SaaSOps: The next step in Software as a Service evolution

My Post - 2020-01-24T142729.114.pngSoftware as a Service (SaaS) merged with automated operations (Ops) can make for a powerful combination called SaaSOps. Learn what benefits this hybrid can offer your organization.

Software as a Service (SaaS), a cloud computing model in which companies provide applications on demand via the internet, has been a popular technology for more than 10 years now. This platform eliminates the need for on-site or “thick clients” to be installed on local systems, facilitating business operations and freeing up technology professionals for more elaborate endeavors.

The Operations (Ops) operational model, which facilities operational endeavors by automating processes for better reliability and efficiency, has also established a firm foundation among enterprises to help achieve deliverables more effectively.

What if the two were combined for greater efficiency and interoperational coordination? It’s a process that’s underway, and it is yielding new opportunities.

I discussed the topic with David Politis, CEO and founder of BetterCloud, a SaasOps solutions provider.

Scott Matteson: There is a buzz in the IT community around a new movement called SaaSOps. Can you tell me a bit about what that means, and how it came about?

David Politis: SaaSOps is a practice referring to how Software as a Service (SaaS) applications are managed and secured through centralized and automated operations (Ops), resulting in reduced friction, improved collaboration, and better employee experience.

SaaSOps is a result of the explosion of SaaS in the enterprise. The term is new, but the concept has been gaining momentum for quite some time. You may have heard it being referred to as everything from digital workplace ops, to IT operations, to SaaS administration, to cloud office management and end-user computing, just to name a few.

But, ultimately, the gist is the same. SaaSOps is a set of disciplines—all the new responsibilities, processes, technologies, and people you need to successfully enable your organization through SaaS.

Scott Matteson: Neither SaaS nor Ops is necessarily a new phenomenon. Why this movement happening now?

David Politis: Well, for one, we’ve reached a tipping point with SaaS, which is now a common system of record for many organizations. But let’s face it, the increasing popularity of SaaS also means that its management challenges are growing swiftly, too. It’s done wonders for employee productivity, but IT workloads—a growing mountain of repetitive, manual work—have become unmanageable.

I believe emerging SaaSOps roles are illustrative of the industry’s increasing need for effective SaaS management. Businesses are responding to that demand by hiring  IT employees who can be solely dedicated to managing SaaSOps, which is now a bigger part of IT operations overall.

What that means is IT must scale its team to manage multiple SaaS apps (or find another way to manage them), and IT’s day-to-day responsibilities, skill sets, and job titles are expanding.

Scott Matteson: I heard you had your first SaaSOps event last month? How would you describe BetterCloud’s role in the SaaSOps movement?

David Politis: I’d say our role has been significant. We defined SaaSOps for the first time ever on stage at the first-ever event dedicated for SaaSOps professionals, Altitude 2019.

I also announced the second edition of my book, The IT Leader’s Guide to SaaSOps — Vol. 2: How to Secure Your SaaS Applications. It appears to have been well received as we even had people during and after the conference add SaaSOps to their titles!

We also had our inaugural SaaSOps Stars Awards to recognize outstanding IT and SaaSOps practitioners. Winners included 10 people and teams who, through their SaaSOps practice, helped their companies empower their businesses securely through SaaS.

At the same event, we introduced our new Integration Center, a centralized exchange to discover, install, and configure BetterCloud integrations. We also unveiled a whopping 32 new integrations to support SaaS apps like ZoomAtlassianDocuSignGitHubOneLoginPagerDutyAWSTableauDuoSplunkDatadog, and more. In total, we are now supporting over 450 actions across 41 integrations.

Scott Matteson: What career opportunities is SaaSOps creating for budding IT professionals?

David Politis: If you do a quick Google search for “SaaS Operations job,” it will return 6.86 million hits—not an insignificant number. We’re starting to see new IT roles being carved out every day. More and more of our customers are telling us that they’re creating SaaSOps positions and looking for SaaSOps engineers, SaaS operations managers, SaaS systems administrators, and SaaS administrators, among others.

Our customer Spotify’s job posting for SaaSOps engineer is a great example. The demand for those positions is a major part of what’s creating the buzz you mentioned earlier, and it’s opening up exciting opportunities for budding IT professionals.

An interesting thread that pulled through at Altitude was the fact that the new IT admin is becoming a corporate engineer. It’s the evolution of IT from being merely tech support to enabling a seamless user experience. It’s a new way of thinking about IT’s role and caring for our customers through technology.

Scott Matteson: How does SaaSOps affect businesses?

David Politis: SaaSOps ultimately unlocks the potential SaaS can have on any given organization: increased productivity, better collaboration, and a happier workforce. In a world where SaaSOps is widely adopted—which I predict will be in the next 3 to 5 years—users can achieve optimum levels of productivity through SaaS, and IT can effectively manage the proliferation of these best-in-breed applications.

When companies first start their SaaS journey, adoption is low. It could be that employees have gone rogue and are using the applications on their own (shadow IT), or perhaps you’ve only deployed your first app across a limited number of users. Over time, however, the number of apps, users, and data in your environment grows exponentially. That’s when it’s critical for companies to embrace that SaaS is the better way to work. This is where SaaS adoption really takes off, and employees as well as IT start to reap the benefits. It’s SaaS nirvana.

