Category Archives: Cloud Computing

The Global Cloud: Blockchain Could Decentralize SaaS

The Global Cloud: Blockchain Could Decentralize SaaS

Blockchain SaaS

As the prevalence of SaaS continues to grow, so too does the cloud. You know this because you experience it hands-on everyday. By 2020, 92% of our work will be cloud-based. According to Cisco, 74% of that will involve SaaS in all its variations.

For the most part, the cloud works perfectly with SaaS. It’s a great meeting-point for both the service provider and the customer. The cloud’s potential in this respect seems limitless. If you can develop a software solution for any aspect of business, the cloud can host it. The customer, who could be anyone from an enterprise-level business all the way down to a solopreneur, benefits from the competitive atmosphere.

DDoS Attacks

On the flipside, the recent DDoS attack illustrated something disconcerting about centralized servers, the servers upon which the cloud relies. If and when hackers take control of internet-connected devices (the IoT), they can wreak havoc on the processing power of centralized infrastructure. The DDoS attack was unique and huge, and a taste of what may be coming. Hackers used millions of webcams and digital recorders to jam up Domain Name System server provider Dyn. The traffic jam rendered plenty of popular websites, as well as SaaS apps, temporarily inoperable.

IoT Authentication

paul-brody-blockchainAs the IoT continues to grow exponentially, the computational power we need for the cloud will also grow exponentially. The cost of running cloud servers, which identify and authenticate each IoT device, will also continue to rise. Paul Brody, VP of IBM Global Business Services, points out that some IoT devices don’t generate returns that justify their expense. These devices include smart lights, aircraft, and cars. He says, “Applying a centralized cloud-based business model to these devices will mean decades of expense without decades of associated revenue.”

The convergence of SaaS vendors will create a massive need for highly skilled experts in the field of big data science and management. This is not simply a matter of if, but when.

The requirement for Big data analysis via IoT devices utilizing the cloud equals a glut that will weigh on centralized servers. Security risks and practicality issues that will drive the cloud to the decentralized blockchain.

IBM has already harnessed Watson and blockchain together to create a private cloud. This is a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), a type of cloud-product Cisco predicts will do 8% of data workloads by 2020.

The emergence of IBM’s private blockchain cloud could be a model for the public cloud and for SaaS hosting in the future. SaaS is becoming such a huge part of business that non-interference from the IoT and from hackers will be paramount to everyone who stands to gain from software. Which is pretty much everyone in the established business world. Blockchain looks to be a cure-all, in some respects, for the security ills associated with the centralization of data.

In the public eye, the primary access-point to blockchain is Bitcoin. The following graphic, courtesy of Northeastern University, illustrates some of the key talking points related to Bitcoin:

Blockchain SaaS

With Bitcoin, human “miners” on the blockchain verify transactions. With the IoT and blockchain, smart devices are responsible for their own identification and authentication. Devices are the miners. The mesh of devices becomes the cloud.

But plenty of SaaS vendors are happy with the cloud as is. Converting it over to the blockchain would require a whole new system of trust. That is, vendors will have to trust that each device in the cloud will not disrupt their service. All institutions involved will have to trust in blockchain’s viability. Devices can be physically compromised if they’re out there circulating in the world.

Monetary transactions will be the biggest issue. For global payroll company Cloudpay, SaaS on the cloud ensures payroll compliance: “SaaS helps to consolidate global data from multiple country payrolls into one single system, providing real-time information on both global and local compliance.” About 93% of businesses use the cloud ‘in some form or another’. Converting it to the blockchain, and making payments to global stakeholders, presents regulatory complications for the SEC:

  • Implementation: financial institutions are uncertain about adopting blockchain because people in general are uncertain about it
  • Standardization: a host of standards-making bodies, SaaS startups, and corporations will have to agree on set standards
  • Regulator integration: regulators are unlikely to want to disrupt the regulations they’ve established

Ultimately, once everyone is on board, blockchain looks to be the basis for the new cloud. If security breaches of the centralized system continue to be the norm, we could see this happen sooner than later.

By Daniel Matthews

10 Online Savings and Wealth Management Services

10 Online Savings and Wealth Management Services

Wealth Management Services

There are a lot of cloud based options for those of you wanting to save for a holiday, invest some spare cash, or plan for retirement. This is a list (in no particular order) of some of the best services for online savings or wealth management.

WiseBanyan

Wealth Management Services

WiseBanyan was the world’s first free financial advisor with no minimum account balance, and is built on the principle that investing should be a right, not a privilege. Instead of charging their customers for their standard package, they earn money by offering additional paid services, like Tax Loss Harvesting. Although they have only a small share of the market at the moment (around $35 million in assets), they are a fantastic service for those looking for free or first time advice on savings or investments.

