Microsoft 365 may be a joy to use, but it certainly doesn’t manage itself. This premiere SaaS solution must be configured, secured, fixed when problems arise, have licenses assigned and retired – and myriad other admin tasks performed.
That has led to an entire software industry making M365 easier for IT to handle. “Microsoft 365 management software helps businesses gain visibility and insights into their Microsoft 365 suite, which includes Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, as well as other email, file storage, and mobile app solutions. Overall, Microsoft 365 is typically used to improve productivity, communication, and organization,” explained customer software review website G2. “In addition to the many monitoring features, Microsoft 365 management solutions assist with granular administrative tasks such as setting up employee devices, granting user permissions, and setting up alerts for critical tasks,” G2 continued.
The Microsoft 365 management third party ecosystem arose because Microsoft is focused first and foremost on the M365 applications, which they sell, not the M365 Admin Center which is given for free. “Businesses often leverage Microsoft 365 management software because it contains tools that are more robust than those included within Microsoft 365. Reporting features in particular offer users deep key insights into the organization and products included in the business’ Microsoft 365 setup. The reports are granular and provisioned with information that assists with operational efficiency,” G2 explained.
Microsoft Microsoft 365 is an amazing suite of applications and services. That is why there are well over 200 million business users today. The downside is most of Microsoft’s development effort has been put into items for the end-user — great features, terrific interface, excellent inter-application integration, and amazing worker productivity. As Gartner argues, management and administration do not get nearly as much attention when it comes to SaaS, and native administrative capabilities do not always meet enterprise requirements. Gartner spotted these administrative shortcomings and coined the term SaaS Management Platform (SMP), referring to solutions like CoreView that go deep in managing SaaS, and greatly simplify the job of administration.
M365 is not the only SaaS platform that needs extra help with management. Other complex platforms including G Suite require third party assistance for proper management. This has led to the idea of the SaaS Management Platform (M365) of which M365 management is a category of solution.
Now that on-premises software is giving way to cloud applications or SaaS, IT needs a new way to take charge. SaaS Management – including Microsoft 365 management — is the new buzzword, and Gartner believes these solutions are so critical and rich in capabilities that they are actual platforms.
Gartner coined the term in SMP late 2018 in a white paper The SMP: A ‘Single Pane of Glass’ to Make SaaS Management More Secure, Streamlined & Cost-Effective.
The issue with software is that even the easiest applications to use can be a beast to manage. While the cloud relieves a lot of the on-premises IT burden, SaaS brings with it new things IT must worry about.
The core issues is that for nearly all SaaS solutions, management is an afterthought. “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., Microsoft 365),” Gartner explained.
While Gartner invented the category roughly a year and half ago, it has not stood still. In fact, the research giant now believes five new categories are crucial to a good SMP solution, including:
So what exactly is in an SMP? If you want to know precisely what an SMP is, just look at what CoreView offers. There are six main categories of function: Administration, Role-Based Access Control, Policy Management, License Management, IT Workflow Automation, and Reporting. That fits CoreView to a T, except that we add Security and Compliance, Change Management (Application Adoption), and Learning and Taxonomy as additional fundamental categories of function.
As Gartner explained, native SaaS administration consoles, including the Microsoft 365 Admin Center , have a plentiful supply of limitations. This forces admins to created complex scripts, PowerShell in the case of Microsoft 365, which take a long time to write and run, and are terribly prone to error. This delays the rollout of new M365 services, limits the ability to manage the environment, and increases risk. All this erodes the value of the Microsoft 365 solution you invested so much in.
Gartner argues that security, compliance and policy management are the biggest SaaS sources of IT pain. While an SMP can help these areas, there is much more they can do. In the case of CoreView, we also deliver deep license savings and optimization, a single pane of glass to manage all services, forensic auditing to track and block breach sources, and workload analysis to help drive adoption.
CoreView founders were system integrators solving Microsoft 365 visibility and reporting problems. Customers asked for more and more help, so now we have an easy way to totally manage Microsoft 365, tighten security and compliance, and get end users productive on all Microsoft 365 apps. CoreView empowers IT teams to be incredibly efficient, which empowers them to help drive their organizations forward, faster.
Our founders realized that if you do not address these Microsoft 365 challenges, you face millions of dollars in unneeded licensing fees, suffer security vulnerabilities, and fail to maximize your investment in Microsoft 365 productivity tools. Our founders also realized that with a solution like CoreView, Microsoft 365 users can optimize and “right-size” their license spend, mitigate risk by identifying security vulnerabilities and maximize their investment in Microsoft 365 through adoption campaigns and just-in-time learning.
There are some critical Microsoft 365 challenges that CoreView addresses, many falling under the area of governance: visibility, RBAC (role-based access control), license management, adoption, provisioning and deprovisioning, and misconfiguration — which is solved through Policy Management.