SaaS behaving badly? Rethink the network
Digitization and hybrid network transformations are spurring enterprises on to make bold changes to their IT infrastructure to make themselves as agile as possible in an increasingly aggressive global marketplace.
Cloud enables IT departments to scale workloads and extend applications to new locations and an increasingly mobile workforce. At the same time they can leverage virtual desktops to increase productivity, while centrally managing enterprise applications.
Nearly every enterprise now has part of its business running off a cloud-based service – be it switching from an on-premise CRM solution to a SaaS (Software as a Service) like salesforce.com; in-house email to a hosted option such as Office 365; or moving from a traditional telephone system to a hosted phone service.
At the same time, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is fast growing, jumping nearly 33% in 2015 to an estimated $16.5 billion, according to Gartner. Cloud IaaS is now dominant for use cases that can be hosted on virtualized x86-based servers. These include use developing and testing environments, Internet-facing websites and Web-based applications, even reaching into DC business critical applications.
IDC forecasts that by 2016 there will be an 11% shift of IT budget away from in-house IT delivery towards cloud as a new delivery model. By 2017, 35% of new applications will use cloud-enabled continuous delivery and DevOps life cycles for faster rollout of new features and business innovation.
The market for SaaS and IaaS may be ascending, but public cloud brings with it potential pitfalls, including connectivity issues, latency and other possible service disruptions
The question of security
Outsourcing sensitive data to the cloud is on the increase as enterprises look to control costs and gain efficiency. Moving to the cloud increases enterprises security responsibilities and can open up new risks, yet many are ignoring the red flag. A recent Ponemon Institute study found that IT security is rarely involved in ensuring the security of SaaS and IaaS. Shockingly, most companies are not evaluating SaaS applications and IaaS resources for security prior to deployment.
In order to leverage the full advantages of the public cloud, network infrastructures are evolving, often leading to distributing internet access close to or at the edge of the network. It is much easier to ensure security when an IT department is managing three internet gateways, for example, as opposed to 100s of local internet gateways. Enterprises struggle to manage security across this wide dispersion of internet gateways, opting instead for dedicated connections and proprietary cloud architectures.
“Data loss, data breaches, unsecure application programming interfaces (APIs) and shared technology in a multitenant environment are just a few of the concerns expressed by respondents tackling the option of using public cloud," said Laurie Wurster, research director at Gartner.
Getting security right means that an enterprise has the same confidence in security in the cloud as it does its on-premise IT infrastructure.
Confusion over service
If you buy a new car you expect it to come with a service warranty. A Service Level Agreement (SLA) is basically your warranty for the cloud. Many public cloud providers offer minimal or no guarantees on access performance or uptime. If you’re using the internet as access, there is no single entity to talk to directly if there is a problem with your SaaS deployment and latency, especially during peak time usage.
Consider that SaaS and IaaS services were hosted in tightly controlled datacenters where network access is delivered with redundancy, resiliency and guarantees on up time. When applications are moved out to public cloud there are no such guarantees. Using internet as an access method means you lose not only the remedies associated with SLAs, but also the ability to troubleshoot network problems when users experience issues. The internet is a highly variable “network” with some dramatic swings in latency, throughput and packet loss – these can have significant impact to applications.
Cost competitive & Flexibility
Cost savings are highlighted in the decision to move to the public cloud. When it comes to SaaS and IaaS, enterprises often have tunnel vision here. But workloads to be moved between private and public clouds and scaled up and down as requirements dictate and costs change, hybrid cloud gives enterprises greater flexibility and increased data deployment options.
On the surface, the internet appears to be extremely cost effective as network transport, but there can be significant costs associated to accommodating the enterprise security policy when deploying local internet gateways. There are certainly many ways to secure the edge, but it’s important to look carefully at how users will access platforms when moving to public SaaS/IaaS solutions.
Power of Hybrid
Cloud is not just about cost savings, it is also about business advantage and speeding up innovation. CIOs should look to harness the power of hybrid cloud so that they can take control of predictability, performance and security to ensure they get the ‘best in class’ out of SaaS and IaaS solutions. Understanding the impact to the infrastructure and network design is important to ensure the enterprise gets the benefit of Hybrid Cloud without increasing risk.
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