As more and more businesses are moving online, cloud is gaining relevance. However, often without the information or expertise on how to control the cloud, businesses are running the risk of cloud sprawling.
Cloud Sprawl, as defined by Techopedia is “the uncontrolled proliferation of an organization’s cloud instances or cloud presence. It happens when an organization inadequately controls, monitors and manages its different cloud instances, resulting in numerous individual cloud instances which may then be forgotten but continue to use up resources or incur costs since most organizations use pay for public cloud services.”
However, before we get to understand how to prevent or control cloud sprawling we must first understand how cloud works, what challenges you face without the required information, and subsequently how SaaS-based platforms can deliver the required results for your organization.
Cloud-computing helps you, as an organization, to use the internet as your ‘go-to place’ for all your IT infrastructural needs using a web browser. It enables information to be accessed across the organization to build some sense of universal connectivity. SaaS, though similar, takes over the management of this cloud ; while letting you focus on your development of products and services through a web browser with no physical installation needed.
Software as a Service (SaaS) integration and clouds are leading to the increased use of the Internet of Things (IoT). Many organizations are recognizing the need for IoT to save cost and build new revenue streams. However, before we get ahead of ourselves, it is first important to understand the types of clouds that exist; namely, private cloud, public cloud, and hybrid cloud.
Determining which type of cloud is best for you will largely depends on the kind of business you run. If you are the kind of organization that wants to go public, a public cloud is best suited for you. Apart from being fairly cheap, it also gives you agility. On the other hand, if security is a major concern for your business, then private cloud may be the answer.
Different Clouds to the Rescue
Private clouds provide you the ability to have compliance checks and higher levels of control over the information in the cloud. Private cloud, on the other hand, comes with the disadvantage of being expensive, and restrictive in terms of the speed at which you can innovate; when compared to a public cloud. Hybrid cloud is a good mix and ideal for large organizations. This gives organizations the ability to have a mix of public and private clouds that help them be more flexible in terms of pricing and workability.
The Real Challenge
Though many organizations are adapting to the cloud platform, often not knowing what combination works best and how to control it leads to a lot of inefficiencies in management. Here are some of the challenges that organizations face while managing their own cloud.
- Security issues: Security is one of the biggest concerns for an organization that is migrating to a cloud-based solution. Specifically, in cases where an organization is trying to create its own cloud environment, rather than using public ones that come with predetermined checks and balances on the security front. When creating a private cloud network, the organization will have to create its own regulations that have to be met. Organizations will be solely responsible to secure their own data. This will require you, to learn to use the applications efficiently, track apps, and ensure that they are secure. This is a daunting task especially if you do not have the training or the resources to manage it effectively; especially, if multiple cloud instances are involved.
- Performance management: There are many cloud vendors that provide organizations cloud platforms. Choosing the right one that suits you will determine how well your organization’s cloud performs. Some vendors may give erratic performance and could drain your organization’s resources. Apart from selecting the right vendor, you also need to ensure that you have the tools to track the clouds performance. Monitoring is an important aspect of ensuring that the vendor is not taking advantage and delivering on the Service Level Agreement (SLA) agreed upon by both the parties.
- Special expertise: Often, when migrating to a cloud-based platform, the IT staff in the organization may or may not have the expertise to handle and manage the cloud environment that it is being migrated to. The workload on the staff increases as they have to comply and learn about the new environment they have to work with. This also means the staff will need training on agile methodologies, DevOps tools, and working within the cloud management platform – this would require focused learning on multiple areas including admin, coding and operations. This will require the existing staff to be trained, new staff to be selected with the specific skills and the option to consider the use of third-party plug to help ease things out.
- Migration difficulties: Sometimes if you decide you want to change your vendor, after taking the all-important decision to go with them in the first place, you can find yourself having trouble migrating from one vendor to another. This is because the architecture and tools used by various vendors can be very different. Therefore, it becomes vital to pick the right kind of vendor and ensure that you are taking an account of all the migration difficulties you might face, should you decide to move.