Mint

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Mint allows you to see your entire financial situation all on one screen; credit cards, savings, ISAs. investments, budgets, insurance, everything you can imagine. Mint updates and analyzes your information in real time, making judgements and suggestions on savings accounts and credit offers available. Their blog even offers financial advice on everything from how to handle student loan debt, to misconceptions about credit cards.

Albert

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Albert is another financial advice application it compiles your financial data into a single platform, including bank accounts, credit cards, property, loans and investments. Where it differs from Mint is that it’s more focused on giving financial advice and encouraging you to make financial changes, as well as helping you track your everyday spending and budget. And when it offers tips, it pushes you to actually put them into action. For example, if it suggests you start a savings account, it will transfer money across into it for you.

Moneybox

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Moneybox is a very simple little IOS (Android coming soon) app that helps you to save little by little. You add card details to the app and then every time you make a purchase Moneybox will ask you if you would like to round up to the nearest dollar or more and save the extra cash. Bank level encryption protects your savings and information and the money you save can be invested in several different ways, through cash, global shares, or property shares. You can withdraw your money anytime, and can spread your investments (no matter how small) across the three different types of investments.

Bank Simple

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Bank Simple, or Simple, is one of the world’s first completely digital banks. It does everything a normal bank does, digitally, with no branches, and more importantly, no banking fees. You can set savings goals, and it will analyze your spending, to give you a better understanding of how and where you spend your money, and how you could cut down on some spending. It even has a handy little “safe to spend” feature which helps to curb spending in case of emergency!

Betterment

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Betterment is an online investment service aimed at maximising investment returns, using a combination of smart automation to help invest excess cash and analyse your entire financial situation and an expert team of financial advisors and investors. They claim to increase profits by 4.30% when compared to DIY investment. Those with little money to invest don’t have to be put off, the service has no minimum balance or deposit, and can be used to plan retirement savings and to organise your taxes.

Wealthbar

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Wealthbar is a financial robo-advisor that can help you plan for long-term savings and investments, as well as helping to understand your spending and offer advice on how to save more efficiently. Wealthbar is competitive with a fee of only 0.35%-0.60% and insurance up to $1,000,00 of investment, so your money is definitely safe! The only downside is a minimum investment of $5000, so for smaller investments you may want to consider other services in this list.

Acorns

acorns-cropped

Acorns is a robo-investment app that rounds purchase to the nearest dollar and invests the change in exchange-traded funds and bonds. At $1 a month or free for students with a .edu email address, acorn doesn’t cost much, but it is unlikely to make you rich. However, for first time investors, or for those with little to invest, it can be a useful stepping stone to larger investments.

Motif

motif-cropped

Motif is aimed at investors who have an active interest in investing in individual stocks and securities, and those with experience in doing so. Motif use a very unique system that allows you to pick stocks and investments, based on your personal beliefs and interests. You can choose specific stocks, buying fractional and whole shares, or you can choose from the selection of over 180,00 “motifs” that have been assembled by users and Motif themselves. The “motifs” are a collection of stocks and exchange-traded funds that represent market trends or specific industries.

Personal Capital

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Personal Capital is another online wealth management service for those with larger investments to handle (the minimum start-up deposit is $25,000), with a specialized department for dealing with investments over $1 million. You can link all your accounts together on the Personal Capital Dashboard to get a full overview of your financial life and net worth and they give you a personal financial advisor to deal with your investments. This service is definitely skewed towards higher end investors, with the costs dropping from 0.89% to 0.49% as you invest over the $1 million threshold.

None of the services included in this list were sponsored or paid for. However, companies interested in being involved in future sponsorship initiatives can contact us to discuss our other programs via: contact@cloudtweaks.com

By Josh Hamilton

Financial Management Finds a Welcome Home in the Cloud

Financial Management Finds a Welcome Home in the Cloud

Cloud Based Financial Management

The most cautious person in any organization is likely to be the CFO. After all, they’re the person who gets paid to ensure the company’s finances are protected from unwarranted risk. However, even the most risk-averse of CFOs are beginning to warm to the possibility of moving their firms’ financial management systems to the cloud.

One thing you can say about the adoption of cloud services by businesses: It’s unconventional. After all, the first people in the organization to use the cloud in their work were usually renegades who did so without the official sanction of their company’s IT department. Out of this “shadow IT” grew the topsy-turvy, bottom-up evolution of cloud migration in companies of all sizes.

