The Case for SaaS: IT Analytic Tools in the Cloud
As part of Solutions Review’s Premium Content Series—a collection of contributed columns written by industry experts in maturing software categories— Rakesh Jayaprakash of ManageEngine discusses the myriad benefits of running IT analytic tools in the cloud.
Given the current hybrid work environment, running your IT analytics through a SaaS platform makes more sense than ever. By using analytics software in the cloud, you gain flexibility, scalability, and agility; additionally, you reduce the amount of time spent on installation and configuration, and it’s easy to integrate your SaaS analytics tool with a host of other SaaS products. When employing SaaS products, start-up companies and SMBs gain access to high-end software for a relatively low cost. Moreover, through the use of SaaS, these companies are not burdened by high operating expenses, as all software upgrades and maintenance are automatically provided by the SaaS provider.
In a traditional, on-premises environment, one has to build a server, then install and configure the applications. However, with SaaS, applications are accessible via an API or the web. Most of the time, all you need is a web browser; then, you can access the application from any operating system. Also, seeing as SaaS products are almost always subscription-based, the software provider is responsible for data recovery, automatic backups, and levels of service guaranteed by service level agreements (SLAs). As you can see, SaaS platforms provide an effective avenue to get applications up and running in a short period of time. If you’re thinking about running IT analytics, it may very well make sense to do so in the cloud.
IT Analytic Tools and Their Cloud-Based Benefits
The Composition of IT Teams Makes SaaS Analytics Tools Ideal
The nature of IT teams makes running IT analytics in the cloud especially beneficial. Although IT teams are often looked upon as a single entity, the reality is that IT teams are comprised of several different pieces. There are IT services personnel who solve hardware and software issues; then, there’s the help desk team, the endpoint management/security team, and the network operations team. Together, all of these folks work in tandem to provide organizational security and business continuity.
Depending on the size of your organization, the amount of data generated by these IT teams can be overwhelming. It’s vital to bring the data from each of these respective IT teams together. By doing so, you can ascertain exactly how these different areas of IT impact and influence each other. Through the use of a SaaS analytics tool, you can identify important metrics, find correlations in disparate IT data, and help your IT personnel make effective decisions.
Most IT departments use at least a dozen different applications to manage their organizations’ operations around the clock. These applications help IT personnel assess operational health, analyze the efficiency of operations, identify potential breaches, calculate budgets, and monitor staff performance. Suppose your IT analytics tool is in the cloud. In that case, it can easily integrate with all your other SaaS tools, making it a breeze for your IT personnel to gain granular insights into the operations.
The Highly Scalable Nature of SaaS is Conducive to Analyzing Large Volumes of Data
As mentioned before, SaaS products are highly scalable. This can be a wonderful thing when it comes to analyzing IT data. If you have a large organization, hundreds of network devices are likely monitored; thousands of security events are logged, and millions of lines of code are created by IT management applications at any given time. Given the scale of this data, it makes sense to process and analyze millions of data points every few minutes. Thankfully, this can be easily done with an IT analytics SaaS platform.
Such a platform uses intelligent algorithms, batch processing, and auto-prioritization of data based on criticality. All security events are detected immediately and then reported to IT security personnel. Employees can configure event-based thresholds, which will create notifications whenever a threshold is breached. Additionally, as your business grows and you scale your IT operations, an effective SaaS analytics platform keeps important metrics from getting buried in heaps of disparate data.
AI in the Cloud Can Make It Particularly Easy to Gain Insights
The term artificial intelligence gets thrown around a lot these days. That said, if your SaaS analytics tool does have an AI-enabled component, decision-making becomes even easier for IT personnel.
Human interpretation of data is inherently subjective; however, with an AI-enabled tool, the IT data is auto-interpreted, and direct insights are provided. AI-led data correlations and event triaging speed up the IT personnel’s decision-making process. Also, such context-aware AI can often establish correlations between network and application alarm data, allowing IT workers to remediate events faster. Lastly, these tools are also able to interpret IT management data, providing clarity into which, if any, IT workers are dragging down SLA times.
Pushing Past the SaaS Detractors
It would be disingenuous to suggest that there were no drawbacks to SaaS solutions. SaaS detractors often argue that cloud-based tools offer users less control over their data, and these detractors highlight the fact that security breaches and service disruptions are out of the users’ hands. Put simply, this is where SLAs come into play. If a breach or disruption occurs, an organization should be protected by the SaaS SLA. Also, SaaS applications may sometimes have latency issues, given that SaaS apps depend on internet connectivity. These apps may run at slightly slower speeds than client/server apps, and if an internet connection goes down, users may momentarily lose access to software or data.
Despite these oft-cited drawbacks, the benefits of SaaS analytics tools are innumerable. Start-ups, SMBs, and enterprises gain access to high-end tools at a relatively low cost. In addition to the reduced installation and configuration costs, businesses only pay for what they need. With SaaS, not only are upfront costs lower, but the maintenance costs are lower as well. Perhaps most importantly, SaaS facilitates a great deal of flexibility and scalability. If your business has a lot of other SaaS products, it’s easier than ever to integrate them all in the cloud.