- Cost Efficiency: At the outset it can be said that migrating to a cloud could be a big benefit to the company. However, determining which type of cloud to use can, in the end, influence the economies of scale. Having said that, as you move more services to the cloud, the cost of the cloud rises, not including the cost paid to the vendors. Therefore, managing the cloud and prioritizing the information that sits in it becomes a major company responsibility. Additionally, if you are building your own cloud and not enough people within your organization use it; that automatically increases the cost to the company.
- Skill shortage: Having the skill to control the fate of your cloud is a very important aspect in cloud management. Skills include technical ones to create or set up the cloud, and management skills to ensure there are no breaks in the service. Small issues in the management of the cloud could result in huge problems for the organization. If you already do not have the technical or management skills, it will be an uphill climb to ensure that the cloud is up and running; leading to lots of frustration within the organization.
- Time and effort: Though cloud management is getting a lot easier in these times of rapid change, management of the cloud takes a lot of time and effort. If you, therefore, decide to manage your cloud on your own; apart from skill set you will also need to devote time towards its management. This could sometimes translate into hiring a resource to just do that on a regular basis. Especially, in situations when things go wrong; fixing it could be both tedious and time consuming.
- Technology options: Technology is ever changing; and with it the options available to choose from are multiplying. There are a host of hardware and software options emerging in the market. Even if you do not want the best of the hardware and software, to know the options that are available will take some of your time to keep at the technological growth in the cloud space. Sometimes, the difference between a very expensive solution when compared to a not so expensive one could be a minor change; this information will only be made available to you if you follow the technology developments closely.
- Scalability: It is important to see if the amount of space you have in the cloud is the only amount of space you are using; lest you pay more for than what you use. Additionally, if you need more space suddenly, it is important to see if the current arrangement is scalable. Insufficient space is as problematic as abundant space in the cloud. It, therefore, becomes vital to keep a balance and pick options that work best for you.
- Reliability:Reliability is an important piece of the puzzle. Is the data in a safe place that is accessible as and when needed? Is the data backed up to ensure that nothing is lost in space? All of these are important things to look at while managing the cloud.
As businesses start to adapt cloud services, many are suffering because of cloud sprawling. What’s more, the different departments within the organization are using different systems to solve different issues within the cloud. Often organizations do not know how it works and where the gaps in the business are. Additionally, because of the lack of knowledge in cloud technology to begin with; more and more organizations are losing money; while they could potentially be saving it.
The Solution: Leveraging SaaS-based Platforms
SaaS-based platforms and applications best help organizations with this very thing. They make organizations cloud management easier while ensuring efficiency. With SaaS, organizations can leave the maintenance of the physical servers and cloud-based software application to the SaaS provider. Instead, organizations can use the cloud whilst the SaaS provider manages everything at a subscription fee. Software updates, management of developed software application, and so on are all managed through a web browser. Though you lose some amount of control on the customization of the product; management, updates, and maintenance will no longer be your organization’s headache.
Overall, there are many solution providers that help organizations manage their cloud platform. Here are some of the benefits that they get to the table.
Flexibility of options: There are many best-of-breed functionalities that are provided by SaaS platforms. SaaS solutions are available for almost every kind of cloud challenge or need. There are those that support web services and some that support HTTP REST. Others have SOAP services or have proprietary APIs to integrate with. There are still others that only integrate using a file-based integration. For these diverse options, on the enterprise side, there are tools to integrate with SaaS applications as well. This gives organizations different options to choose from based on their organizational size, requirements and budgets.
Efficiency and support: SaaS provider’s expertise lies in their ability to make SaaS work for your organization; that is their product offering. This means they have spent time and resources to research on how to better your SaaS experience and continue to do so. Additionally, they are backed by experience and the wherewithal to deal with any issues that may rise and the expertise to deal with them. They typically are equipped to handle emergencies, or at least will have a team of researchers working on how to fix the problem and offer support.