You might say that the cart’s before the horse, or the tail’s wagging the dog, but however you slice it, cloud services are proving their worth to businesses in many diverse ways. Jeffrey Kaplan writes in an October 31, 2016, article on Datamation that the typical cloud-adoption pattern is for the sales and marketing departments to lead the way, initially in an ad-hoc manner but ultimately with the blessing of the IT department and the CFO.

Kaplan cites a recent CFO Signals survey by Deloitte that found nearly 80 percent of companies in North America use some cloud services, yet fewer than half have implemented any cloud-based finance and accounting analytics. The slow adoption rate of cloud-based financial solutions is due as much to lingering concerns about security and integration as it is to the generally conservative nature of the CFO role, according to Kaplan.

cloud-provider

The 30,000-foot view of data analytics in the from the enterprise perspective extends the model from mobile users and data sources to enterprise data and user directories. Source: IBM

New financial rules cause CFOs to reconsider the cloud

A potential source of motivation for companies evaluating cloud financial services is the need to respond to new guidelines issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board, whose ASC 606 standard requires that firms identify performance obligations in all customer contracts and base revenue recognition on a contract basis rather than on a transaction basis. The new rules don’t take effect until late 2017, but it will take time for companies to make the necessary changes to their financial accounting procedures.

By slowly transitioning to cloud based financial management, CFOs hope to avoid the glitches that arose with the first round of cloud-migration projects. According to Mark Melin in a November 1, 2016, article on ValueWalk, a study by SunGuard found that 73 percent of companies spent more on their move to the cloud than they anticipated. In addition, 66 percent of the organizations surveyed eventually moved some of their early cloud applications back to their in-house infrastructure.

The switch from in-house financial management to its counterpart in the cloud is more difficult because the old and new have very different foundations. Traditional finance operations run on an internal grid designed from the ground up for risk calculations, portfolio pricing, liquidity analysis, and other high-performance workloads. The cloud, on the other hand, is optimized for scalability and agility, which introduces a high level of latency and scheduling that can spell trouble for financial calculations.

New approaches to intelligent analytics in the cloud

The problem of remote analytics may be solved by advances in telemetry: the collection, measurement, and monitoring of data from a remote source. In a November 7, 2016, article in Data Center Journal, Jonathan Donaldson describes an approach called Intelligent Resource Orchestration (IRO) that extends telemetry by enabling analytics in software-defined infrastructures. IRO relies on sophisticated pattern matching to automate much of the decision making, which reduces human interaction. For IRO to be successful, it must be able to discern which decisions can be automated, and which need to be made by humans.

The IRO model consists of four components that interact in continual loops:

  • Watch virtualizes and reviews data from compute, storage, and network resources using common APIs.
  • Decide determines the course of action in response to an event, such as a request or system failure, based on monitoring and analytics communicated via a dashboard interface.
  • Act responds in real time based on patterns learned from previous analyses that led to a positive outcome.
  • Learn is the application of machine learning and deep learning to identify areas requiring change and to recommend improvements.

Cloud Based Financial Management

In the IRO model, four modules continually interact to reduce the amount of human intervention required in cloud-based analytics. Source: Jonathan Donaldson, via Data Center Journal

According to Donaldson, IRO holds promise for addressing the performance needs of any “latency-sensitive” applications, including financial services and content delivery networks.

Automating financial drudge work via continuous accounting

Research firm Accenture estimates that by 2020, finance productivity will increase by a factor of 2 to 3 times, while financial-management costs will decline by 40 percent over the same period. The key to this productivity boost is automated decision making. A new approach to automated financial analytics based on a non-stop loop is continuous accounting, which Information Age’s Nick Ismael explains in an October 27, 2016, article.

As Ismael points out, only the agility and flexibility of cloud-based services make it possible to replace manual accounting methods, freeing financial analysts to focus on fraud detection, compliance, and other strategic matters rather than spreadsheet updates and weekly reports. These are the same reasons companies of all sizes are turning increasingly to services in order to automate uptime monitoring of IT systems of all types: databases, app servers, web servers, and message queues, all viewed in a single app.

By Brian Wheeler

The Paradigm Shift In Enterprise IT Operations Management

The Paradigm Shift In Enterprise IT Operations Management

IT Operations Management

Rapid change is the new constant with today’s Enterprises. There is a continuous shift in the technology landscape and the demands of the customers coupled with Enterprises wanting to stay competitive. This changing, fluid environment results in concurrent changes with IT infrastructure. Enterprises today are turning to IT Operations Management to bring order to this complex situation.

