Software as a service (SaaS) will have a role in the future of IT, but not the dominant future that was first thought, according to research firm Gartner.
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Organisations should carefully assess their software needs in light of the current promises delivered on by SaaS, the firm said.
Many of the bad practices that occurred in the on-premises world are now moving their way into SaaS, said David Cearley, vice-president and fellow at Gartner.
The biggest example is shelfware-as-a-service, where companies pay for a software subscription that is not being accessed by an end-user, he said.
This can happen in any sized organisation, especially those that have downsized their workforce or oversubscribed to get a volume discount, said Cearley.
SaaS may not have delivered on its early grand promises, he said.
Of the current SaaS deployments, Gartner estimates that 90% are not pay-per-use.
SaaS does not solve all the challenges of software delivery, but can provide advantages based on the specific circumstances of a deployment as it is quicker to implement and configure for less-complex problems, said Cearley.
"SaaS changes the role of IT from implementing its own operations to inspecting a supplier's operations," he said.
While it limits infrastructure overheads and management, and lowers short- to medium-term total cost of ownership, third-party application tools are limited and SaaS applications cannot be counted as assets on a balance sheet.
Four steps businesses must consider when evaluating SaaS
Determine value: SaaS is not a panacea, and companies need to evaluate and understand the trade-offs of, for example, lower short- to medium-term cost of ownership against limited third-party application tools.
Develop governance: Develop a SaaS policy and governance document, which should be a collaborative effort between the business and IT to create internal and external SaaS governance model.
Evaluate suppliers: Organisations need to evaluate SaaS suppliers for specific application needs. A supplier should be measured on business performance and technical considerations, such as operations management capabilities.
Develop an integration road map This step will be a continuous process of developing an integration road map on how SaaS applications will integrate with on-premises applications and other SaaS solutions deployed.