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SaaS Adoption – Look before you leap

By:  Vilas Prabhu, Enterprise Architect, Hewlett Packard Company

 

cloud and devices.jpgCloud computing, mobility and big data are IT phenomenon that are spreading fast in the world of enterprise IT. Every enterprise wants to factor this new style of IT including Cloud, Mobility and Big Data, into its IT roadmap.

 

So what is this brave new style of IT?  

 

Is it true that in this new style of IT, dedicated IT departments in large enterprises now have to shut shop and CIOs will hand over the IT keys to CEO?

 

Is it true that a business can commandeer any solution from the cloud and there is simply no need for an IT department anymore?

 

Speed, agility and lower costs are basic tenets of this new style of IT. It is facilitated, amongst other things, by the “Software as a service” (SaaS) model for procuring information system software. It is delivery of these enterprise software systems that fails to meet the tenets of the new style of IT. As a result, business executives are looking at the “SaaS” model, which bypasses slow, rigid delivery processes and gets straight into implementation. This allows for quick operational utilisation of the system, where investments start to yield benefits.

 

However it is important to realise that there are different kinds of systems in use within enterprises. Before you decide to adopt the “SaaS” model using a Public Cloud for a system, you must ensure it is a right fit for SaaS adoption.  For a system to be an early adopter of the “SaaS” model, it must show the following characteristics:

 

  1. They are not highly coupled with other systems.  This coupling can be via data, process or technology and can result in disruptions for a wide variety of users. For example, a system can be the source of master data for many other systems (e.g. Customer database), or it can be performing lead transactions for many systems within a mission critical business process (e.g. customer record update transaction in banking), or it can be sharing a technology infrastructure that is used by many other systems which may have ad-hoc integration mechanisms. 
  2. They don’t need strict governance to ensure auditability, traceability of changes and compliance guarantees.  These systems are not critical to provide trust within business operations. They don’t need strict auditability and traceability of changes. The changes need not be formally approved and have no legal implications. Moreover these systems don’t need to certify their behaviour and information in a legally binding way. 
  3. They don’t need a high degree of availability, resilience, recoverability and security. These systems often are not critical for business operations. They can afford to lose data, remain unavailable or be vulnerable to attacks without any business issues or without resulting in any financial or reputational loss.

A system with these characteristics is a great candidate for early “SaaS” adoption using Public Cloud. This does not mean other systems, which are mission critical, cannot adopt “SaaS” model using Public Cloud.  It just means that the mission critical systems would need a careful enterprise architecture lead approach to make sure the transition to “SaaS” is successful.  For mission critical systems it might make more sense either to adopt an infrastructure or platform as a service (IaaS/PaaS) model or to adopt “SaaS” models by first using a Private Cloud.

 

Related links: 

About the Author

 

Vilas Prabhu - cropped.pngVilas Prabhu, Enterprise Architect, Hewlett Packard Company

Vilas is a technology thought leader. He was instrumental in development and implementation of a Model Driven Architecture toolset for many large program engagements.  Vilas currently promotes architecture-led approaches for Enterprise’s Information Systems transformation and sustenance, specifically in the area of analytics and data management.

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