The Paradigm Shift in Enterprise IT

Technology is central to the ability of the Enterprise to respond to changes in the market and its customers and to execute its business plans. Today’s IT leaders are responsible for more than overseeing technology breakthroughs but are also integral to advising chief executives about the organization’s business strategy. Similarly, this has also meant that traditionally non-IT departments are also getting more involved in decisions that were earlier the purview of IT – for e.g. Choices regarding edge devices, cloud services and even security policies and plans. It’s clear that several factors are at work in making the IT infrastructure ever more complex and un-manageable. The Infrastructure has to ramp up and scale back as demand fluctuates. Enterprises are themselves becoming more complex and the IT infrastructure has to evolve to keep pace. Significant technology shifts also necessitate small as well as large-scale changes in the IT infrastructure of the enterprise on a regular basis.

IT Operations Management

The role of the IT department and the IT infrastructure of the Enterprise is to:

  • Help the Enterprise to execute to plan
  • Maximize the value delivered by the IT infrastructure
  • Proactively identify and ensure a smooth shift to the most appropriate, next technology paradigm
  • Eliminate or manage risks associated with the expanded importance of the IT infrastructure

In achieving these goals, the IT infrastructure has to face several complex challenges, some internal to the Enterprise and others within the ecosystem the Enterprise operates in.

Which Internal Challenges do Enterprises face?

Budgets: Budgets are under pressure. The challenge for the IT department is to deliver more with the same amount of investment – essentially utilize the available budgets more efficiently.

Multi-locational / Distributed workforce: Enterprises are located across multiple geographies and teams are more spread out. To add to this, trends like telecommuting and remote teams are adding complexity. A Forrester Report had predicted that by 2016, 43% of the US workforce, 63 Million people, would be telecommuting. Further complexity is introduced by the growing number of freelancers or temporary workers, estimated at 60 million people by 2020 in an Intuit study. The IT infrastructure has to cater to the connectivity needs of the distributed workforce and also support them remotely.

BYOD: A Gartner report, “Bring your own device: The facts and the future”, projected that by 2017, 50% of employers would require that employees get their own devices for work. Juniper Research estimates that by 2018 over 1 Billion devices would be used in BYOD mode. The emergence of tablets has further complicated the scenario by blurring the lines between traditional definitions of compute and mobile devices. A multiplicity of devices means added complexity in terms of integration needs, software compatibility, license issues and non-standard infrastructure elements.

Which External Challenges do Enterprises face?

Technology Shifts: There are several technology-driven trends that are impacting Enterprise IT – Cloud computing is no longer just a trend but has become a core part of the Enterprise IT strategy. The way Enterprises leverage the Cloud is evolving from the Public Cloud to the Private Cloud and to a more Hybrid version today. The need to leverage Big Data and Analytics is making greater demands on the data storage and network infrastructure of the Enterprise. A greater reliance on Apps and sensors on data gathering and reporting mean the IT infrastructure has to be more mobile friendly. These technologies develop rapidly and present a moving target for the IT department to assess and address with speed and efficiency.

Security: In June 2015 UK’s Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, reported in its “Information Security Breaches Survey” that 90% of large organizations and as many as 74% of small organizations had suffered a data breach in 2014. The IT Infrastructure has to evolve to ensure the security and integrity of the data, both at rest and while in motion over the network.

Compliance: Compliance has become more onerous for Enterprises. The regulatory landscape is complex and dynamic and the degree of difficulty is even higher for Enterprises located across geographies. Enterprises need to hold themselves to very high standards of governance and these further increases the compliance burden as internal reporting and policy mechanisms get tightened. The need to give the Board transparent, real-time visibility into the operations of the whole Enterprise imposes a greater burden on all the IT systems. Data collection, filtering, analysis, reporting and dashboard creation becomes a core need and hence a significant challenge for the IT infrastructure.

Where does the answer lie?

IT departments in the Enterprise are faced with a double challenge – a more central and strategic role with a greater hand in the success as well as the failure of the Enterprise combined with a greater complexity in the IT operations. In this situation, they are turning to IT Operations Management to bring some order to this chaos. ITOM’s focus is on managing the overall IT infrastructure that forms the backbone for service delivery. In the context of the typical Enterprise today, this may include the networking infrastructure, the wide area and edge device connectivity, the data storage infrastructure, the applications and even the IT services delivered to the Enterprise. Enterprises are turning to ITOM software solutions to leverage their IT investments more efficiently and to address ongoing changes more easily. ITOM software can help to automate the processes associated with infrastructure provisioning, capacity utilization, performance management and ongoing maintenance of all the elements of the IT infrastructure.

How does ITOM Help Enterprise IT?

