What do you get when you add the #1 SaaS Management Platform (SMP) for Office 365 to the leading management platform that works across all SaaS solutions? The best of both worlds — the ability to go deep in managing, securing and driving adoption of critical Office 365 services with an added view of all other SaaS solutions – both company-approved and Shadow IT. One plus one equals three.
That is the simple but powerful math behind the acquisition of broad-based SaaS management vendor Alpin by Office 365 management, security and adoption master CoreView.
“Alpin greatly complements CoreView’s Office 365 solutions. With both, one plus one equals three and that is great news for large enterprises. Large enterprise customers have SaaS management needs beyond Office 365. Alpin handles many other SaaS applications – and discovers over 40,000 of them. Together, CoreView and Alpin are an even better solution for enterprise customers,” said Alpin co-founder and CEO Julien Denaes. “When we first looked at CoreView, we were impressed by so much. We are aligned as two teams — we have the same vision. We just took a different approach. CoreView went deep on Office 365 and we went broad with many integrations. In the end, the vision is the same — to provide the best SaaS Management Platform (SMP).”
With CoreView and Alpin, one plus one does truly equal three. “If you are an enterprise, it’s practically a no-brainer to use the combined CoreView/Alpin platform. So many enterprises run Office 365, and CoreView is unbelievably valuable for managing that. Then you get Alpin’s integrations and the ability to discover and manage all your other SaaS applications. You get the discovery, the financial management, the security and monitoring across your entire SaaS landscape – domain, and you save a lot of money by driving adoption of SaaS applications that you have already paid for,” said Alpin co-founder Mark Evans.
So let us look at eight ways CoreView and Alpin bring true synergies and epic reach to the SaaS management world.
1. Killer License Optimization and Incredible Savings
CoreView and Alpin both more than pay for themselves, usually immediately, through license and subscription savings.
CoreView solutions drive deep license savings – an average of 30% or more.
Other non-O365 SaaS costs are harder to pinpoint. For instance, a Cisco report found that large enterprises use over 1,200 cloud services on average, but fewer than 50 of those cloud services are known by IT. Meanwhile, in another survey, CIOs guessed that, on average, their companies have 51 cloud services. They actually had 15-22 times that amount!
Finally, Gartner research found that Shadow IT is 30-40% of total IT spend; the Everest group says it is 50% or more.
The good news is that Alpin addresses a broad spectrum of SaaS applications — 40,000-plus, and discovers both approved and Shadow SaaS apps, and tracks usage, costs, renewal schedules, and security and compliance status. Just like CoreView, Alpin drives deep license and subscription savings, with a typical reduction of 30%.
Alpin’s cost optimization features find unused licenses and determine which users could use lower-tier licenses at reduced cost. Moreover, Alpin tracks renewals, payments, and billing – all in one dashboard.
With Alpin, you can also:
- Reduce costs – optimize license costs (unused and underutilized licenses, and redundant applications).
- Avoid penalties – comply with license requirements, which exist even for cloud apps.
- Avoid surprises – be alerted to all upcoming renewals.
- Negotiate smarter – leverage app usage details to gain an advantage in renewal discussions.
2. Impeccable SaaS Management and Adminstration
Managing and administering Microsoft Office 365 is hard enough, but IT should also understand what other SaaS applications are kicking around and bring them all under IT control.
CoreView takes care of all your Office 365 management needs with a single pane of glass far easier and more powerful than the native Office 365 Admin Center. Instead of complex, error-prone labor-intensive PowerShell scripts, CoreView offers automation and workflows for common and unique admin tasks.
What about all the other SaaS applications, including approved solutions such as Salesforce.com, and the potential thousands of unapproved Shadow IT apps cluttering up your environment? The fact is, you have way more SaaS apps than you think. Did you know that on average there are 0.5 to 1 unique SaaS apps per user? These should all be discovered — and in some cases blocked.
