Is Saas the future of your corporate IT ?

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This is one more question that haunts many people’s night. More serioulsy, if it doesn’t make people stay awakened all nights long, it creates debates and brings some confusion that doesn’t help businesses to move forward. As a matter of fact deploying any solution is not that easy when one still have many infrastructure related concerns.

So, let’s try to get cleared idead about what’s going on.

Which debate ?

To make it short,  while companies have been used to host their information system on their own infrastructure are facing the emergence of an alternative solution, called Software as a Service, that makes possible to deliver applications through the internet, using services that are not hosted by its IT dept anymore but by external providers. The debate could be simple (I manage everything by myself vs I let others dealing with the issues and I pay for for service) but there are security and privacy concerns that are not trivial. Concerns that are legitimate even if, sometimes, the answer is simple, in a world where old habits have a very heavy weight.

100% Saas is an illusion for large businesses

I don’t know if anyone ever dreamt of it, but thinking one day large businesses may have 100% of their IT in Saas is hare-brained. First because not everyhting is available in Saas. Then because there are strategic applications and datas that are thought being best protected “at home”, even if there is always a risk to assume. Last, because it’s a legal requirement for some industries (bank, national defense related industries etc…). That does not mean the baby has to be thrown with the bathwater.

This model makes sense for SMBs. Foir them, maintaining and making their whole IT evolve often have costs that disproportionate costs regarding to their size. Saas may be a wise choice in this case.

For large businesses, the need for cost rationalization would mean that, while keeping their own IT for many critical things, they outsource what’s not considered being mission critical.That’s to say many things. Notice that as the volume of datas is increasing every day, hosting them (with the related constraints) is becoming a professional’s job because only specialized businesses will be able to offer the needed quality of service at affordable costs. Another point is, as businesses will need to interact more and more with the outside, and since they don’t want to let any external people putting a toe on their serveurs, hosting the dedicated services outside may be a good choice.

Your IT dept as a Saas Provider ?

Some times ago, the Gartner issued something about “private cloud” that could be the right middle that could reconciliate the two worlds. Becoming “internal Saas providers”, IT deps will be offer the best to their internal clients : “on demand” for the client while keeping everything under (their) control. A new dimension for the IT role that would fit the current trends. It also supposes that vendors would provide us softwares that would make it possible, but it’s only a matter of good will. IT depts would deliver and make things run, internal clients would buy the service and..that’s all. You click and it works. This is the end of endless deployments.

Of course, not all businesses can afford it but many large businesses will see an interesting and cost efficient evolution of an elephantine corporate function regarding to their core business. Amazon and Google are making this their own business and that’s a good thing, but many large groups have the critical size and the needs that would make such a choice being a viable option.

Creating customer value through Saas ? A new idea !

In the previous paragraph, I talked about a “cost efficient evolution”. If they choose to invest in such an option, maybe some businesses may see interest to go further. If we assume Saas is a good choice for SMBs, maybe some large businesses should offer this kind of service to their own clients in order to make their investment even more profitable. This may also help to deal with the trust concerns toward companies like Google for instance. If a bank chooses to offer its clients to host their payroll and accounting sofwtare, it would make sense. It the key trusted partner of a SMB offers it a package of hosted services including payroll, accounting, CRM, invoicing, it would be seen as bery very valuable. Not necessarily “home made” solutions, third part white label is possible too.

Not everybody will be able to propose such things : critical size and a kind of respectability is needed. But it would be a good way to to make the investments pay and provide a valuable package for a fee to clients.

We don’t know how future will look like. Maybe such an idea is not that foolish…

Here is a presentation I just came across about private cloud