Enterprises are looking to implement ITOM to gain greater visibility and control over the various elements of their IT infrastructure. The objective is simplification for easier and more responsive management that enhances the Enterprise’s ability to deliver according to the plan. ITOM helps Enterprises to utilize their IT infrastructure more efficiently, to be more agile in response to external and internal needs and to improve the overall service and support delivery.

Here is how Enterprises leverage ITOM solutions:

Automate More: Automation is a key benefit delivered by ITOM. The various elements of the overall IT infrastructure that can be automated include the IT Service Management by the optimization of the service desk, the management of the data center including virtualized elements and the management of the network backbone. Automating these processes makes response faster, more effective and more efficient.

Monitor Better: ITOM allows the Enterprise to gather data from several data sources representing all the key elements of the IT infrastructure. This data can be analyzed and can then provide insights to the IT Operations on factors like loads, performance and user activities. This makes it easier to identify issues earlier, diagnose them and to then address them faster. ITOM also provides transparent visibility into the actual behavior of users and the issues that they face.

Manage Effectively: ITOM enables more efficient and effective management of the IT infrastructure by allowing a common management platform for the various different applications across the Enterprise. ITOM communicates with these applications at the API level and facilitates a degree of communication that allows faster decision making. ITOM also supports easier provisioning of resources like application licenses and cloud services based on analysis of the workloads.

Proactively Anticipate: The business and technology landscape changes very rapidly and the Enterprise has to be extremely agile to respond to such changes. Enterprises are leveraging ITOM to proactively anticipate the changes that may be needed to the IT infrastructure to address a business situation that is liable to change and to then use that insight to be ready when the anticipated change does occur.

The benefits to the Enterprises from ITOM are more transparent visibility, efficient utilization of the IT investment, more responsive provisioning of IT resources, easier issue isolation and better maintenance.

In Synopsis

Rapid technology change and an extremely demanding customer landscape is putting the IT infrastructure of Enterprises under extreme pressure. As IT becomes more central to the achievement of the business plans for the enterprise it becomes critically important for them to keep track of every infrastructure element at all times. In such an environment, to avoid potentially catastrophic disruptions in services and to ensure that the IT infrastructure is managed efficiently and effectively enterprises are finding an answer in IT Operations Management.

By Sheetal Kale

Infographic: Debugging Applications, the Silent Resource Drain

Infographic: Debugging Applications, the Silent Resource Drain

Debugging Applications

The way most companies today are boosting competitiveness and relevance is by focusing on being as nimble as possible. Amazon pushes new code countless times a day, so do Google, Facebook, Uber and many others. Forward looking software developer leaders understand that to deliver innovation to customers they must effectively manage entire SaaS application lifecycles across a diverse range of infrastructures, a process that begins with identifying and eliminating bugs as early as possible so that teams can focus on adding end-user value.

Testing is a crucial part of an application’s lifecycle, but it’s inherently challenging to ensure that tests done in development will mirror what happens in production. A recent survey from ClusterHQ uncovered that 60% of developer team members spend up to half their day debugging errors, instead of developing new features—proving that debugging is a huge resource drain for DevOps team.

Why are bugs in production so commonplace?

A deeper look are the challenges around application testing showed that recreating production environments was cited as the leading cause of bugs appearing in production. This challenge was followed closely by interdependence on external systems that makes integration testing cumbersome, which leads into the third most cited challenge: testing against unrealistic data. At present, data is difficult to move between all the places that it is needed, including in test infrastructure. As a result, unrealistic, mock data sets are often used to test applications. However, these unrealistic data sets cannot prepare applications for all real world variables, and thus cause serious, expensive, and time consuming issues down the line.

The infographic below outlines additional key findings.

Debugging Applications

By Glenn Blake

Cisco Discusses the Resilience of Cloud Strategy

Cisco Discusses the Resilience of Cloud Strategy

Cloud Strategy

With businesses and consumers relying on the public cloud more than ever, it’s important that market transparency and resilience is improved. Enrico Fuiano, Senior Solutions Marketing Manager, Cisco Cloud Marketing, takes a look at the resilience of cloud strategy noting that IT organizations have adopted cloud primarily in two distinct ways: some standardize cloud infrastructure to improve data center efficiencies, thus reducing total number of suppliers across their entire IT value chain; others instead implement a ‘best of breed’ tactic, applying complex and heterogeneous IT environments which allow for the optimization of IT infrastructures related to specific applications required. The question Fuiano asks is, as cloud service adoption increases, will the range of cloud providers being utilized by IT decision makers increase or decrease? The study sponsored by Cisco and completed by IDC highlights some significant results.

