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Don’t Ignore SaaS Management, Gartner Advises

importance of saas management

SaaS is huge and getting bigger. But the market could be far hotter if SaaS wasn’t such a pain to manage. That’s the word from Gartner who tracks this market, and even invented the category SaaS Management Platform (SMP).

“Gartner forecasts that SaaS revenue (measured in constant currency) will be $119 billion in 2020, and that it will register a 13.6% compound annual growth rate for the period ending in 2024,” the company argued in its Hype Cycle for Software as a Service, 2020 report.

While 13.6 annual growth sounds great, it is not that impressive for technology as revolutionary as SaaS. SaaS applications themselves are robust and mature. Office 365, for example, does everything on-premises Office does – and more. But management, governance, and security are another story.

The problem is that modern SaaS solutions require new, and equally modern approaches to monitoring, governing and security. “Most Gartner clients are well into the journey of modernizing their application portfolio by adopting SaaS and rearchitecting legacy applications using cloud- native application architectures. Organizations must place much greater emphasis on the ability to effectively monitor, manage, secure and govern those investments,” Gartner advised.

The move to SaaS and SaaS management should proceed on parallel tracks. “As SaaS gains mainstream acceptance, the applications and operational control technologies that use and underpin it are progressing at various speeds to various states of evolution. As a service- provisioning platform, the work of SaaS is not complete,” Gartner believes. “The increasingly complex set of externally provisioned services creates formidable challenges that do not necessarily align with traditional IT roles and responsibilities. In many ways, the IT operational challenges, risks, support service models and gaps in controls stand in the way of enterprises’ ability to fully exploit the potential of SaaS.”

Given all this, Gartner doesn’t see SaaS making “on-premises software totally obsolete in the foreseeable future.”

COVID-19 Hastens SMP Market

COVID-19 dramatically changed the world of work, and with remote being the new rule, SaaS is the only way to go. That means all these new solutions have to be managed, secured, and governed. “Gartner has accelerated the speed at which we expect SMP to reach its next phase on the Hype Cycle for 2020. This is due to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on remote working which has driven more investment in SaaS tools. This investment is creating a proliferation of tool-specific management tasks for the growing SaaS portfolio while also increasing scrutiny of costs and utilization of IT assets; two areas SMPs can directly address,” the Gartner report stated.

What is an SMP?

So what is an SMP? “SaaS management platforms (SMPs) provide three core functions in the management of SaaS applications: discovery of known and unknown SaaS apps in use, workflow automation of management tasks across disparate SaaS tools and the unification or augmentation of platform- specific security functions. The key benefit of SaaS management platforms is the ability to use a single tool to manage a varied set of SaaS tools in use,” said Gartner analyst Chris Silva.

SMPs in large part exist because SaaS vendors are focused on their applications, not their management and security. “All enterprise-class SaaS applications offer their own, native management functions, but IT administrators lack a central dashboard to view utilization and entitlements or centrally automate IT administrative workflows across multiple SaaS applications. These tools are a key ingredient to manage SaaS applications at scale and consistently apply policies for use and data security,” Silva said.

The weaknesses in native, built-in SaaS management features is in many cases holding back SaaS adoption.  “SaaS applications often lack sufficient IT management capabilities forcing organizations to choose between delaying adoption or accepting suboptimal management capabilities. SMPs extend management and security capabilities to bridge these gaps and minimize trade-offs between manageability and need for a given SaaS application,” Gartner explained.

SMPs Ease Admin Pain

With limited native tools, SaaS admins are forced into many unnecessary manual duties. “Large IT organizations often rely on scripting (for example, through PowerShell) to automate bulk tasks, produce custom reports and fill gaps in the native SaaS administrative console. This can be time-consuming and detract from consistency in control (due to lack of clear ownership, regular updating and revision or peer review). SMPs can reduce or eliminate the amount of scripting administrators must use to manage their SaaS environments,” Gartner offered.

SMPs Driver Deeper, Actionable Analytics

SaaS solutions create and collect reams of event data, but often don’t know what to do with it. “As SMPs expand to address more SaaS applications, they will emerge as a key source for analytics data, with some vendors offering analysis of collaboration patterns among workers and across tools; acting as triggers to workflows in other systems and contributing to broader user experience measurement activities,” Gartner concluded.

Learn More about SMP and CoreView 

Learn more about Office 365 administration with a CoreView demo. Read the full white paper The SMP: A ‘Single Pane of Glass’ to Make SaaS Management More Secure, Streamlined & Cost-Effective here.

See how CoreView can help you with this

Learn more about securing and optimizing your M365 and other SaaS applications.

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Doug Barney
Doug Barney was the founding editor of Redmond Magazine, Redmond Channel Partner, Redmond Developer News and Virtualization Review. Doug also served as Executive Editor of Network World, Editor in Chief of AmigaWorld, and Editor in Chief of Network Computing.

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