Tips for Mastering Your SaaS Provider Relationship
by Christine Cignoli on

In this modern world of IT, you’ve probably got some new colleagues in your life—namely, the cloud and SaaS providers who now hold your infrastructure in their hands.

These business relationships—yes, they’re technology-based, but cloud and SaaS are business models—will become as important to your IT team and your company as the hardware and software you used to install. Once you’ve adopted SaaS, or inherited SaaS, it’s on you to avoid price hikes, licensing issues and app or provider sprawl. Budgeting for these apps, which means understanding their pricing models, is also likely in IT’s hands.

There are plenty of challenges to adopting SaaS applications, and then challenges that will emerge once you’ve had those applications in place for awhile. Entire businesses today are running on SaaS applications, so it’s time to understand IT’s role in managing and improving SaaS provider relationships.

1. Track essential metrics.

Moving applications to the SaaS model will change the way you measure success. However, you can bring some of the same network metrics you’ve always used into the cloud world, such as latency, capacity and jitter. Moving an application like Office to the Office 365 model will definitely bring latency, so it’ll help to know these numbers before and after deployment. Then you’ll know how much is acceptable and what’s too much for your users.

2. Keep track of changes at SaaS providers.

In keeping with the flexible, agile nature of SaaS and cloud computing, there will likely be changes with your providers during your relationship with them. These could include adding or dropping features and integrations. Some of these will be what your business needs, and some won’t. No matter what, though, stay on top of vendor announcements and releases. Ideally, you’ll get the best of your provider’s technology. If you’re not, you’ll know when to find a new provider that can align its products and features with what your business and users need.

3. Be the performance monitor.

You have more control than you think over performance of cloud and SaaS apps. For each SaaS application, understand what kind of performance the users of that app will require. Prioritize them accordingly based on the number of users and frequency of use. A trading or finance application is more critical and time-based, while word processing like Google Docs can be slightly slower. You can also monitor your network and application performance now with tools like AppNeta Performance Manager, so you’re able to hold providers (including ISPs) accountable for any issues. In addition, seeing performance changes over time will let you allot SaaS licenses accordingly and not overpay providers.

4. Read the SLA fine print.

While reading an SLA page by page may sound daunting, these agreements can mean the difference between slightly annoyed users and days’ worth of lost business due to an outage. These are documents that are tightly tied to budget and usage, both of which will likely change over time at your organization. Be sure the SLA you signed, or inherited, is still accurate to your particular situation. Also make sure you know what will happen if the provider fails to fix a problem, or if you need to cancel the service.

5. Embrace the SaaS model.

Businesses are moving to SaaS and cloud quickly, so even if you change providers over time for various apps and services, you’ll still be dealing with a SaaS model.

There will be all too many SaaS app providers involved in your business that you don’t have any control over. But it’s essential to work yourself into the discussion so you know how to prepare your network for SaaS adoption, then track performance and usage changes.

Ultimately, working with providers is just another part of your job in this new IT environment. You’re still the technology expert, and that will serve you well in managing these provider relationships.

Filed Under: Performance Monitoring

Tags: SaaS applications , SaaS providers