Approved SaaS applications, on the other hand, need to be managed. As Gartner points out, native SaaS management consoles tend to be underpowered and overly complex. “While SaaS applications have their own native management consoles, the depth of their capabilities often doesn’t completely meet enterprise requirements. SMPs provide additional capabilities to fill these gaps. Today, these products mostly focus on managing specific SaaS environments (e.g., Office 365),” Gartner explained in a report of SMPs.
CoreView already provisions and deprovisions (onboard and offboarding) users more quickly and safely than the native O365 Admin Center through automation and Workflow Templates.
Alpin does the same for your other core SaaS workflow capabilities. Alpin workflows onboard new employees and offboard them when they leave. These same workflows address other IT, HR and departmental issues.
Meanwhile mistakes during onboarding and offboarding can create serious company liabilities such as data breaches and data leakage. In one case, an Alpin customer had not removed an employee from a mission-critical SaaS app for over three years. With native consoles, onboarding and offboarding takes time and could leave mistakes, especially if employees use dozens of SaaS apps. Now you can leverage Alpin’s workflow assistance to do this faster.
Reporting is another area where native admin consoles fall down. CoreView offers hundreds of built-in reports for everything Office 365. Alpin brings that style of reporting to all the rest of your SaaS applications. Alpin produces reports based on category, geography, or other factors. You can also tag and report on virtually any criteria you create; generate reports immediately based on application category from Alpin’s 40,000-plus application database.
3. Superior Governance
While a broad topic, in short IT governance is all about aligning IT and IT solutions with business needs and strategy so that IT helps the organization meet key goals and objectives.
In Gartner’s view, “IT governance (ITG) is defined as the processes that ensure the effective and efficient use of IT in enabling an organization to achieve its goals. IT demand governance (ITDG—what IT should work on) is the process by which organizations ensure the effective evaluation, selection, prioritization, and funding of competing IT investments; oversee their implementation; and extract (measurable) business benefits,” the research house explains.
In the case of Office 365 governance, the Microsoft SaaS platform must be secure so it does not threaten business viability, cost effective so it does not harm the bottom line, a maximizer of productivity so it strengthens the bottom line, and reasonably easy to manage so IT can optimize use and quickly solve productivity sapping problems.
Office 365 must also be managed in what Gartner calls “an effective, efficient and compliant fashion,” which means IT administrators must be highly skilled and working with a large enough staff to master all O365 complexities, or get a technology solution that does this for them.
CoreView solves the problem of lack of governance for Office 365 that relate to security, cost, and end user productivity – which is realizing the full value of the Office 365 investment.
The same standards apply to your other SaaS solutions. Governance is one reason Information Security (InfoSec) folks are buying Alpin – because Alpin supports their overall Governance, Regulation and Compliance (GRC) efforts. Part of this is securing their SaaS platform. A big issue here are undiscovered Shadow IT apps that are compliance and security risks, and sap productivity when they are used in place of corporate standard applications that should be shared by all employees.
Governance, as Gartner suggests, speaks to choosing the right technologies from which one “extracts (measurable) business benefits.” Moving workers from non-standard Shadow apps to approved and supported cloud software relied upon by all increases productivity and produces those measurable benefits.
Alpin, meanwhile, uncovers risky 3rd party app permissions, revokes user access, or blacklists entire apps when need be.
CoreView plus Alpin deeply addresses the lack of governance across a broad range of SaaS applications.
4. Complete Compliance
Compliance is a two-pronged issue. First is ensuring that end users and your IT environment is compliant with corporate and IT policies. Here CoreView sets and monitors company compliance policies are, among other things, greatly reduces perimeter breaches. Breaches are just the start. CoreView offers 200+ customizable reports that cover all aspects of Office 365 usage and activity, so IT clearly knows if employees are following company policies and keeping files secure.
The other issue is compliance in the more formal sense with regulations such as GDPR. Alpin applies its compliance solution to thousands of SaaS tools, insuring adherence to GDPR and other regulations.