Multiple Cloud Providers

Sebastian Stadil CEOSuggests Scalr CEO Sebastian Stadil, “In most enterprises, multi-cloud infrastructure emerges as a result of organic adoption. One business unit, department or team uses AWS and another uses Azure and there you go: a multi-cloud organization...” But the IDC findings further note that mature organizations demand a diverse choice from multiple cloud providers based on policies, location, and governance principles. Moreover, those organizations best able to obtain the most value from cloud providers are increasing their enthusiasm for a diverse range of cloud providers.

Speaking exclusively with CloudTweaks, Fuiano states, “We continue to witness how sophisticated enterprise class environments rely on the use of multiple cloud providers to achieve their business objectives. The study that IDC conducted confirms that organizations prefer to put in place inherently resilient cloud strategies. This allows them to better mitigate risks and optimize their choice of cloud providers based on their specific IT service requirements...”

Facing the Challenges

Unfortunately, multi-cloud environments often increase complexity and managing a convoluted portfolio of cloud-based applications can be a challenge. Suggests Fuiano, Cisco CloudCenter application-centric technology assists multi-cloud users by allowing them to:

  • Build cloud-independent application profiles quickly and easily that define requirements for deployment and management of an entire application stack.
  • Deploy the application profile as well as related components and data to any cloud environment or data center with just one click.
  • Apply an extensive range of application lifecycle actions to set policies for in-place scaling, assist with cross-environment bursting or high availability and disaster recovery, and stop deployment.

Because cloud administration and governance are so important, it’s necessary for administrators to be able to centrally manage cloud accounts, regulate costs, and provide data regarding use. Says Fuiano, “IT organizations understand that their role has changed. They have to act as ‘brokers of IT services’ to deliver IT at a faster pace. The combination of Cisco CloudCenter with our Cloud Professional Services portfolio can enable our customers to make that transition. The key is to deliver application-centric services while maintaining central governance, security, and control…

For businesses utilizing the cloud efficiently, benefiting from a choice of contractual terms and transparent pricing as well as the assortment of tools and applications available, multi-cloud infrastructures are likely to dominate. However, the recent IDC global cloud study indicates that while cloud adoption has indeed achieved mainstream levels this year, with 68% of surveyed organizations already using either private or public cloud for more than a couple of small applications, less than 3% of organizations have implemented optimized cloud strategies. We’ve perhaps still a way to go before proficient multi-cloud strategies are the main order of the day, but top service providers are already gearing up to ensures organizations have the support they need when it’s required.

By Jennifer Klostermann

3 Reasons SaaS Providers Must Have An App Store

3 Reasons SaaS Providers Must Have An App Store

SaaS Providers and APIs

In the software-as-a-service (SaaS) industry, building an app store has moved from “nice to have” to a requirement. Most SaaS providers who go this route use application programming interfaces (API) to integrate with third-party apps. It has become the dominant way to exert some enterprise control over the apps employees get from sources outside the enterprise.

A Forrester Research report found that enterprise-specific apps were among the top five app categories by usage, but a report by Appboy found less than 25 percent of people return to an app the day after they initially install it. SaaS providers need to avoid becoming this statistic – having their apps downloaded and then not used beyond the first day. That’s why they keep beating the API drum.

However, simply stitching one app to another or to an enterprise doesn’t instantly grant increased usage. Employees aren’t motivated to use an integration just because it exists. Moreover, apps aren’t as standardized as one might hope. A Netskope survey has revealed that of the roughly 500 apps used in enterprises, 88 percent of them don’t meet enterprise readiness. In addition, 81 percent of data downloaded occurred in apps with no encryption of data at rest.

While it’s a given that cloud apps are being used in nearly every enterprise today, safe cloud enablement is by no means a ‘one-size fits all’ solution,” said Sanjay Beri, founder and chief executive officer at Netskope.

So, What’s a SaaS to Do?

To better serve enterprise customers, SaaS providers need to go beyond API integration into an ecosystem for their application. Essentially, they need their own app store.

An enterprise app store is essentially an online place where end users can access, download and install corporate-approved apps. These apps can include a mix of internally-built apps from the SaaS provider, its customers, or third-party apps from popular external app stores.

A SaaS Provider Case

SaaS Providers

For example, an enterprise file synch and share (EFSS) SaaS provider wants to helps its IT customers enforce content security and compliance. But, such a SaaS provider also needs to ensure better collaboration and productivity are selling points. In this way, all users win. IT gets the content security and governance it demands across the enterprise. Meanwhile, users see improved collaboration and productivity without security mechanisms getting in the way.