Lower operation cost: SaaS-based applications provide the option to take on their services for a fee. This means that you do not need resources within the organization that are looking at cloud based solutions or problem solving in these areas. A subscription based model results in lesser amount of money spent on hardware, software, and people required to manage it. You, as an organization, know exactly how much you will be paying as compared to sourcing software individually.
Hassle free: SaaS enables the integration of applications while ensuring access to all the needs of different roles within an organization. By maintaining, managing, and processing data that are kept on servers, SaaS solutions enable organizations to focus on what they do best – work towards building their product or solution. Some providers even provide a front-end server that is functional, even if the back-end cloud is down, making the working environment for the organization uninterrupted.
Scalability: The ability to scale as a SaaS provider is both efficient and seamless. Additionally, some of the SaaS providers also provide customization options to their organization; giving them the flexibility to make the solution suit their specific needs. Additionally, since they have the ability to integrate with other SaaS solutions, it becomes easier to scale towards a new need or requirement.
Seamless upgrades: The SaaS provider handles all the upgrades within the system and all of this is updated through the internet. So there are no patches that need to be deployed at the customer’s side to get everyone updated to the latest technology. Security, upgrades, uptime, new features, and more – are all the responsibility of the SaaS provider, making working within the environment easier.
Reduced time to benefit: When you use a SaaS provider, their solutions come packed with all the features agreed up – installed and configured. The applications are ready to use, without down time to cater to each employee’s needs. Additionally, many SaaS providers also give free trials of application making decision making easier and with hands on experience.
Higher adoption rate: Most SaaS solutions are accessible through familiar web browsers. This makes it easier for people to access and learn, leading to higher adoption rate. The lack of a requirement for special tools or software to access enables users or employees to easily start working in their familiar environments. Additionally, it comes with the luxury of being able to work from anywhere as long as you have an internet connection making it so much more convenient. Not to mention the access through multiple device options that is growing in popularity.
Transform how your company views IT: The company and the IT department of the organization gets completely transformed under the able watch of SaaS. With handling of the deployment and handling of applications and software, the IT department can focus more on the immediate needs of the organization. They can focus on goals that help, aid, and support the teams to achieve common organizational goals.
Having said this, it is clear that though cloud and SaaS are different, they can be closely related. The IoT is the future, and the integration of cloud with SaaS is paving the way to a smooth transition in the internet world. SaaS, with cloud, is enabling users integrate applications, find simpler more efficient fixes, automate processes and make DevOps a reality.
SaaS’s popularity is on a steady rise because of its simplified deployment capabilities and diminished set up and acquisition costs. Latest features, improved services, and greater return on investments are just some of the salient features that are helping organizations using SaaS to benefit from this booming new business.
There are many SaaS-based companies that have started focusing on and expanding their SaaS offerings to help organizations overcome the difficulties that they face with technology. There are many options available, so it is important to pick the offering that best suits your organizational needs. There are many players big and small that provide great solutions at varied prices offering different kind of customization and support. Ensure to do the research before falling into a trap. Evaluate things like your needs, the costs involved, and the timeline of the project. Make sure that the SLA is in place and is agreed upon, both by you and your provider; this will help lay down clear expectations and protect yourself for contingencies that may occur.
This said, it is important to remember that this adaptation within an organization does take time; and change is a process and cannot be done overnight.
The Final Word
Change is not easy. Any change in an organization starts with a conversation and further a buy in by all the stakeholders; so as an organization always remember to get a buy in from the teams that will use this system.
What’s more, after you make the right decision on the kind of SaaS provider you want, you get the luxury of having a partner that is working towards helping make your business a success. This eventually leads to a mutually beneficial relationship.
Finally, Saas-based platforms aim at making it easy for enterprises to work with clouds and ensure they benefit from it. Botmetric, a product by Minjar, specializes in cloud implementation and consultation. It is an intelligent cloud management platform that is designed to make cloud easy for engineers. Sign up now, to see how Botmetric can help you with your SaaS needs.