Gartner forecasts a cloudy future for the database market

My Post - 2019-08-02T142842.216.pngThe future of the database market is looking increasingly cloudy.

Analyst firm Gartner Inc. is predicting that three quarters of all database deployments will be made to the cloud within just three years, and that few will ever return to on-premises environments. The analyst firm, in a report published today, said the on-premises database market continues to fade as cloud-based options grow in popularity.

That’s thanks in part to the usefulness of databases that are used for analytics purposes as well as the rise of the cloud software-as-a-service business model. Gartner reckons that it’s seeing clients deploy new applications and migrate existing assets to the cloud at an exponentially growing rate.

Those deployments include things such as data warehouses and data lakes and also analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning workloads. And just 5% of these deployments are ever likely to be moved back in-house at a later date, it said.

The shift is part of the overall trend that’s seen companies increasingly move workloads away from their in-house information technology infrastructure to public cloud platforms rented from companies such as Amazon Web Services Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Google LLC. Cloud services can sometimes be more expensive, but they provide considerable advantages such as eliminating the need to manage the infrastructure, and being able to scale workloads up and down more easily. In many cases the cloud is also seen as more secure, Gartner said. – Read more

A Quick Checklist for Building SaaS Businesses

My Post - 2019-07-25T160750.933.pngConsumers worldwide are enjoying the instant accessibility of cloud computing as well as the easy upgrades, improved mobility and low costs.

Yet, as this growing business model booms, so does the competition. Trendsetters like Google, Oracle and Amazon are setting standards for experience and design, while disruptive innovators are growing quickly.

And all have never had it so easy when it comes to scaling and shaking up the market.

If you’re one of the many budding entrepreneurs looking to dive into the competitive SaaS market, I have put together a checklist to keep your business on track and make sure you avoid some of the common pitfalls:

1. Have you educated yourself and created a lean plan?

The real benefit of the tech market is its flexibility. You often won’t need a large team or even permanent office space to get started. So strip your business down to its essentials, and try to wear as few hats as possible. If you create a lean plan and spend time focusing on what truly matters to your business, you will improve your chances of success.  There are plenty of books available which discuss how to create lean startup plans. I recommend The Lean Startup by Eric Ries as a good jumping-off point.

2. Are you focused on your MVP?

Most SaaS businesses stem from a core idea, which can then snowball into a more complex product. Identifying this core function and developing it to the fullest is a better strategy than trying to build  a more complex product which solves a host of problems. The initial customers you acquire can give you a great motivational push to keep your business growing. Once you have some feedback from your early users, you will be in a better position to develop your business in new directions and to prioritize any upcoming features.

Cloud database management set to soar in coming years

My Post - 2019-07-25T160029.251.pngGartner suggests the trend towards SaaS will drive down the on-premise approach

The trend involving databases being used for analytics under the ever-popular software as a service (SaaS) model will see 75% of all databases being deployed or migrated to a cloud platform, according to Gartner’s latest predictions.

The IT analyst house also said that just 5% of these will ever be considered by owners to be taken back into on-premise infrastructure as businesses continue to realise the benefits of widespread cloud adoption.

“According to inquiries with Gartner clients, organisations are developing and deploying new applications in the cloud and moving existing assets at an increasing rate, and we believe this will continue to increase,” said Donald Feinberg, distinguished research vice president at Gartner.

“We also believe this begins with systems for data management solutions for analytics (DMSA) use cases — such as data warehousing, data lakes and other use cases where data is used for analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).

“Increasingly, operational systems are also moving to the cloud, especially with conversion to the SaaS application model.”

Research from Gartner shows that worldwide revenue from database management systems was up a significant 18.4% to $46 million and cloud database management systems accounted for 68% of that. – Read more

Why half of enterprises struggle to keep pace with cloud security

My Post - 2019-07-25T153428.795.png

SaaS applications are supplanting traditional desktop software, and visibility into cloud workloads is a major problem, according to Symantec.

 

You’ve heard it for years—the future of business applications is mostly cloudy, and that brave new world has come to pass, as a 53% of enterprise compute workloads have now migrated to the cloud, according to Symantec’s Cloud Security Threat Report, published Monday, The report also finds 54% of respondents indicate their organization’s cloud security is not able to keep up with cloud applications.

To be fair, there is a lot to keep up with—93% of respondents indicate their organizations are storing data in more than one environment, with 69% of respondents still storing data on premises. “This heterogeneity makes it difficult to achieve visibility across applications and workloads,” the report notes, “ushering in a host of challenges that tax the expertise and bandwidth of IT staff and make some legacy cyber defense tools and processes obsolete.”

Symantec also notes that “the average organization believes its employees are using 452 cloud apps,” but Symantec contends the actual number is 1,807, which is a bidirectional problem at best. IT decision makers should be more aware of what third-party services are being used by employees, though throwing any web-based service in the category of cloud application dilutes the meaning of both “cloud” and “application.” Independent of these definitions, 93% of respondents indicated difficulties monitoring all cloud workloads. – Read more

Should CEOs Embrace Cloud Computing?

