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Is SaaS an enemy of the IT Manager?

The Internet is full of comments and blog entries that praise the benefits of SaaS, against in-premise. I have also done this (praising)! Of course, most people accept that in-premise has not reached its end; but also most people see the benefits of SaaS…

OK, so why don’t “most people” embrace SaaS in an “absolute” way? By “people” I mean the in-house IT managers of the Enterprise-Buyer and by “absolute” I mean “right here, right now”. We ARE in the middle of a financial crisis and we MUST cut down on internal costs, NOW, right? Today, I shall explore the reasons why the IT Manager is still reluctant to embrace SaaS and also try to answer each one of his/hers concerns. So, what is the average Manager thinking?

  • I will have no control on the critical business applications, like I do now. Wrong: You will still be the key player on designing user procedures and deciding on Change Requests. You will still be the one who gets input about the user requirements and outputs technical specs to your SaaS vendor. In one word, you will continue to have the same control on the app, as you used to have. The only difference is that you will not have control on the programmingitself. Do you really care about that? If yes, then you should also have a look at the PaaS delivery model. But that’s another story…
  • I will have no control on the security issues. Wrong: Any serious SaaS supplier must be in a position to a) provide you with a solid security plan and b) adapt and adopt any special security guidelines that you might have. You might be charged extra for these services and implementation, but you would spend this extra money anyway, right? Let’s face it: Chances are that your new SaaS system is more secure than everything you’ve built before, in-premise. Everybody knows that in-house development often makes “discounts” on security issues…
  • My role will be downgraded. Wrong: You role is still important. In fact, you now have the opportunity to move to the next level: You can become a valuable player in the Enterprise business design, instead of holding yourself back with all that trivial technical issues. Because you already know all (or most) business functions of your Enterprise, you could be the all-around player in all management decisions. Everybody will have a better chance on focusing on the business objectives and most of all you.
  • My staff will be decreased. It is possible that this might happen, but not probable. Some roles might not be required in your Department organization, but chances are that none of your current job positions will be eliminated: You still need the LAN guy, you still need the tech guy to fix the printers, you still need some programmers for custom development, MS Access databases, ad-hoc reporting, to say the least. Of course, we should never forget the human side: What shall become of the people that the Enterprise has laid-off? No problem, job positions are not lost with SaaS. They are just moved elsewhere: To the growing SaaS-vendor’s headcount, who is in constant need for new recruits, because YOU bought from him and helped him grow. It’s like the 70’s, when Computers first came in the Commercial businesses: Were job positions lost? A few. Were new job positions created? A lot more…The very essence of SaaS is about letting the Enterprise focus on its core business functions and not deal with trivial IT issues. SaaS is coming to take a large number of problems off your shoulders and convert you from CIO (Chief Information Officer) to… CIO (Chief Innovation Officer)!

Short URL: http://vertical-cloud.com/?p=3138

Posted by on Mar 20 2012. Filed under C-Level, Cloud Management, Cloud Security, Economics, Information Technology, Latest Cloud News, Standards. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
  • http://www.bimotech.co.uk/ John Higgins

    Some IT Managers feel threatened by the cloud. They feel that they will lose control (they love hugging those grey boxes fixed into their racks!) and may be even their job. In my experience, moving to the cloud is the best thing for both IT departments and their users. Users get better accessibility to services and IT departments can roll out apps and other services quickly and easily, spend less time managing and monitoring and can focus on delivering solutions and becoming a “can do” department. Because of the cloud, IT departments are now being seen less as a break/fix department and more as a service and solution provider to their businesses.

    • TrakII

      John I believe you are correct.

      Its up to IT managers to broaden their personal portfolio of experience by embracing the inevitable changes that SaaS is bringing. Adaptability is key

  • Anastasios Christidis

    Yes, John, I agree with you. XaaS and the Cloud will definitely “shift” the IT Dept’s role but it will not annul its value

  • Dave Gwin

    I think I probably agree with items 2, 3 and 4. However, item 1 I have reservations with.

    SaaS is a tool that any organisation can use and may find valuable. What it often can change are:

    - integration with other applications either SaaS provided or in-house provided becomes more of a challenge

    - Upgrades and enhancements are under the control of the SaaS provider and therefore these may not happen when the customer requires (either too soon or too late)

    - You therefore do not have the same control as you would over your own solution.

    The last point I would argue may be a good or a bad point. Some companies can over complicate their solution and have a SaaS provider with a more rigid degree of service definition and provision may be an advantage. In addition, the headache of major upgrades is to some extent taken away from the IT and user organisation (obviously user testing will probably still be required.

    Cloud is the same in my view and I therefore see point 3 as being very true. Having run IT organisations for over 15 years, before Cloud and SaaS, outsourced services have been a capability that any IT leader can utilise, so this is just another service that the IT organisation and the IT leader needs to find a way of integrating into their service model

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kelly-Reid/1178414580 Kelly Reid

    In my opinion this is a trust issue. I trust myself to to put my company needs first more than I trust any cloud vendor to put my company needs first. I’m sure that any cloud vendor that has a major outage will prioritize their largest clients ahead of small business clients. If that happens to a small accounting firm on April 15th the $500 dollars a month they are saving isn’t going to be enough.

  • http://twitter.com/DemianW Demian Weigle

    Maintaining cloud identity is important. If IT just gives up to each web application to maintain, some safety is kept, but, control is lost. Audits? Records? Back door access? Zombie accounts? Provisioning and deprovisioning, roles, policies and traffic control… all become an even bigger issue for many industry verticals. Another question is scalability… If I have twenty different applications and 300 employees, half of which want to use their smart phones and ipads in the field, at the office or at home, it is IT’s job to provide that access without becoming the IT Group known for saying ‘No’ when any manager comes to them wanting access to a promising web application that could help them do their job. How do you scale up to that with that many applications, devices hardware and then go through onboarding if your company is successful. The cloud’s promises: agility, speed, savings, etc – need to be tempered with identity security – preferably behind your own firewall and on your own active directory/LDAP or SQL Database. Do you really want to give up your identities, attributes and passwords of all your employees – putting them in the cloud in some multi-tenant solution? Once you do, you can’t call them back.

  • Anthonyhaynes

    I fully agree with your thesis. I just published an eBook on amazon asnwering similar objection as they relate to IaaS in the private cloud environment.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/pub/caroline-hsieh/4/a77/b4a Caroline Hsieh

    SaaS, friend or foe, really depends on how IT managers approach it. By harnessing the power provided by SaaS (flexibility, time to deploy, performance), IT managers can become the heroes to enable business. Instead of managing the application build and infrastructure deployment, IT managers bring values by focusing on business capabilities, architecture, security, and contractual obligations of cloud services. Cloud becomes a challenge to IT managers when business decides to leverage cloud services as a way to bypass IT and causes corporate risk exposure from data security and integration standpoint. It’s up to the IT managers to determine if they want to take the proactive approach and bring best practice expertise to business or being reactive in battling the aftermath of poor selection of cloud services.

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