Why building successful SaaS delivery is easier than you think
Software as a service (SaaS) is becoming ubiquitous. It is estimated that enterprises currently use 16 SaaS applications on average, yet one in seven of these businesses also believe that more than 80% of their applications will be SaaS-based by 2020.
This would seem an especially accurate assessment too by enterprises, as the current market for SaaS products and services is worth £54 billion, yet it is expected to jump to over £85 billion by 2021.
Based on this upward trajectory, SaaS application providers clearly have a huge opportunity on offer. However, how can they maximise it?
As ThousandEyes works with some of the top SaaS providers around the world, we’ve gleaned five key, operational ‘habits’ for successful delivery. Importantly, it is key to realise that successful delivery doesn’t just focus on your own company’s culture, or strategic direction, or even your operational knowledge. It also encompasses relationships with customers, vendors and other third-party providers.
Don’t point the finger so quickly
Every SaaS provider knows they will face up to both application and network issues, regardless of how good their product is. However, when it comes to actually solving these performance issues, the network tends to be singled out for blame first. This means your network team needs to prove its innocence before your application team will deal with the problem. With this type of culture, it can be a huge distraction from dealing with the issue at hand, while also stunting team collaboration, which will help with resolving issues quicker. Getting your teams to provide a quick view of network health, with application context, can define where the issue lies and be a huge help in dealing with problems.
Relationship with third-parties need to change
A simple fact for the vast majority of service providers is they can’t investigate, or even acknowledge, all performance-related inquiries they receive on a daily basis, due to finite resources. This situation can make resolving issues quite a challenge for you, as a SaaS provider, particularly if there’s no actual data to work off to show a fault.
A natural byproduct of this is that you can fall into a quite unproductive routine of trying to escalate problems, yet your service provider prefers to deny, deflect and defer.
Most of your third party providers will not spend their time troubleshooting for you, particularly if they are responsible on fixing an issue, or, especially if they may face a service level agreement (SLA) penalty.
Evidence in this scenario is critical. Forget mantras like ‘find and fix’, instead you need to adopt an ‘evidence and escalate’ approach. This involves having a proven set of steps to collate evidence, regardless of if you do not control certain services or networks, in order to successfully escalate an issue.
With this approach, you are no longer relying solely on your external providers. Instead, you’ve taken control of the process and the benefits are significant, including reducing the time it takes to resolve problems, while also having the knock-on effect of benefiting the user’s overall digital experience.
Deal with customers in the right way
Every day, SaaS providers maintain an illusion. They provide a seamlessly delivered application, yet behind the curtain, they work extremely hard to build a unified customer experience, despite many different complex components and reliance on third parties. It is a very hard balancing act for providers. They can’t afford a questionable Internet service provider (ISP), a compromised domain name system (DNS) cache, or false route advertisements, or broken API endpoints.
However, when something goes wrong, as a provider, it is essential that you can speedily attribute responsibility to the right part of the user experience. This is not just to resolve the issue itself, but also so you can communicate with users quickly and effectively, which is crucially important as today’s end users demand a huge level of transparency.
In order to do this, active networking monitoring is the solution. This technology can provide an unrivalled, clear view of the application delivery path from your customers, all the way to your application servers. This provides a precise understanding of where and why something isn’t working and also enable you to update your customers in a transparent and insightful way.
Monitor interservice communication that includes external networks
The majority of SaaS providers are relying on external APIs for their user experience now. This ranges from things like payment gateways and customer relationship management (CRM) databases. Yet anytime an external API is used, it becomes part of the application stack and, thus, needs to be managed. Again, you need to keep a close eye on when and why your APIs are available and performing (or not), to deal with any issues impacting on the user experience.
The lifecycle can’t end when monitoring your service
Sometimes monitoring can be treated as just an operations practice, in order to ensure service uptime. Yet, this is short-sighted as having access to data early in the application journey can be really useful for enabling you to make better choices around application architecture and network.
For example, your choice of the location of data centres or workloads in public cloud providers can have a significant impact on service delivery. Therefore, with issues like this, you need to have detailed, visual, and reportable data that charts every aspect of user experience from web server, to network path, to Internet routing. This information is like gold dust before rolling out a new service, enabling you to remove (as much as possible) the risk from your most important SaaS planning decisions.
One thing to keep in mind about these five habits is that they rely on end-to-end visibility, which can be provided by leading network monitoring solutions. This enables a huge degree of transparency in performance across not just your own application, but also your providers. With visibility at the heart of your approach you can really change, for the better, how you deliver your SaaS application, while also future-proofing your performance to make sure you maximise the huge opportunity that is developing in the market.
Interested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their experiences and use-cases? Attend the Cyber Security & Cloud Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam to learn more.
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