At some point, most businesses will direct some of their most important processes to the cloud. In fact, a RightScale survey found that businesses now run 79 percent of their operations with cloud services. With the intention of building a more flexible work environment, management teams are using software as a service (SaaS) and deploying multiple applications within the virtual work environment, but they must also work around incompatibility issues. This is how companies arrive at the problem of SaaS sprawl (also known as cloud sprawl).
It wasn't long ago that app sprawl was in the spotlight as a disruption for businesses. Companies were relying on too many apps for maintaining virtual workspaces, and more than half of these organizations felt pressured to deploy apps. Supporting these apps was exhausting valuable company time and money while increasing security risks.
SaaS sprawl is similar to app sprawl because cloud computing is increasingly difficult to manage and operate without risking security, losing data, and opening the door to a host of other issues that disrupt workflow and productivity. Furthermore, the flexible options for sharing, storing and downloading company data heightens security threats if it falls into the wrong hands.
As businesses fight against SaaS sprawl, they must work strategically to leverage data. As we reflect on what led us from app sprawl to SaaS sprawl, let's examine the most effective ways to combat the related dangers.
1. Embrace data-driven decision-making.
Data-driven decision-making reduces the deployment of numerous apps because it empowers CIOs to ask all the right questions and gathers data showing the importance of analytics for sound decision-making. Software that generates analytics in the cloud requires no additional onsite hardware, making it a viable option for businesses with both small and large budgets.
Every day, a company compiles new data, but this data is usually collected and shared in various locations. Sifting through this data and finding the most valuable insights is a time-consuming and difficult task for an individual. To make the process easier, businesses can deploy business intelligence (BI) solutions. BI is a virtual solution that synthesizes data to generate analytics and uses real-time insights to help your business work at scale by strategically sorting data, making predictions and recommending actions.
2. Consider multi-cloud management systems.
Leveraging data protects employees, customers, and the critical information that businesses rely on to keep track of valuable resources. But efficient data storage is no easy feat for businesses using SaaS.
Over time, corporations amass customer records and sensitive information that should never be viewable to anyone outside of the business. With SaaS, company information is accessible to employees at any time and location from personal devices, including mobile phones, tablets and laptops. SaaS sprawl, combined with unrestricted employee access, increases the likelihood of data breaches, and this unintended sharing of information can lead to lawsuits and irreparable damage to a company's reputation.
Up to 70 percent of all software will operate from the cloud by 2020, but the programming of every application is unique. Cloud services pose a challenge for full data integration because of the different API protocols. So, how can cloud-based services work in collaboration with onsite systems?
Information managers must consider innovative solutions to streamline the process of uploading and managing data in the cloud. Finding the solution won't be easy, but it is possible if management teams adopt a strategic approach to data integration. In the age of digital transformation, CIOs can define and normalize different data types, or they can use multi-cloud management systems for accessing and storing files in one centralized location.
3. Prepare and communicate before deployment.
All virtual infrastructures function differently. Preventing cloud silos is necessary for limiting app deployments and saving data while providing the conveniences of SaaS to each department implementing the use of cloud technology. Clear communication between CIOs and IT departments is critical before moving forward to define bandwidth requirements and set standards.
Considering your company's network infrastructures, port management and the virtual machines (VMs) that will be needed after the app has been deployed is a recipe for disaster. Because resources are often exhausted on unnecessary VMs, CIOs must take control of virtual properties by limiting access to the VMs to administrators who understand the strategic methods that must be implemented to streamline the virtual working environment.
Thinking ahead is key for CIOs to avoid deploying apps on multiple platforms. Prior to deployment, review network systems and infrastructures to determine the scalability of software and its capacity for meeting the latest demands for data integration. Employees lacking programming knowledge must know how to use the software. At the same time, developers must have the option to modify the code as needed.
Remember that the best remedy for SaaS sprawl is collaborating with a team actively seeking solutions that will allow apps to work together seamlessly without proliferating data or slowing productivity. Oftentimes, an integrated cloud system is the best solution for organizing data, enhancing efficiency and eliminating silos by providing intuitive, user-friendly options.