From the CEO’s Desk: Operationalize your SaaS the right way

Chaitanya Jawale
Posted by Chaitanya Jawale on March 8, 2018

Although the term was introduced at the start of 20th century, SaaS market is older than we think. Application as service, as some of us used to call it, can be dated back to 1960s, to the times of utility computing. Some of the old school examples include emails and other messaging services, online office tools, customer management software such as CRMs, ERPs, accounting applications, etc. And now, the popular ones include Zendesk, Office365, Salesforce, Google Apps, Dropbox, Slack, etc. The term itself gained much of traction with the rise of cloud. Cloud started with the trio of IaaS, PaaS, SaaS and that is when everyone reached a conclusion as to what are we going to call this service, which is a multi-billion-dollar market now.

SaaS allows you to utilize all the things an application has to offer without the trouble of unwanted, time and hardware resources consuming installation setups. And with the cloud fruition, you can combine SaaS with all the benefits such as:

  • Scalability – dynamic allocation of resources as and when required
  • Accessibility and mobility – access applications irrespective of your workstation proximity with your data stored in cloud and mobile device compatibilities
  • Availability – ensured optimized performance and uptime
  • Automation – reduced manual efforts and time with the possibility to automate everything.

What is SaaSOps? And why do you need it?
The end goal of any IT service or application is the same – performance, security, reliability, and cost-effectiveness. DevOps thrives on the principal to deliver all these in a formulated way to speed things up. For a successful DevOps strategy, it is very important that your Operations folks are in sync with every process in the development cycle. Same is the case with SaaS. Organizations are becoming more and more SaaS dependent and slowly the IT world is moving towards 100% SaaS. For every development stage you have a SaaS and for all-day operations you have SaaS. All this SaaSification is leading to a scenario, where you need a special something or someone to manage these applications. And when you say managing these applications you don’t only mean completing signing up formalities with a new user for your SaaS and granting him an access, but it means you need to take care of all the “behind the scene” activities to keep the application up and delivering beyond the customer expectations. And this is what SaaSOps is all about.

New roles in organizations with SaaSOps
Typical SaaSOps functionalities include- managing the infrastructure and provisioning, integrating the monitoring and security procedures, administering the processes and ensuring the day-to-day operations, aligning these operations with the business goals, transitioning routine procedures with automation tools and third-party applications, setting rules and thresholds, configuration settings, handling the user signing ups and login processes. Maintaining all these operations means you need workforce or a SaaSOps team. Size of the SaaSOps teams may vary depending on the application and user-base size but a typical team will have operations managers, network admins, database administrators and analysts, and SaaS admins. These people are responsible to ensure the mission-critical operations, security and monitoring of SaaS operations and to help them are all the tools.

SaaSOps monitoring and security
Nowadays in IT, everything is revolving around one term - security. SaaS is no exception to that. In past, we had all the applications in the on-premise set-up which were easy to protect with a firewall or through VPNs. But the cloud, virtualization techniques, and the free public access make it difficult or we can say exposes the application and related operations to a continuous threat. Typically, these threats include SaaS application or system vulnerabilities, data theft, spyware attacks, human errors, etc. Thankfully like most of the IT, SaaS is evolving very fast to take care of this aspect. Except for the human error, which we can eliminate with proper edification, there are a number of monitoring tools that you can integrate and security practices that you can follow to ensure your SaaSOps are protected from any threats. Apart from cloud security standards, there are certain security practices and testings which we can follow that will ensure the security of SaaS operations. These are some simple practices related to access controls, data governance, security policies, response plans, and security audits that can make a huge difference to your SaaS operations reliability. When it comes to monitoring tools, you have ample of them for everything. For monitoring and analytics, you can have New Relic, Amazon CloudWatch for AWS resources and application that’s hosted in Amazon’s cloud, similarly Microsoft Cloud Monitoring if you are Azure fan, Rackspace Cloud Monitoring for applications on OpenStack cloud, VMware Hyperic for monitoring virtual and physical infrastructure, OS, middleware, and web apps, Prometheus for system monitoring and alerting , Sumo logic or Elasticsearch for log analysis, BMC TrueSight Pulse, Datadog, Unigma the list is endless.

We, at Opcito, have leveraged most of these tools and technologies for our customers. SaaSOps consists of many processes such as collecting data and logs generated by various operations, defining dependencies and correlations, setting rules and thresholds, configuration settings, analyzing the logs and data, predictive analytics, root cause analysis and auto solution implementation. Some of our customers are leading SaaS providers and we have integrated lots of third-party tools and other SaaS-based solutions to automate the CI/CD pipeline. Most of the SaaS products involve lots of data and personal information. Plus, payment gateways for financial transactions, emailing and messaging service integrations, connections with social networking accounts which increases the risk, probability, and attack surface area. Opcito assisted them with security analysis, vulnerability scanning, functional scanning and integration of third-party monitoring tools like Datadog. SaaSOps is more important than ever before because of the increasing SaaS players and SaaSOps teams have the responsibility and opportunity to make systems that are highly available, security compliant and result in hosting optimization, performance and efficiency optimization and reduce the downtimes, OPEX, security threats, the possibility of failures and time to restore. So, SaaSOps can be the key to stay one step ahead of your competition.

Topics: Cloud, DevOps, & Containers, DevOps, Product & Test engineering, SaaS, CI/CD, Security, SaaSOps, Monitoring, Ops

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