But, today third-party apps have gone from trickling into the enterprise to flooding it. Content is running amok and the EFSS solution can’t plug the gaps. SaaS providers have had to figure out a way to more closely integrate popular apps with core EFSS solutions. Having corporate-sanctioned apps that deeply integrate into the EFSS SaaS vendor’s product, well beyond what APIs can do, resolves this. From here, there are a few benefits.

Increase Visibility and Usage of Integrated Products

IT management might be able to peer into which content moved from its enterprise storage through an app and to where. This kind of insight is not just crucial for overarching content security and governance, it’s now vital business insight too. Organizations can glean valuable information about if content is being consumed as desired.

Every organization wants to be the center of attention with their employees, customers, partners and vendors. Apps can become a valuable medium for this. People interact with apps on average several hours a day. Building your own app store is a great way to sustain visibility with core audiences. Your app store can solicit app feedback and ratings just like big third-party apps stores do. This helps foster participation in your app community. It can help you stand out from the competition and increase loyalty, and more.

Provide a Unified Experience for Users that IT Can Control 

While securing and controlling content is an IT department’s primary concern, an enterprise user’s primary concern is just getting the job done with a good app. Often, this means a third-party app.

So, the SaaS provider must unify a user’s content experience, regardless of the device or app they prefer to use for the task at hand. This means creating corporate-sanctioned apps users favor. Obviously, this requires partnerships with popular enterprise app vendors.

Attract Partners and Build on Your Platform  

In the end, an app store is as good as the apps it offers. So, ensuring participation from other app providers will be crucial. The ecosystem should provide for high quality partner apps whose functionality is woven into the fabric of the SaaS platform at a molecular level.

Our hypothetical EFSS SaaS provider might need to support apps for document creation, sharing and editing. It might also be good to have apps for capturing signatures or other approval mechanisms, and a host of other related apps. In this case, direct integration with third party apps ultimately allows seamless and secure content access and visibility via the EFSS platform.

It’s Just How Business is Done

While APIs have blossomed in providing some form of app control for the enterprise, for SaaS vendors it’s no longer enough. They need to anchor an ecosystem for their application with an app store that provides best-in-class support for desktop, online and mobile app platforms. With the right app ecosystem, a SaaS provider can more closely unify their solution with the apps their IT customers need to support.

A successfully executed SaaS app store hinges on a SaaS provider’s ability to attract app partners to build on its platform. But with these challenges met, the SaaS provider and app providers can deliver value-added integration to IT customers while helping their IT customers create a unified and smooth experience for the end users who just want to work.

By Ronen Vengosh, Vice President of Business Development at Egnyte

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The Future Of Work: What Cloud Technology Has Allowed Us To Do Better

The Future Of Work: What Cloud Technology Has Allowed Us To Do Better

What Cloud Technology Has Allowed Us to Do Better The cloud has made our working lives easier, with everything from virtually unlimited email storage to access-from-anywhere enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. It’s no wonder the 2013 cloud computing research IDG survey revealed at least 84 percent of the companies surveyed run at least one cloud-based application.…

Cloud Computing – The Good and the Bad

Cloud Computing – The Good and the Bad

The Cloud Movement Like it or not, cloud computing permeates many aspects of our lives, and it’s going to be a big part of our future in both business and personal spheres. The current and future possibilities of global access to files and data, remote working opportunities, improved storage structures, and greater solution distribution have…

Lavabit, Edward Snowden and the Legal Battle For Privacy

Lavabit, Edward Snowden and the Legal Battle For Privacy

The Legal Battle For Privacy In early June 2013, Edward Snowden made headlines around the world when he leaked information about the National Security Agency (NSA) collecting the phone records of tens of millions of Americans. It was a dramatic story. Snowden flew to Hong Kong and then Russia to avoid deportation to the US,…

Digital Marketing Hubs And The Cloud

Digital Marketing Hubs And The Cloud

Digital Market Hubs Gartner’s recently released research, Magic Quadrant for Digital Marketing Hubs, recognizes the big four marketing cloud vendors as leaders, but also points to many challengers. Adobe, Marketo, Oracle, and Salesforce inhabit the leader’s block of the Magic Quadrant, reflecting both their growing capabilities as well as marketing technology platform scopes. Gartner believes…

Cloud Computing Price War Rages On

Cloud Computing Price War Rages On

Cloud Computing Price War There’s little question that the business world is a competitive place, but probably no area in business truly defines cutthroat quite like cloud computing. At the moment, we are witnessing a heated price war pitting some of the top cloud providers against each other, all in a big way to attract…

