Once found mostly in small- and medium-sized business environments, software as a service (SaaS) has now established itself firmly as the preferred solution for new software deployment in the enterprise. Concerns about security and control have been overshadowed by the low entry cost and fast ramp up of SaaS solutions compared with in-house deployments. Marketing no longer has to wait weeks or months for IT to get around to installing a new application, servers, and storage. Just about anyone with a credit card can get up and running instantly without any IT help at all. The success of well established enterprise SaaS solutions such as Salesforce and NetSuite has done much to eliminate security concerns as well. Few IT departments are as proficient at security for a single application as a large SaaS player.
The wild success of SaaS has had a dramatic impact on IT infrastructure in at least three ways.
Aside from using enterprise SaaS solutions such as Salesforce and NetSuite, enterprise staff takes advantage of cloud file sharing services such as Dropbox, numerous cloud collaboration applications, cloud alternatives to Microsoft office (including Office 365), and, of course, consumer services such as YouTube, Spotify, and Netflix. The impact: an insatiable demand for bandwidth. Enterprises struggle to keep up with bandwidth requirements, not to mention plan ahead for future demands the cloud will place on its Internet connections
With business units increasingly bypassing IT to get the applications they need and employees bringing their own devices, applications, and cloud services to work, IT has largely lost control of its once carefully managed infrastructure environment. Most IT departments today have no idea which and how many cloud applications the organization’s business units and employees use every day. When performance issues occur it’s almost impossible to determine which application or application component is causing the problem or where the root cause lies in the infrastructure, the cloud or everything in between. With large parts of the Internet going through content delivery networks such as Akamai and cloud providers such as AWS, it’s not even easy to identify all the cloud services in use by URL or other similar means.
Legacy network and application performance tools were created with in-house applications in mind, not the cloud. Traditional IT management tools could not pinpoint an issue in the WAN or the SaaS providers environment. They could only rule out an issue inside the firewall, and in many cases that was challenging. Even if IT can identify the SaaS provider, there are usually numerous plugins and external services for things like shipping, marketing tracking, and scores of other functions involved in each transaction as well, making root cause identification ever more complicated.
In a world where a larger and larger percentage of applications will be deployed via SaaS, enterprises will need tools that can take advantage of advanced techniques such as deep packet inspection to identify each cloud application and component precisely and a new generation of cloud inclusive performance monitoring that can monitor applications lying inside and outside the internal network with equal ease.