Software as a service (SaaS) tools and applications are now ubiquitous. Research firm Forrester puts it simply: “If you aren’t using SaaS broadly, you’re falling behind.” Why? Because data shows that SaaS “is increasingly the foundation for business opportunities.” Sounds like the perfect solution. But SaaS comes with a unique challenge: The rapid rise of on-demand software services has created a gap between what companies actually know about SaaS use and what they need to know. How can companies see both the digital forest and its virtual trees for total app transparency? It starts with better SaaS application monitoring.
The SaaS Advantage
It’s no surprise that companies are turning to SaaS solutions; cloud-based software lets smaller businesses use enterprise-level functionality at a fraction of the cost, while large organizations can reduce server load and minimize complexity across the network. Combined with a maturing cloud market, the ubiquity of mobile devices and the rise of the Internet of Things, software as a service is now a necessary piece of the digital puzzle for any company to stay competitive. One recent survey found that SaaS adoption was at 74% of respondents, a fivefold increase in the last four years—and there’s no sign of a slowdown.
What You See (And What You Don’t)
Despite their ubiquity and utility, SaaS deployments aren’t always problem-free. Common challenges for companies adopting SaaS include:
Moving software into the cloud doesn’t automatically create a seamless and simplified user experience. In many cases, departmental silos that developed across local infrastructure still exist, but are now at arm’s length, making them more difficult to identify and eliminate. While it’s possible to mitigate basic issues by taking SaaS adoption in small steps rather than large jumps, the bigger problem of long-term integration remains: Companies need a way to see what’s happening with apps on their network, all the time.
Just because apps are cloud-based, this doesn’t mean they all get along. When SaaS performance takes a nosedive, employees may get creative with the apps they download and use, even if the apps used are not approved by IT. This makes it critical to have a bird’s eye view of application performance: Do existing apps play nicely together? Are new apps impacting network efficiency? In some cases, problems stem from poorly designed or insecure apps, while for others, current network bandwidth or latency may be the culprit.
As noted above, employees are willing to think creatively if their preferred SaaS applications don’t work as intended or they feel that IT-approved offerings don’t get the job done. Known as “shadow IT,” this trend is growing across enterprises and industry verticals as tech-savvy users use their growing knowledge of SaaS to find exactly the application they want, even if it presents a security risk. It’s no surprise that 20% of companies asked said they’d like to prevent shadow IT.
But realistically, that’s never going to happen. According to CIO, more companies now recognize this reality, with 41% of survey respondents looking to “better control and manage shadow IT” while 39% “want to embrace the practice and capitalize on its efforts and accomplishments.” The first step in both those scenarios is knowing exactly what employees are accessing, when and why.
What do all these issues have in common? Transparency. IT teams are only getting part of the picture when it comes to SaaS deployments—If they can see every application on the network, user behavior is beyond their reach. Alternatively, it’s possible to understand granular use cases but get left in the dark when it comes to SaaS, in turn making it difficult to track down the root cause of IT issues.
Solving for SaaS
So, what’s the SaaS solution? Slow-and-steady adoption can help reduce the problem of app sprawl and silos, while improving network foundations limits the impact of large-scale app adoption on performance. It’ll also help to create a cloud-first mentality and educate IT team members on how to think about and build off-premises infrastructure in a modern way.
While useful on their own, each of these efforts enjoys a substantial signal boost when paired with SaaS-based application and network performance management solutions capable of monitoring every cloud and every user across all locations. By combining automatic, continuous identification of all apps with real-time network monitoring and end-user analysis, companies gain the critical benefit of transparency: The ability to see what apps are doing, who’s using them and how they’re impacting networks.
SaaS is taking over the world. Apps are everywhere, users are tech-savvy and shifting software off-site is the easiest way to stay competitive. But it’s easy to lose your way, miss the forest for trees (or vice versa) when apps don’t play nicely, performance suffers and unapproved apps emerge. Get total visibility and see what’s out there—opt for best-of-breed SaaS application monitoring.
Request a free trial from AppNeta today and see how SaaS application monitoring could help your business accurately measure performance and reduce the risk of shadow IT.