Important SaaS Development Platform Checklist
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An effective SaaS development platform is potentially capable of transforming the way IT departments relate to or view their role as computing service providers to the rest of the enterprise. SaaS has emerged as an effective software delivery mechanism, creating an opportunity for these departments to shift their focus from application deployment and support to managing the services provided by those applications.
In turn, a successful service-centric IT will be able to directly produce more value for the business by offering services that not only draw from internal and external sources, but also align with business goals.
Important SaaS Development Platform Checklist
1.The SaaS Continua
Typically, a pure form of SaaS is when a provider hosts a SaaS application (centrally), delivering instant access to multiple clients over the internet for a fee. Practically, however, the distinctive or defining characteristics between the traditional on-premise application and today’s SaaS application are not binary – they are graduated along the following dimensions: software licensing, its location and management, and each of these characteristics can be visualized as a continuum (with each application at different ends but with additional options in between to combine both aspects.)
Licensing: Licensing, which on-premise application users pay licensing costs in perpetuity, usually with an initial upfront cost per user or site, is different in SaaS. SaaS applications are mostly licensed with a usage-based transaction model (i.e. the clients are only billed based on the number of service transactions they use). In between, however, is the time-based subscription model (the client pays a flat fee per seat for a certain time period – which could be monthly, quarterly or annually, allowing the customer unlimited use during that period.)
Location: The SaaS hoster’s location is where SaaS applications are installed. The appliance model comes in between to allow the vendor to supply a hardware/software component installed at your location as a “black box.” A typical example of an appliance would be a device including a logistics app with a cached and a database that is updated periodically. This allows a shipping company, for example, to provide a device to its clients to allow them query the device for relevant shipping information, rather than crowding the company’s server with tens of thousands of individual queries per day.
Management: Traditionally, it is the IT department’s responsibility to provide IT services to users: becoming familiar with server, network and application platforms; offering support and troubleshooting; and even resolving issue of IT security, performance, reliability and availability problems. SaaS applications, on the other hand, are completely under the vendor / hoster’s management. The implementation of tasks and responsibilities of the management is opaque to the client. However, Service-level Agreements (SLAs) will govern the quality and availability, as well as the support commitments the vendor makes to the subscriber.
2. How Does SaaS Affect IT
After making the decision to pursue SaaS, the next step for an enterprise would be to prepare adequately for the transition by performing a quick assessment on how the deployment would affect existing IT assets. Taking these steps will ensure the transition is handled smoothly. Therefore, performing due diligence is not only a routine, but also an integral part of a successful IT infrastructure deployment project. So you need to be familiar with the basics. Your due diligence SaaS development platform checklist should include:
Data-security standards: When moving critical business data to the cloud, it increases the risk of data loss and inadvertent exposure of critical/sensitive information. The provider should have measures that meet the standards set by the consumer.
SLA guarantees: SLA, as already discussed, guarantees the level of performance and availability, as well as security provided by the SaaS vendor. Ensure the SLAs are in place, with guarantees sufficient to meet the client’s needs.
Migration strategies: Later on, a customer might want to migrate from SaaS to another solution, so he should be able to take the existing data out of the SaaS application and move it. Therefore, the SaaS provider should have a platform that provides data migration strategies.
In-house integration requirements: Migration to SaaS should meet any functional as well as data-integration requirements that a customer’s organization has put in place.
Reporting services: Since SaaS involves the customer giving up direct control of his data, useful and accurate reporting is very important. The consumer will find out the reporting services offered by the provider, and their compatibility with his business-intelligence requirements.
3. The Effects on IT Roles/ Responsibilities
Introducing SaaS to the typical enterprise IT mix could cause a significant shift in the IT department’s roles, especially as vendors of information services. Business units are sometimes accused of being afraid of change. Unlike in the past where the nature of software deployment placed CIOs into the role of gatekeepers to exercise a veto over proposed software deployment, a SaaS option offers a different approach. Control of the critical data center does not equal control over an entire enterprise-computing environment, possibly causing a fear of loss of control on the gatekeepers’ side.
Of course, CIOs with governance issues are the ones who rely upon data center control to manage the computing environment. Successful CIOs, on the other hand, actively engage with business units, educating them on the impact of particular purchases on future agility. They also work with them to establish if an on-premise or a SaaS application is better placed to meet their needs. By taking this consulting role, the IT department could add significant value directly to a business enterprise by matching business units with technology.
4. Impact on Regulatory Compliance
SAS 70, an international auditing standard, requires businesses that offer services to other businesses to provide an independent, reliable and trustworthy account of their internal control practices. Note that this is not a law, but an auditing standard. SaaS development platform should factor in the impact of the SaaS application on regulatory compliance, such as the one described above. Due diligence requires that a consumer should request a SAS 70 compliance report from a SaaS provider, examine it thoroughly for compliance with own internal standards for data security, privacy, and more, before selecting the most appropriate provider.
Flexibility and risk-management implications of introducing SaaS to an enterprise’s portfolio of IT services are some of the crucial considerations. SaaS development platform checklist includes a number of factors: the impact of SaaS applications on IT, IT roles and responsibilities, as well as the impact on regulatory compliance, and so on, and all these play an important role in successful deployment.
Published at DZone with permission of Omri Erel, DZone MVB. See the original article here.
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