership (and management) of infrastructure. IT teams are now well versed in cost models supporting the movement of once-on-premises managed infrastructure, and have more time to spend fixing deeper business problems rather than addressing management overhead. Still, many have yet to begin this seemingly imminent migration.

There’s a range of questions and variables to consider when moving to the cloud: What is driving the move? Does utilizing SaaS/IaaS make companies more agile? Are they able to scale better? Do they gain better and more performance? Is SaaS more secure? Most importantly to many companies: does the transition save money? Depending on the state of the technology and the complexity of operations, the answer to all of these questions can be a strong yes.

In this article, we’ll focus on a popular movement to the cloud: applications and services, otherwise known as SaaS.

Gartner defines SaaS as “software that is owned, delivered and managed remotely by one or more providers. The provider delivers software based on one set of common code and data definitions that is consumed in a one-to-many model by all contracted customers at any time on a pay-for-use basis or as a subscription based on use metrics.”

SaaS apps run in the cloud because they are a leased software maintained by the creator and not hosted on user premises. The model leverages the ubiquity of the Internet to access the service versus having a client installed on a specific computing device configured to talk to specific data managed internally. The ‘access anywhere’ model was the first of many powerful waves of productivity the innovation brought to the industry. Generally speaking, SaaS has transformed many stalwart applications and services that many once thought could never leave the premises, including core collaboration tools (email and chat), customer relationship management, human resource management, billing and finance systems and more. Additionally, mobility (remote workers and mobile/small form factor devices themselves) has validated the absolute need for web-based services and true ‘access anywhere/anytime’ capabilities.

Flexibility

The number one benefit of cloud-based programs and SaaS is the added flexibility and agility provided to the company and its employees. One value inherent to SaaS is providing infinite flexibility for employees and their ability to choose when, where and how to access a service. This generally boils down to the device accessing the app and the ability to translate into the form-factor of the device. In addition, HTML5 and mobile-friendly responsive designs have alleviated the pains once associated with trying to use an app consistently across desktops, laptops and mobile devices.

Performance

In decades past, the installation and configuration of an application was only the beginning of seemingly endless challenges. SLAs (Service Level Agreements) were critical to ensure a company could depend upon an application. Therefore, IT teams were tasked with uptime, availability, failover and minimizing maintenance windows. The movement to the cloud for SaaS needs all but effectively removed these chores from already overworked IT teams. Application updates, scaling/elasticity, regionality for performance and built in localization were more than enough reasons to offload application ownership to leased services in the cloud.

Security

There are effectively two use cases faced by companies desiring a move to the cloud. The first is concern that SaaS applications managed by third parties will not adequately protect data. The second is uncertainty around preparedness to move infrastructure to a co-located cloud or third party cloud provider, and whether or not it will be as or more secure than the on-premises alternatives. In both circumstances, the security capabilities have radically improved. Third party vendors are often deeply security-focused as they must ensure business continuity, and an event that exposes customer information via social engineering or direct data access could compromise them enough to end their business. SaaS vendors are typically very forward with their security postures and compliance levels. Similarly, models for securely running infrastructure remotely have evolved substantially. IT system administrators and DevOps teams have some of the most advanced software to deploy, and manage access to remote infrastructure both for monitoring the transactions as well as securely guarding and managing user access.

Cost-Effectiveness

For many organizations, the move to SaaS and a cloud-based system is a simple decision because of the costs associated. With SaaS, a company pays only for what’s necessary – no need to purchase hardware to host new applications, and they can easily scale to accommodate future growth. The vendor provides the APIs and does most of the work to get the software set up, eliminating the need to use internal resources. IT generally doesn’t want to help install and operate a sales app, so when it comes to funding and implementing, SaaS can save companies both time and money in both the short and long term.

The takeaway for companies considering making the switch from on-premises to SaaS or cloud-based hosting: If your organization is utilizing technology and has adequate operations to support a transition, it’s a very cost-effective, secure and performance-oriented choice. The cloud is the way of the future, and on-premises may be quickly phased out as more companies continue to recognize cloud benefits.

Keller Headshot 150x150 On Premises to SaaS: What to Expect when Making the Switch

Greg is JumpCloud’s Chief Product Officer, overseeing the product management team, product vision and go-to-market execution for the company’s Directory-as-a-Service (DaaS) offering. The SaaS-based platform re-imagines Active Directory and LDAP for the cloud era, securely connecting and managing employees, their devices and IT applications.

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