With Alpin, you can:
- Identify and prioritize vendors that process personal data that you control. Alpin lists your cloud application vendors and links to each company’s public statements on GDPR or any other certifications.
- Contact those vendors to request information on their compliance status. Reach out directly or view the owner of that vendor relationship and ask them to handle it for you.
- Provide reports that demonstrate due diligence and highlight stats around GDPR-ready vendors. Alpin already lists your cloud application vendors and links to each company’s public statements on GDPR. Contact those vendors to request information on their compliance status.
- Provide reports that demonstrate due diligence and highlight stats around GDPR-ready vendors.
- Tag and report on vendors that have passed your audits. Analyze spend, user stats, and more around compliant, non-compliant, and exempt vendors.
5. Deeper Workload Usage Analysis and Adoption
In terms of Software Asset Management (SAM), Office 365 is often an enterprise’s biggest asset — and they are spending 30% more than they need to for it. If you manage that asset properly, there are many savings that can be applied to other areas of IT. That is a compelling value statement.
Meanwhile, CoreView customers also need to understand what else is out there on their network in terms of SaaS. With Alpin, Office 365 shops can also discover alternatives to Microsoft workloads like Slack, Dropbox, Zoom, and WebEx, and use CoreView to move these workers over to approved O365 services such as Microsoft Teams.
Understanding who is using what is critical for enterprise accounting, fairness and economic efficiency. “In larger organizations, finance is actually interested for one specific reason — they want to charge back. They want to understand how much they are spending on Salesforce or ZenDesk or on X, Y, Z vendor,” noted Julien Denaes, Alpin CEO. “They need to know many contracts they have and therefore how they can charge that back to department, country one, two, three or even teams and departments. Suddenly it becomes interesting to have usage monitoring and spending on just one screen. They can get the spending for a specific SaaS tool from a certain date to a following date, as well as other dimensions such as department, teams or location. This is also crucial when there are mergers or acquisitions.”
6. Stifling Shadow IT with Unparalleled Discovery
Shadow IT sounds cool on the surface. Tech-savvy end users and departments discover hot cloud apps they love and put to work. However, there are security, cost and even productivity downsides. Cloud apps that are that good should be vetted, and if proven, approved and even made standard. Ones that do not meet this threshold have no place in the enterprise. Finding the right answer means discovering and analyzing these hidden apps. “This discovery is immensely useful for Office 365 shops. They can see that many workers aren’t using core Office 365 applications, but instead using Shadow IT apps that are not a corporate standard. This wastes money since Office 365 is already paid for, and creates a huge security problem and data leakage vulnerability,” said Julian Denaes, Alpin CEO. “With Alpin, you can identify things you might want to migrate away from to something else such as Office 365 services. Microsoft is really pushing Microsoft Teams. Therefore, customers of CoreView need to understand who is on WebEx, who is on Zoom, and who are their Slack users in order to migrate them to Microsoft Teams. Having a way to discover those users on those applications is a way to help them migrate them – to redirect users to adopt the right tool – which is Microsoft.”
Alpin tracks more than 40,000 SaaS app, using 13 discovery methods. This way, Alpin gives IT a full picture of the SaaS environment.
With Alpin discovery, you will:
- Gain visibility – view all SaaS applications in one dashboard, along with all users.
- Work with the business – help business users choose the best solutions and use those apps to their full potential.
- Monitor usage – see app growth among teams, departments, geographies and across the company.
7. Bulletproof Security
Shadow IT apps are a huge security liability. However, approved SaaS apps are no security picnic either.
For Office 365, CoreView’s CoreSecurity prevents security incidents with continuous security assessments to detect, alert and correct vulnerabilities. CoreSecurity helps IT figure out whether or not the Office 365 environment is secure, and if users are in full compliance with the IT policies.
Understanding security-related data is critical. Microsoft usage and login data offer a wealth of information for tracking down and staying ahead of security breaches – but is hard to analyze and apply. CoreSecurity mines that data for you, offering fine-grained compliance reporting that would take months to acquire manually, and alerting you to incidents in real time, not weeks later.