My Post - 2019-07-25T154606.002.pngCloud computing has grown considerably in recent years, especially among larger companies and corporations.

However, some CEOs are still reluctant to bring this technology into their daily operations. Even after deciding to adopt cloud computing, some CEOs are also still torn between public and private options.

The Growth of Cloud Computing

According to Forbes, 83 percent of enterprise workloads will be in the cloud by 2020. Cloud computing continues to grow as a result of the many benefits it offers to businesses. Some of the primary benefits of cloud computing for businesses include:

  • Reliability – The cloud is always available, providing businesses with service they can depend on.
  • Availability – Cloud computing makes it possible for employees to work from any location with an internet connection. This facilitates travel, as well as work-at-home options.
  • Scalability – With cloud computing, businesses can pay for only the services they need. Services can be added or removed easily, making this a cost-effective option for companies of any size.
  • Affordability – Business that utilize cloud computing don’t need to invest in expensive equipment or in-house IT teams to the same degree as businesses using older technologies. This makes cloud computing a much more affordable option for most businesses.
  • Always up-to-date – When a business works with a cloud provider, hardware and software is updated on a regular basis without any extra expense.
  • Better for the environment – Cloud computing reduces the strain on the environment. Businesses interested in protecting the environment may choose cloud computing over traditional technologies for this reason. – Read more

Tackling the UK’s productivity with the right cloud solutions

My Post - 2019-07-23T184800.952.pngThe proliferation of vast swathes of data offers a treasure trove of information for organisations looking to uncover previously unidentified business insights, and regular software updates to cloud infrastructure are taken care of by its suppliers

 

The UK is in the midst of a productivity crisis. Despite relatively high employment levels, worker output has not correlated with this positive trend. There may be a high proportion of the UK population in work, but they are not producing as much as they could be.

The productivity gap is a key concern for public and private sector organisations. It is a complex issue, but one which innovative technology can help address through the collaboration and remote working opportunities offered by cloud technology.

We have seen increasing rates of cloud adoption in the UK – and this has gone hand in hand with a greater understanding of what the cloud is.

Increasingly, organisations have come to understand the cloud as a delivery model through which users connect to their data, documents and information online. By using cloud technology and cloud-enabled productivity platforms, such as Google G Suite and Microsoft Office 365, workers can collaborate anytime, anywhere.

Taken together, these two developments can have a significant impact on productivity. Rather than having to work through several iterations of separate documents, with each individually amended, saved on to a central server system and then emailed to a new recipient, the cloud allows for real-time collaboration that speeds up working processes. This saves time and money by allowing employees to work on the same document with their colleagues.

Working remotely also brings significant productivity benefits. For example, being unable to make it into the office no longer means being restricted from accessing documents stored on a central server. Using cloud technology, collaborative documents can be accessed from anywhere, anytime. – Read more

SaaS Customer Onboarding: Why It’s Valuable to Software Companies

My Post - 2019-07-17T115353.736.pngLanding new customers is a hell of a lot of work for B2B (business-to-business) software companies.

Even the easy deals require extensive brand awareness efforts, targeted marketing, testimonials, sales conversations, proposals, and so much more.

If there’s so much effort put in to acquiring a customer, then why do so many businesses stop caring once the deal is signed? Customers tend to expect the amount of attention they received during the sales process to continue once they sign on the dotted line. Too often however, they are let down when software training begins and ends with a single meeting or session.

There is good news though! More companies are starting to understand the value of properly onboarding customers (addressing pain points, guiding setup, on-site tutorials, etc.) and providing more attention as needed to their new customer base.

Here are a few reasons why SaaS customer onboarding is seeing a surge in popularity and why it’s valuable to software companies:

Good onboarding reduces customer churn – Simply put, providing an inadequate onboarding experience increases the chance that customers will leave your business. You want them to become invested in your business, and the best way to do that is by encouraging (and sometimes hand-holding) customers to learn about your software. If there’s time invested, customers are less likely to walk away.

It reduces the amount of support inquiries – Customers who aren’t provided with a solid onboarding experience will have lots of questions. And, guess who answers them? Your SaaS customer support team. While it’s important for a customer to become familiar with how your support process works, answering the same basic questions over and over has a significant negative impact on internal morale. Customer support software solutions can help to streamline simple requests via chat and self-service technology, but properly onboarding customers will eliminate the need to answer these questions altogether.

Great onboarding encourages internal training – It should come as no surprise that new customers usually enjoy learning from their colleagues more than you. They are often more available to answer questions and can also do a better job relating how the software works within the company’s broader operations. That’s why properly onboarding a small group of people from the start to be the “champions” of your software for the company makes the most sense. If they go through a great SaaS onboarding experience, knowledge will spread naturally as needed throughout the entire company. It also isn’t a bad idea to have another onboarding session in the future if key customer contacts with knowledge of your software have recently left to pursue a new opportunity. – Read more

How to Create Great Content for SaaS

My Post - 2019-07-17T112518.722.pngEach industry is unique. Who you’re writing for, where you’ll be publishing, and what you’re talking about varies widely based on your industry, your niche, and your goals.

