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SaaS: Too Much of a Good Thing?

By Aaron Rudger | September 12, 2014

CATEGORIES: Web Performance
"ST TroubleWithTribbles" by Star Trek: The Original Series episode, "The Trouble With Tribbles". Licensed under Fair use of copyrighted material in the context of Tribble via Wikipedia

Arguably the most popular episode of Star Trek is "Trouble With Tribbles" where a cuddly and seemingly benign creature stealthily multiplies and creates a huge problem for Kirk and his crew. Much like the Enterprise in Star Trek, corporate enterprises have reached a similar tipping point with the wide spread adoption of software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications.

Forrester Research claims that SaaS penetration will surpass 50 percent this year, with organizations using an average of four solutions simultaneously and it’s expected to double in 2015.1 Businesses site agility is the number one benefit of moving to SaaS, but as enterprises become deeper and more widely reliant on SaaS applications, the lack of visibility, control over performance and availability threatens the promise of agility and maximizing business outcomes. Can having access to the performance data of your SaaS applications make the difference for a resilient organization?

It Just Works

I use Salesforce, Marketo, Netsuite and Office 365 and what’s cool is that here at Keynote they are all integrated with at least one other app. They work really well most of  the time. Back in the day, when your Siebel app would hang (and it did that a lot), you’d call the IT team to fix it. Part of the beauty of SaaS is that it just works. Nowadays, you don’t hear about big outages, but does that mean issues never happen?

Most SaaS vendors actually guarantee their service levels at 99.9 percent uptime. 99.9 percent availability translates into about 43 minutes of downtime per month. That’s not a lot of time, but the more a SaaS app is used across the enterprise, the more any interruption in service is magnified. These interruptions are like paper cuts (or tribbles), and they can add up fast. Added to that, when the apps are integrated with each other, the opportunity for an outage to occur compounds. What if the interruption happens in Netsuite when your accounting team is trying to close the quarter? Or right after you launch a huge marketing campaign and thousands of prospects are trying to visit your landing pages?

Trust-marketo

But What Can I Do?

Any SaaS vendor worth their salt posts a “Trust” site which provides information about service status and disruptions. This transparency facilitates accountability for service delivery. When an outage or slowdown occurs, you’ll usually find a thorough explanation of the duration, user impact and root cause which eventually comes after a thorough assessment has been made and shared publically.

When performance issues happen—and they will—the logical question to ask is what to do next? The answer depends a lot on when and how you become aware of the issue, and who is impacted. If you’re relying on a “Trust” site, that information may not be timely or actionable enough to be useful.

Employees will most likely call your service desk when internal-facing systems flake out. Managing help desk tickets is a costly affair. But arming your service management team with detailed information about the health of the SaaS app at issue can reduce the time to diagnose and resolve. Maybe the issue is actually due to a WAN configuration change and only impacts a certain location. Or certain laptop endpoint background updates made the app run slower for a given period of time. The key is having data to quickly eliminate false positives and the problems within your control.

External-facing SaaS apps are trickier. Customers or partners tend to go away without saying anything, making immediate notification of service disruption/degradation even more important. With a proactive approach to monitoring your external-facing SaaS apps in real time, you can quickly make course corrections to mitigate interruptions. For example, in the case of the landing page, you might re-route visitors to a static server page or your LinkedIn company page. Actionable data makes the difference.

Trust But Verify

SaaS applications can get your business to a more agile state. You’ve already started the journey and are seeing great results. The coverage of a service level guarantee narrows as app adoption grows. Now is the time to start looking at performance before it tips the scale. Ask yourself whether you have the data you need to effectively optimize the business processes your SaaS apps are supporting today. Get proactive.

Let us show you Keynote's Web Monitoring for SaaS Applications solution today. Built on our leading active monitoring platform, this out-of-the-box offering is designed to help you get the most from Salesforce.com, Netsuite, Marketo and Office365. As the global leader in cloud-based testing, monitoring and analytics for mobile and web, now is the best time to get started with Keynote.

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