CoreSecurity provides in-depth audits of user activity from different services like Exchange, Teams, Dynamics, OneDrive, SharePoint and Azure AD. Moreover, Office 365 only stores logs for 90 days, while CoreView provides a year of logs by default. Additionally, CoreView logs are human readable and come with added information like country and department.
Alpin has similarly strong security chops. “Security is a nightmare. G Suite user companies in particular have security issues. You can sign into applications using G Suite the same way you sign in with Gmail. We will find companies, say a 10,000-person company, which might have 5,000 applications people sign into every time they do a simple login. They grant that application access to corporate data and then forget about it. We find crazy stuff like that, and it is on the Office 365 side as well,” said Alpin co-founder Mark Evans. “File sharing is another big issue. You can look at people who are sharing company data through OneDrive or similar solutions like Google Drive. Too often users share these files publicly, like sharing the company budget with outsiders. We have the ability to put the kibosh on that sort of stuff, lock things down and give IT a peaceful sleep.”
With Alpin, you will:
- Know your threats – monitor apps for risky data access permissions.
- Prevent breaches – blacklist undesirable and dangerous applications, so no one can use them.
- Prevent data leakage – identify inappropriate file sharing across platforms (O365, Box, Drive, etc.)
- Investigate quickly – report on cloud application activity and usage.
- View the activity history of each user and each app so you can see what is really going on (and do forensic audits).
- See vendor’s compliance status against certifications and regulations like ISO, SOC, GDPR, Privacy Shield, etc.
- Understand landscape – report on cloud application activity, usage, and access to personal information, corporate IP, etc., as well as file and folder sharing.
- Stay informed – view notifications highlighting important activity such as new users, applications, and extensions; shared documents; risky permissions; and news about vendor data breaches.
- Investigate quickly – search activity histories.
- See which applications have access to sensitive corporate data.
8. Worry-Free Winning Renewals
Microsoft Office 365 Enterprise Agreement (EA) renegotiation can be a tense time. However, with the right information from CoreView, you can save 30% on Office 365 license costs. You do not even have to buy our product to get this. The free CoreView Office 365 Health Check scans and analyzes your entire Office 365 environment, finds every license, then determines four things:
- What percentage of licenses are actually used
- What amount of licenses are unused — perhaps because the employee left or simply stopped using the software
- How many licenses are unassigned, and thus free to be returned or reallocated
- Amongst used licenses, what are the workloads and do the licenses match the actual or desired usage
The CoreView Office 365 Health Check is a comprehensive Office 365 deep scan, analysis and assessment of your entire Microsoft SaaS environment.
One large enterprise, okay very large, identified $14 million in potential annual savings through our Health Check. That enterprise used CoreView’s deep license analytics to renegotiate its EA deal – much to company executives delight!
This license analysis is a critical basis of any EA negotiation. “Heading to negotiations with the right information is a key factor in the success of any negotiation. Having current licenses, hardware, and software information gathered in advance, and having it organized in an accessible way is a critical step,” said Emerset Consulting Group in its article Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid When Negotiating with Microsoft.
The Office 365 Health Check gets you started in understanding license status, CoreView’s CoreAdmin goes deeper, and is a long-term the solution that continually dives deep into license cost savings and optimization opportunities by providing references to each inactive or unassigned license. Once you have negotiated a good (or even great) EA renewal deal, you can track ongoing use to make sure you are always getting the best bang for your buck.
Alpin brings the best of what CoreView does for license renewal to your other SaaS solutions, including:
- Mastering renewals: Be notified of key upcoming renewals. Now you take control of negotiations instead of being surprised.
- Negotiate better: Use Alpin reports for a deep dive on actual license counts, utilization and user activity.
- Avoid undesired auto-renewals: Comprehensive calendars show all deals up for renewal.
- Don’t lose access: Ensure desired contracts don’t expire from neglect.