The explosive growth of software as a service (SaaS) adoption across the enterprise has driven demand for specialized platforms to help manage migrations, operations and investments in these applications. Gartner Research has come to recognize these technologies as SaaS Management Platform (SMPs).
But effectively managing and securing a company’s SaaS stack requires more than just technology — it requires a movement. That’s why specialized IT experts are embracing something called SaaSOps as a way to keep pace. The term may be new, but the concept has been around for quite some time. It’s been 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.
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Ultimately, SaaSOps can be defined as set of disciplines — with new responsibilities, processes, technologies, and people — required to successfully enable your organization through SaaS.
SaaSOps can be divided into three categories. The starting point is People & Process, which encompasses everything from team structure and skills, end user training and support, and change management. Next is SaaS Management, which addresses what IT needs to ensure proper onboarding / offboarding procedure, access management, spend management and more. The third category is SaaS Security, which focuses on data protection; specifically incident response, file security, identity and access, and regulatory compliance.
Unless this SaaSOps framework is fully embraced within the enterprise, it’s impossible for IT to meet the SaaS needs of the business and its employees. As a company with a global community of thousands of IT professionals in large enterprises, BetterCloud has been at the forefront of the SaaSOps movement by providing IT with a platform for managing and securing complex SaaS environments.
In this eWEEK Data Points article, David Politis, CEO and Founder of BetterCloud, sheds light on the trends driving this major industry shift.
Data Point No. 1: Employee Experience is Everything
Today, employees across the world’s largest enterprises depend on applications like G Suite, Slack and Dropbox to collaborate and get work done. They’ve been given the freedom to work and collaborate on their own terms from virtually anywhere. This new paradigm for productivity has spurred unprecedented levels of growth for both employees and employers. This is what we today call the digital workplace.
IT is responsible for empowering employees with these tools, yet they lack the support, resources and head count to keep up with SaaS adoption and provide the kind of seamless experience employees have come to expect from these applications.
Data Point No. 2: SaaS Environments Are Growing In Complexity
The industry has shifted from traditional homogeneous environments based on a single vendor to heterogeneous environments with various best-in-breed SaaS solutions. From collaboration (Slack) to conferencing (Zoom) to sales ops (Salesforce), the number of “birthright” and business applications has grown exponentially. This shift has created more dispersed data and made action orchestration and managing permissions for each application much more complex, leading to misconfiguration issues and leaving companies open to malicious attacks and breaches, as well as accidental data leaks.
This shift has added to the ever-growing mountain of work for IT departments. Fact is the more applications, the more users and data IT has to keep secure within company walls.
Data Point No. 3: The New Perimeter is Highly Distributed
The traditional perimeter-based security paradigm that once kept a company’s information assets—hardware devices, hosts, applications, and data— safe from outside threats is a thing of the past.
Employees today connect to internal and external networks from a multitude of devices, from virtually anywhere. Simultaneously, the number of SaaS applications used within the average organization is increasing. These factors have challenged the notion of a “defensible network” and given rise to a new perimeter: the user—the one entity that has all the control over datawithin SaaS applications. Companies now realize it’s useless to protect a network or monitor devices and know the only way to secure their business-critical data is to follow the user.
Data Point No. 4: Lines Between IT and Security Are Blurring
Even when companies have a security team, they’ll rely on IT to implement the policies to respond to threats. This is because the dynamic environment of cloud and SaaS requires close collaboration between IT and security teams to ensure that critical assets are protected, while enabling access to the technology that organizations need to fulfill their missions and stay competitive.
That’s why IT and security teams are increasingly aligning. According to a recent report by Dark Reading, 57% of respondents said IT and security staff communicate well, up from 47% last year. Most notably, collaboration on risk mitigation and business enablement has improved considerably with security experts now viewing such collaboration as fundamental to an organization’s ability to defend itself against modern cloud threats.
Data Point No. 5: IT Workloads Have Become Unmanageable
Many companies are struggling with cloud security issues due to understaffed IT departments that are unable to keep up with their current workloads and network oversight responsibilities. In fact, according to a survey conducted by Forrester, 75 percent struggle to help the business make the right internal priority choices, 68 percent have little time for proactive and preventative projects due to existing responsibilities, and 53 percent come up short because new resources are hard to find.
Data Point No. 6: IT Has Been Siloed for Far Too Long
Close collaboration between IT and other business functions is essential in dealing with SaaS and information sprawl. Unfortunately, IT continues to be both undervalued and under-resourced at most enterprise organizations, creating misalignment with the business.
This is a result of years of IT being treated a cost center, and a naysayer, as opposed to what they really are: enablers of workforce productivity. Luckily, this has a solution. IT can show more flexibility and promote their value. IT execs need to also make sure security is baked into everything they do. Most importantly, they need to demand the resources they need to be successful.
Data Point No. 7: DevOps Paved the Way
DevOps focused on building better consumer-facing applications and transforming the customer experience — and it worked. Since then we’ve seen many spin-offs — SecOps, DevSecOps, RevOps — aimed at bridging the gap between different teams within an organization to create greater efficiencies.
In the context of SaaS in the enterprise, the employee is the new consumer. In the same way DevOps brought together IT / operations and development teams, SaaSOps is aligning the agility and productivity of SaaS adoption with the business.
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