Scott Matteson: What advice would you have for an IT professional entering the SaaSOps profession today?

David Politis: Share knowledge and collaborate across departments as much as possible. A common theme we heard at Altitude is knowing how to work with other departments and forming alliances. If you understand other people’s workflows, you can get a budget for tools more easily, demonstrate credibility, and break out of your IT silo. IT knows all the compliance requirements, so they can see how new tools can help with that.

For example, to build a robust offboarding policy in BetterCloud, you’ll need input from legal, HR, etc. The more complex your SaaSOps environment gets, the more you’ll need to work with other departments.

Scott Matteson: What parallels do you see between SaaSOps and DevOps?

David Politis: The need to respond faster, to build better consumer-facing applications, to transform the customer experience spawned the DevOps movement, a cultural shift that allowed traditionally siloed teams—developers and IT ops—to partner in the rapid delivery of new applications and features and achieve unprecedented levels of innovation.

We’ve seen many spin-offs since then—SecOps, DevSecOps, RevOps—aimed at bridging the gap between different teams within an organization to create greater efficiencies.

We’ve now reached a new juncture focused on the internal consumer (i.e., employees). These individuals have achieved new levels of freedom, productivity and collaboration via mobile and apps like G SuiteSlackSalesforce, and they are willing to protect that employee experience all costs. And without a real understanding of the security implications of deploying company data or assets in the cloud, they often go rogue, opening themselves up for leaks or breaches.

This has given rise to SaaSOps, a movement led by IT to align the agility and productivity of SaaS adoption with the business, while minimizing headaches and risks assumed by their security counterparts. – Read more

How to calculate your cloud TCO

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Look to the Cloud for Small Business Security

My Post - 2020-01-22T121522.905.pngHosted video surveillance services can be the perfect fit for small businesses.

If there’s one thing most small business owners have in common, it’s being pressed for time.

After all, running your own business is not for the faint at heart. Small business owners and managers often wear multiple hats, juggling priorities ranging from sales and marketing to operations and even human resource issues.

Managing so many areas of responsibility leaves small businesses with little time to dedicate to any one task. Important decisions – like investments in security – demand time and attention but must also be weighed against what’s realistic for your organization to maintain within its current resource level.

Luckily, there are some really convenient options for small business security that can protect your assets without adding to your already lengthy to-do list.

Hosted video surveillance services, for example, can provide small businesses with reliable video monitoring but with less maintenance than traditional security deployments, and less upfront cost.

What Is Hosted Video Surveillance?

The definition of hosted video surveillance services can vary, but in many arrangements video recording and storage happen on-site at your business through network video recorders (NVRs) or video management software (VMS), but the day-to-day video system maintenance and administration is handled offsite in the cloud by a third-party provider. The provider hosts the central video server that manages your devices. Some providers may also offer backup storage of some of your video files, as well as convenient reporting features that can help you quickly analyze your video, uncover trends and identify suspicious behaviors.

Time-Savings and Peace of Mind

The nice thing about hosted video surveillance services is that, even though the hardware or software recording device is on-site at your business, your provider is taking care of it. They are monitoring all of your recording devices and cameras to ensure proper connectivity and functionality, and also applying regular software or firmware updates to protect your devices against potential vulnerabilities.

This is often the most time-consuming aspect of video surveillance. And for small businesses in particular, which may not have dedicated security or IT departments, being able to rely on a trained provider for maintenance and upkeep is incredibly valuable.

Just think of this scenario: A security camera covering your business’ walkway has gone offline, but because of your busy schedule you didn’t see the notification. Now, a customer claims to have slipped and fallen on the walkway and they are considering litigation. When you go to review the video footage, you find it’s not there.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen this happen a number of times. Without proper monitoring and maintenance, video systems don’t perform as needed and video is lost.

A hosted video surveillance provider can save you from this unfortunate scenario by continually monitoring your system to ensure it is always recording.  They can also remotely apply software or firmware upgrades, as well as report on your product inventory, including device model numbers, age of equipment and warranty status, to help with lifecycle management. In some cases, you can actually access this information yourself, via a web platform.

Tools to Quickly Analyze Video

Aside from the infrastructure maintenance, hosted video solutions can also offer very convenient tools for analyzing surveillance video.

Some hosted providers make this super easy by packaging your video evidence in convenient reports that you can scan in just minutes. For example, reports could range from a series of video thumbnail clips captured throughout the day, to reports on suspicious transactions (in deployments where video is integrated with point-of-sale (POS) transaction data.)

Depending on your provider, your video system could also be configured to send you email alerts when alarms are triggered or unusual activity, like high-dollar voids or refunds, take place.  You can simply click on the email alert to see the associated video.

In retail environments in particular, these reports can greatly assist in reducing shrink by zeroing in on suspect transactions, which in some cases, can be internal theft. I’ve seen businesses recoup thousands of dollars in losses because they’ve been able to prove theft thanks to their video evidence.

Other businesses have been able to improve operations, merchandising and compliance, as well as employee training, because the video has identified a gap in their normal operating procedures. – Read more