Inside Your Firewall
To ensure that your SAAS applications meet your organization's expectations, you must determine what those expectations are. If you're looking to replace an existing system with a SAAS-based alternative, identify how long it takes to complete typical transactions and operations, and reserve these numbers as a guide.
If the SAAS application will be pushing significant amounts of data between your users, the Web-based characteristics of SAAS applications may be an issue. For instance, if you're looking at switching from on-premises to SAAS e-mail, keep in mind that any large files that your users now send from point to point within your campus will have to pass through an external server. Depending on your configuration, you may need to adjust some of your practices to achieve the reliability that your users require.
In addition to clarifying expectations, it's important to begin your SAAS evaluation by considering the networks through which your users will access these applications. Moving to SAAS means boosting the importance of your company's connections to the Internet, so it's important to take stock of your company's connection to the Internet cloud. You'll also need to evaluate complementary services, such as DNS. If you're already experiencing bandwidth and latency issues in any of the locations from which your users will consume the SAAS services, you'll need to clear these up before the SAAS operation can run reliably.
In addition, you should put monitoring tools in place to stay abreast of issues with the Internet connection so that if problems with the SAAS applications arise, you can find out without too much trouble whether the problems are on your end or with the provider's service.
Once you've defined your SAAS needs and have done a sanity check on your networks, you're ready to begin evaluating and talking to individual SAAS providers. Among the many issues to discuss, there's a group of topics that relate directly to reliability.