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New Report Finds 1 Out Of 3 Sites Are Vulnerable To Malware

New Report Finds 1 Out Of 3 Sites Are Vulnerable To Malware

1 Out Of 3 Sites Are Vulnerable To Malware A new report published this morning by Menlo Security has alarmingly suggested that at least a third of the top 1,000,000 websites in the world are at risk of being infected by malware. While it’s worth prefacing the findings with the fact Menlo used Alexa to…

Infographic: The Evolving Internet of Things

Infographic: The Evolving Internet of Things

Evolving Internet of Things  The Internet of Things, or IoT, a term devised in 1999 by British entrepreneur Kevin Ashton, represents the connection of physical devices, systems and services via the internet, and Gartner and Lucas Blake’s new infographic (below) explores the evolution of the IoT industry, investigating its potential impact across just about every…

Beacons Flopped, But They’re About to Flourish in the Future

Beacons Flopped, But They’re About to Flourish in the Future

Cloud Beacons Flying High When Apple debuted cloud beacons in 2013, analysts predicted 250 million devices capable of serving as iBeacons would be found in the wild within weeks. A few months later, estimates put the figure at just 64,000, with 15 percent confined to Apple stores. Beacons didn’t proliferate as expected, but a few…

Moving Your Email To The Cloud? Beware Of Unintentional Data Spoliation!

Moving Your Email To The Cloud? Beware Of Unintentional Data Spoliation!

Cloud Email Migration In today’s litigious society, preserving your company’s data is a must if you (and your legal team) want to avoid hefty fines for data spoliation. But what about when you move to the cloud? Of course, you’ve probably thought of this already. You’ll have a migration strategy in place and you’ll carefully…

5% Of Companies Have Embraced The Digital Innovation Fostered By Cloud Computing

5% Of Companies Have Embraced The Digital Innovation Fostered By Cloud Computing

Embracing The Cloud We love the stories of big complacent industry leaders having their positions sledge hammered by nimble cloud-based competitors. Saleforce.com chews up Oracle’s CRM business. Airbnb has a bigger market cap than Marriott. Amazon crushes Walmart (and pretty much every other retailer). We say: “How could they have not seen this coming?” But, more…

Cloud Services Providers – Learning To Keep The Lights On

Cloud Services Providers – Learning To Keep The Lights On

The True Meaning of Availability What is real availability? In our line of work, cloud service providers approach availability from the inside out. And in many cases, some never make it past their own front door given how challenging it is to keep the lights on at home let alone factors that are out of…

What the Dyn DDoS Attacks Taught Us About Cloud-Only EFSS

What the Dyn DDoS Attacks Taught Us About Cloud-Only EFSS

DDoS Attacks October 21st, 2016 went into the annals of Internet history for the large scale Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks that made popular Internet properties like Twitter, SoundCloud, Spotify and Box inaccessible to many users in the US. The DDoS attack happened in three waves targeting DNS service provider Dyn, resulting in a total of about…

The Cloud Is Not Enough! Why Businesses Need Hybrid Solutions

The Cloud Is Not Enough! Why Businesses Need Hybrid Solutions

Why Businesses Need Hybrid Solutions Running a cloud server is no longer the novel trend it once was. Now, the cloud is a necessary data tier that allows employees to access vital company data and maintain productivity from anywhere in the world. But it isn’t a perfect system — security and performance issues can quickly…

Disaster Recovery – A Thing Of The Past!

Disaster Recovery – A Thing Of The Past!

Disaster Recovery  Ok, ok – I understand most of you are saying disaster recovery (DR) is still a critical aspect of running any type of operations. After all – we need to secure our future operations in case of disaster. Sure – that is still the case but things are changing – fast. There are…

Virtual Immersion And The Extension/Expansion Of Virtual Reality

Virtual Immersion And The Extension/Expansion Of Virtual Reality

Virtual Immersion And Virtual Reality This is a term I created (Virtual Immersion). Ah…the sweet smell of Virtual Immersion Success! Virtual Immersion© (VI) an extension/expansion of Virtual Reality to include the senses beyond visual and auditory. Years ago there was a television commercial for a bathing product called Calgon. The tagline of the commercial was Calgon…

Do Not Rely On Passwords To Protect Your Online Information

Do Not Rely On Passwords To Protect Your Online Information

Password Challenges  Simple passwords are no longer safe to use online. John Barco, vice president of Global Product Marketing at ForgeRock, explains why it’s time the industry embraced more advanced identity-centric solutions that improve the customer experience while also providing stronger security. Since the beginning of logins, consumers have used a simple username and password to…