It’s so important to understand the tips and tricks related to great content creation for SaaS.

Depending on what you’re offering, Software-as-a-Service can be a very technical field that can be jargon-y and tough for the average person to understand. Great content is your chance to bridge that gap. But how do you get there? How do you ensure that you’re creating the right content that adds value to the lives of your readers?

Here are five tips to ensure you’re nailing content creation for the SaaS industry.

Work with What You Have
The best content could already be on your website. Before heading out with the goal of writing an entirely brand-new eBook or whitepaper, perform a content audit on your website. All too often, business owners forget about what they already have.

Look for similarities between blogs, case studies, and website content. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Could those ten blogs on migrating data become a great whitepaper?

It’s not uncommon – a collection of high-quality blogs can easily become a whitepaper. Or a particularly great case study can be re-purposed into an infographic explaining your process.

Content creation for SaaS is too often considered a chore, fraught with revisions. But if you take the time to audit the content you already have, you might be surprised at what you can come up with.

Know Your Audience
As mentioned earlier, who you’re speaking to can entirely change how you write. For example, if you’re writing a highly-technical blog article targeted towards current IT professionals, you’ll probably use more jargon and explore more of the details relevant to their job. This can include how to migrate data, how to customize and modify settings, and other in-depth how-to blogs. – Read more

The Future of Cloud Services: A Comparison of SaaS, PaaS and IaaS

My Post - 2019-07-17T105922.937.pngSaaS, PaaS, and IaaS are different but they aren’t competitive. Most software-focused companies use all three. Here’s an overview of cloud services options.

Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) are the three essential models of cloud services. Each has its own benefits, and it’s good to understand why providers offer these different models and what implications they have for the market.

While SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS are different, they are not competitive. In fact, most software-focused companies use some form of all three. So, let’s consider these main categories, and because I like to understand things by company name, I’ll include a few of the more common SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS providers in market today.

SaaS: Software as a Service

Software as a Service, also known as cloud application services, represents the most commonly utilized option for businesses in the cloud market. SaaS utilizes the internet to deliver applications, which are managed by a third-party vendor, to its users.

Many SaaS applications are run directly through the web browser, and do not require any downloads or installations on the client side.

Prominent providers: Salesforce, ServiceNow, Google Apps, Dropbox and Slack (and ParkMyCloud, of course).

PaaS: Platform as a Service

Cloud platform services, or Platform as a Service (PaaS), provide cloud components to certain software while being used mainly for applications. PaaS delivers a framework for developers that they can build upon and use to create customized applications.

All servers, storage, and networking can be managed by the enterprise or a third-party provider while the developers can maintain management of the applications.

Prominent providers and offerings: AWS Elastic Beanstalk, RedHat Openshift, IBM Bluemix, Windows Azure, and VMware Pivotal CF. – Read more

Why do you need backup for Salesforce and other SaaS apps?

My Post (36).pngOrganizations using cloud-based SaaS applications are focused way too much on usage of these platforms and, instead, need to also be thinking about productivity in terms of backups.

Cloud-based application platforms, like Salesforce, Office 365 and Box, are now integral parts of modern-day business operations. With the digital transformation in full swing, customers, partners, vendors and employees expect that operations and data will be available pretty much always.

But, for some odd reason, IT has lost its collective mind. We would never think of putting up a new application and not backing it up. But when we move to the cloud and put our organization’s most critical data up there — in Salesforce or otherwise — many don’t give a second thought to backups. But why? If Salesforce was on premises, wouldn’t you be backing it up every day? Of course you would.

There are a number of reasons you need backup for Salesforce and other SaaS providers:

  • They aren’t responsible. Most SaaS vendors subscribe to a shared responsibility model. In short, they are responsible for the service, but you are responsible for your data. Salesforce, for example, says it outright. The vendor offers the most basic backup for Salesforce.
  • In-application functionality is limited. Some platforms have deleted item retention times, data archiving or legal holds, but these are generally per-record copies. None of these are as effective as good, old-fashioned backups that are in your control. Salesforce offers some manual and on-demand export options, but none of them are of the same caliber as traditional backups.
  • Data is at risk of loss. Microsoft Azure, for example, has suffered multiple outages in recent years. While most outages are merely a loss of service, as more organizations rely on SaaS vendors, the likelihood of it happening to a customer increases by the day. Even Salesforce keeps a copy of your data for disaster recovery (DR) as a “last resort” (its words), acknowledging it is possible for your data to be lost.
  • You need to meet the 3-2-1 backup rule. In some cases, there is only one copy in production. (Replication for service availability doesn’t count.) To meet the rule, you need two additional copies, at least one additional medium and one copy that’s off-site — that is, not in the SaaS vendor’s hands. At best, Salesforce only maintains two copies — one in production and one for its admittedly expensive DR services.

Read more