SaaS platforms also offer flexibility. When user numbers increase, resources can be dialled up to support them. If and when they decline, that capacity can quickly be removed.
However, while they have much to offer and are growing in capabilities everyday, SaaS platforms also come with some challenges. One of the biggest is finding a way to continuously monitor their performance and overcome any issues that might arise.
Dubbed “SaaS blindness”, this challenge increases as more SaaS resources are used by an organisation. If you don’t have insight into how the platforms are performing, it’s tough to keep things running optimally at all times.
One of the key problems is that SaaS usage can be affected by a range of external forces and events. These include internet outages, changes to routing settings, firewall configurations, and SaaS load balancing.
Better monitoring is required
To gain an insight into all the moving parts, organisations need to find an effective way to continuously monitor their SaaS platforms and users. It’s becoming increasingly clear that flying blind is not an option and can lead to costly, unplanned outages and business disruptions.
Unfortunately, the existing legacy monitoring tools your organisation is likely to have in place are not suitable when it comes to SaaS platforms. Also, traditional code injection techniques won’t work as they are not allowed by the platform operators. In essence, SaaS becomes a “block box” when it comes to legacy monitoring approaches.
To be effective, a SaaS monitoring solution needs to incorporate holistic internet outage tracking so that any issues can be identified and quickly overcome. Also, it’s important to have high-quality sensors in place that track user activity and traffic. Any roadblocks or failures that occur can then be spotted and resolved.
It should be remembered that, while SaaS platform operators have excellent monitoring systems in place within their cloud, this is not where your users will be. You need constant visibility across all ISPs being used to gain an accurate picture of exactly what is going on and the conditions being experienced by users.
A change of mindset
Achieving effective SaaS monitoring also requires a change in the mindset of the IT teams tasked with the challenge. Rather than having a reactive “find and fix” mentality they need to shift to a more proactive “evidence and escalate” mindset.
Instead of sitting in front of a terminal trying to figure out why your Salesforce.com or Office 365 services are not functioning well, they need to be able to gather evidence of the origins of the issue and then identify the best way it can be resolved. Armed with the evidence obtained through monitoring, you’re in a much stronger position to ask the right questions of your SaaS and internet services providers.
With such a proactive mindset in place, the IT teams will also be better able to test out critical applications prior to making major updates or completing a migration. This will minimise the risks and ensure SaaS users are not left with frustrating outages or degradation of services.
Integrating with your existing monitoring stack
Interestingly, when many organisations come to assess their SaaS monitoring approaches, they take the opportunity to also re-evaluate their IT monitoring more broadly. Many opt to reduce the number of monitoring tools they are using and focus on just a handful of critical solutions.
It should be remembered that there is no one correct answer when it comes to deploying an effective monitoring strategy that can deal with both legacy systems and SaaS resources. It comes down to what is going to work most effectively in your particular environment.
Many organisations are finding that the best approach is to integrate their SaaS monitoring efforts into their overall digital experience monitoring (DEM) infrastructure. In this way, it can provide the proactive, real-time information that allows actions to be taken quickly to overcome any issues that might arise.
The importance of SaaS platforms as a support for daily business activity is going to continue to increase. By taking the time now to get effective monitoring measures in place, your organisation will be best positioned to reap the benefits that SaaS can deliver.
Will Barrera, ANZ regional sales manager, ThousandEyes