SaaSOps 101: Using SaasOps for Remote Work in the Cloud

Recent events have caused many companies to go through their digital transformations at warp-speed, requiring IT to turn on a dime and adopt more SaaS applications to support either long term or permanent work from home plans. 

Even cloud-native IT organizations have found themselves going through shifts in strategy to support huge increases in the adoption of existing SaaS applications. Over the past month, BetterCloud has spoken with both IT professionals in the field and industry leaders to discuss what the path forward for IT looks like. Here’s what we found. 

Demand for a SaaSOps Skill Set

In the not too distant past, when monolithic applications were the norm, individuals or teams in IT filled very specific, siloed roles (Active Directory Administrator, for example). Now, with the proliferation of SaaS (whether by choice or by necessity) and a best of breed environment, IT professionals are finding themselves needing to fill a more holistic role responsible for dozens, if not hundreds, of applications making the highly specialized IT role of the past unrealistic for a modern digital workplace.

How is this achievable? SaaSOps. 

SaaS Operations, as covered in our earlier blog SaaSOps 101, is the practice of discovering, managing and securing SaaS applications through centralized and automated operations, resulting in reduced friction, improved collaboration and a better employee experience. It is core to effectively running a best-of-breed application stack. Savvy IT professionals are pushing their organizations to evolve. 

Companies like Spotify, Disney, and Twitch are posting jobs and seeking talent with skill sets directly related to SaaSOps and the ability to manage SaaS applications. But what does the practice of SaaSOps actually look like? What skills and disciplines are needed? Here is a SaaSOps framework, developed with the input of hundreds of IT professionals at the forefront of the field.

SaaSOps framework

The three pillars of Discovery, Management, and Security dictate the core functions IT should be cognizant of when evaluating their SaaS environment and the tools and skills needed to check each box. These pillars are wrapped by the Transformation layer, which relates to the strategy and support that must be included for each pillar to be successful. It’s been made clear over the past several months that organizations and IT teams that are able to administer and secure SaaS applications the best are in a position to be successful.

Do More with Less While Increasing Value

Now more than ever, spending is under a microscope and organizations are having to do more with less. For IT specifically, leaner teams mean holistic roles are more common (and part of a more desirable skill set), and the ability to prove the value of your function to the business as more than a cost center is critical. Doing that can be easier said than done, however.

It’s been made clear over the past several months that organizations and IT teams that are able to administer and secure SaaS applications the best are in a position to be successful. via @BetterCloud @OnixNetworking 

Using the SaaSOps framework above is a great place to start when looking to map responsibilities to the business value and demonstrate cost savings IT brings to the table. While some, like spend reporting or spend optimization, are more obvious, others, like visibility and auditability are also key. For example, some regulatory compliance requirements may necessitate gaining visibility into data or having a predetermined incident response plan. By having all the pieces in place and achieving new compliance standards, you can enable your organization to go after and win new business in industries or verticals previously unattainable. Two other examples include developing a complete user lifecycle process to reclaim licenses from departed employees and avoid incurring costs, and establishing a least privilege access model to avoid assigning the costly admin licenses charged by some SaaS providers. 

Collaborating Securely  

Securing remote work introduces its own set of challenges as employees use their own personal devices, accounts and/or networks, and collaboration via SaaS applications between employees and partners and customers increases. This can be further compounded by the fact that in the modern, more comprehensive IT role of today, the lines between IT and Security are blurred. 

While the specific security implications will depend on your company and what the mix of remote versus in-office work will look like long term, the challenges from a technology capability perspective include more integrations across applications, more cross-functional collaboration, easier external collaboration, the ability to create no-code workflows, and greater visibility around reporting to provide a more seamless transfer of knowledge and data across applications. It is imperative technology decision-makers strike the right balance between supporting business initiatives while ensuring the flow of information remains secure. 

For SaaS-powered workplaces, non-nefarious employees are often the gateway to data loss in the flow of information. Sharing a document with a personal account and inadvertently making it publicly accessible, or setting up corporate email to forward to a personal Gmail account are common examples of negligent but well-meaning end-users. Alerts and remediation paths against insider threats such as these, and file security policies that allow for the collaboration capabilities employees need to do their jobs remotely while still giving IT and Security the confidence data loss is not occurring is a critical balance to get right. 

What’s Next?

While trying to predict what comes next (especially in a year as unpredictable as 2020!) would be a shot in the dark, we are confident in one thing: that this is the Golden Age of IT. The rise of SaaS and SaaSOps has catapulted IT to the forefront of business decisions and innovation, and given technology leaders a seat at the table that has, for many companies, been a long time coming. 

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Caitlin McDevitt, Channel Manager, BetterCloud

Caitlin McDevitt, Channel Manager, BetterCloud

Caitlin has been with BetterCloud for more than four years and is responsible for partnerships and programs with reseller and services partners such as Onix. Prior to this role, she worked closely with the IT teams at BetterCloud’s strategic and enterprise clients to help with their adoption of the BetterCloud platform and best practices around SaaS management and security.

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