The Top 4 Benefits of SaaS Tools - and When to Use Them
There benefits of SaaS tools are numerous and well-recognized. Top among those reasons are the ease that they can help devs focus, the flexibility and agility they offer and the ways they can be automated and integrated into existing systems.
It was a decade ago that engineer/investor Marc Andreessen wrote an article in The Wall Street Journal called, “Why Software is Eating the World.” He proved to be practically clairvoyant at the time.
Software applications play a part in so many aspects of our daily lives and software developers are the master artisans that are producing them. Like any artisan, they need the right tools to help them perform different tasks throughout the lifecycle process of their software creations. These different phases include designing, development, testing, maintenance, version control and upgrades.
When selecting the proper development life cycle tools for your toolset, the first thing to determine is whether to go with a traditional installed software approach or move towards a cloud-hosted model?
For many cloud-first organizations the answer may be a simple one, as cloud is the default option. It does seem like the world is going that way. But the cloud hasn’t taken over everything yet. Just as some may assume that no one would purchase a traditional hardware server today, there are situations in which a virtual server would not be best practice for a given situation.
For many, the question of whether to move towards the cloud is still debated, so let’s outline the four primary benefits that SaaS tools deliver.
1. Keep Your Development Team Focused
When you host a traditional software application or development tool, you are responsible for the hosting environment as well. You must worry about things like hardware, operating systems, upgrading, patching, backups and security concerns, including preventing your latest project files from being encrypted by ransomware. All of these are a distraction from the primary goal which is to create killer software.
You want to keep your development team focused on what they do best. Even if you have a dedicated IT support team to handle it all, there’s certainly something of greater value that they can do besides performing mundane support tasks. They can be creating value for the organization as well.
When you bundle something up “as a service” you are stripping away of those distractions and delivering the most up-to-date version of it. As-a-Service packages can help streamline your developmental efforts, saving you time, money and potential headaches.
2. Ability to Operate in Hybrid Environments
When companies rushed their employees out the door at the outset of COVID, most thought it would be a temporary circumstance. However, temporary situations have a way of becoming permanent ones. Other than a minority of old-school managers, most of us are realizing that the world has changed, and the hybrid work model is the new buzz phrase.
In a recent interview on CNBC, the COO of Salesforce announced that, “Work as we know it has changed forever.” According to Gartner, 31% of all workers worldwide will work in some type of hybrid context in 2022.
Hybrid means a combination of working both on and off premise. Management and employees will battle it out to determine what the makeup of each ends up being. (Read also: The Pros and Cons of a Hybrid Workforce.)
The ability for software developers to be able to access their tools regardless of location is important in a hybrid world as software developers need to be able to access their tools regardless of location. The utilization of cloud-based tools negates the need for VPNs and the bottlenecks they create as well as complex hardware configurations to accommodate remote access connections.
3. Greater Agility and Scalability
One of the primary motivators of digital transformation is the drive of organizations to gain greater agility and flexibility. Many companies are turning to staff augmentation strategies as an agile approach to hiring. Staff augmentation strategies help companies increase labor capacity on demand to meet temporary workload spikes and fill in skill set voids.
While these strategies are highly effective at right-sizing your workforce, they create a challenge for licensing applications. While having an insufficient number of licenses to handle incoming temporary personnel can hamper productivity, overcompensating through license overprovisioning wastes money. SaaS offerings offer greater scalability when it comes to license allocation for dynamic workforces.
The way in which we create software has evolved from the elongated process of waterfall modeling to an agile approach in which a development project is broken down into a series of sprints. The team members working through these sprints don’t have time for learning curves. They need to be able to work with the tools they are familiar with, if possible, to be productive from day one.
Giving developers the freedom to choose the cloud tools they are already familiar with helps ensure they don’t waste time learning interfaces and procedures that put them behind of aggressive development schedules. Giving your developers the freedom of choice can also serve as a recruiting tool to attract top talent. (Test Yourself: How Well Are You Managing the Apps in Your SaaS Environment?)
4. Integration and Automation
The trend is moving towards the cloud; hence a greater share of software development is directed at cloud-based applications. Integrating all your resources into the cloud environment then seems like a natural fit, especially in the case of public cloud providers that offer their own integrated tools. The cloud is ideally suited for data collection and analysis as resources are dynamically allocated.
SaaS packages can also release innovation at a faster pace, especially when it comes to automation and AI. One of the most exciting advances taking place right now is cloud based robotic process automation in which mundane tasks once completed by humans are now being performed by bots.
Things to Consider
While the cloud may seem like a no-brainer, there are some drawbacks that you must consider. One is the dependency on outside third parties that SaaS offerings create. Do you know how well their security strategies are implemented? How sure are you your SaaS provider will be around long term? (Read also: 11 Essential Steps for Implementing SaaS.)
Companies must consider the repercussions of losing access to their data for reasons out of their own control. How easy is to retrieve all your data if you cancel your subscription? Organizations that must comply with governmental or industry compliances may not be able to risk storing sensitive data off premise. For some companies, this this type of outsourcing may go against their very own security policies. Finally, there are plenty of organizations that have already invested a great deal of money into legacy on-premise systems and aren’t ready to abandon them.
There’s no doubt that cloud-based development life cycle tools offer a lot of benefits in a world that is growing more fluid each day. Every situation is different, and every management team must evaluate their needs.
As is often the case when it comes to IT technology, there is no right or wrong answer, only the solution that fits best at the time.