5 Reasons SaaS and Cloud Hosted Apps Need to Live in Harmony

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Cloud9 Real Time asked me to write a guest post from the assumption that all businesses use both SaaS (software-as-a-service) apps as well as Cloud Hosted apps. In fact, Cloud9’s hypothesis is that most small to medium-sized businesses use both and need to use both depending on their type and sophistication of business.

First, let’s define 3 types of “apps” that live today. Ok, maybe there might be more, but for the purposes of this post – you get three.

  • SaaS (Software-as-a-Service): runs on a server in the public cloud (the internet). Sign up, set up and operation can all be done by anyone as long as they have a credit card. QuickBooks Online is a great example of this type of app.
  • Cloud Hosted: run on a server in a private (hosted) cloud. Usually purchased and set up by an IT department, software development team or a technical resource. Accessed via the private cloud (so it is done online), but within that private environment. QuickBooks can be cloud hosted.
  • Installed: purchased on line, but downloaded to a local machine (desktop or server). QuickBooks is a great example of this type of app, but Intuit has other options mentioned above.

I did some basic research and according to firms like cloud app analytics and policy firm Netskope small to medium-sized businesses use between 300-400 “apps” to run their companies of which 90% is not controlled by IT.

Whereas other sources like Intermedia suggest in their SMB Cloud Landscape Report that the average number of apps per SMB (small to medium-sized business) use an average of 14.3 apps to operate with the average employee needing to use 5.5 apps to do their jobs.

My business career started in 2001 when fresh out of college I went to work in the IT department offor AT&T Wireless (McCaw Cellular was recently purchased by AT&T who started a wireless division). This was back when (as I recall) almost all software was installed and ran locally on servers, but made accessible through the corporate Internet. The term “apps” was just coming on the scene, Smartphones were called PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) and cell phones were going from ginormous to tiny.

I’ve seen a lot come and go and how businesses have used technology and even designed and taken to market a few pieces of software myself. From what I can surmise, here are the top 5 reasons why I predict SaaS and Cloud Hosted Apps need to continue to live in harmony.

5. They are still making software that needs to be installed

While this is becoming less frequent, there are companies still delivering software in which the user must download an application to their desktops to operate. This software used to have to be installed to the desktop machine itself via CD (compact disk). Now, you download the software onto your desktop from the internet. Avast Anti Virus software, Snagit and Adobe Photoshop are just a few examples of software that still needs to be installed on your computer.  And lets not forget about the suite of Microsoft products being used.

It does appear that the way of the physical CD is going extinct, but a small to medium-sized business using 100% SaaS apps is not coming soon. Although I know several one-man consulting firms like JoshClark|Is that only use SaaS applications to operate, so it is possible.

4. Internal IT departments need control of the desktop environment

In order to provide the best levels of security for the desktop environment, IT departments like to have control over the desktops of workers. This means, for good reason, they can limit the web site browsing of users to avoid users stumbling upon viruses on sites that contain mal ware (as one example). The Benefits of DaaS (Desktop as a Service) explains how this gives control over the desktop environment for IT in more detail.

3. SaaS apps provide innovation

Before Salesforce.com came along, sales people were not easily able to manage their sales process. A lot of sales people were tracking their leads, opportunities and sales conversations in a spreadsheet without the benefit of automating follow up tasks or getting a visual of their sales pipeline. This was innovative and changed the sales game for a lot of companies.

Once software like Salesforce.com, Bill.com, Avalara and other SaaS applications came to market, their development teams also learned to deliver code to users at a faster pace. So, instead of delivering new function once every year, it is delivered once per quarter.

2. Today’s businesses require flexibility and mobility

Today’s workers can have a hybrid environment to get the best of both worlds. Workers can access their Private Virtual Server via the Cloud9 mobile app on their iPad, but at the same time use Saleforce.com (for example) as their CRM in their Chrome Browser which is also accessible on their iPad. Their Cloud9 environment provides access to all the desktop applications their IT department has set up giving them the flexibility of accessing it on their mobile device.

Your IT department is happy because they have provided you with a secure, backed up and managed desktop environment for you and you have the flexibility and mobility to access the SaaS apps you need to do your job.

1. Some CEOs/Owners like to monitor using methods outside walls

In the last 10 years I have personally worked with or been the CEO of a business. CEO’s do things differently and in all honesty, do not much care for being put in a box – it is why they are CEOs.

So, it is not unusual that CEOs will often purchase (sometimes with their own money) software apps to monitor how the rest of the company is doing. For example, a few CEOs I know have purchased the SaaS product MarketingManager, a dashboard reporting software to help them monitor the ROI of their marketing and sales teams.

At first glance, this may seem a bit deceiving, but it keeps workers and team members from gaming the system and providing false reporting. Many CEOs share with me the trust, but verify performance method and a software like MarketingManager employed outside the IT environment helps them do this.

Will there ever be a time when every business application runs outside the (digital) walls of small to medium-sized businesses? This remains to be seen, but from my perspective and experience, if there are human beings involved there will always be a place for cloud hosted apps and SaaS apps to live together in harmony.

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Sarah Gardiner

All stories by: Sarah Gardiner