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5 Biggest SaaS Limitations and How to Overcome Them

5 Biggest SaaS Limitations and How to Overcome Them

Software-as-a-Service, or SaaS, is one of the largest segments of the $300 billion cloud computing market. Of the three major cloud segments (SaaS, IaaS and PaaS), SaaS has enjoyed the fastest adoption simply because it is the most customer-facing segment; i.e., many more people are likely to have used cloud-based apps such as Google Apps, Box and Office 365 than they have developed apps using PaaS or created VMs using IaaS. Indeed, Gartner has said that SaaS is well on its way toward Plateau of Productivity, a term that describes the final stage of mainstream adoption.

This trend is expected to continue, with the research outfit predicting more than half of new application purchases by large organizations over the next few years will be composed of SaaS. With the rapid maturity of SaaS, vendors are now moving from horizontal services to vertical solutions in fields such as manufacturing and healthcare.

Yet, significant challenges continue to limit even faster SaaS growth. If you are performing tasks such as cloud file server migrations, here are the top 5 challenges you are likely to face and how to overcome them:

1. Interoperability

Limited interoperability is a significant challenge that continues to hamper SaaS adoption by organizations. Most organizations prefer real-time interoperability between their private clouds and SaaS applications. Many vendors push proprietary APIs as an open standard (e.g. Red Hat with Deltacloud or formerly VMware with vCloud API). 

The IEEE has, however, recently developed two standards to address interoperability issues: Cloud Data Management Interface (CDMI) and Open Virtualization Format(OVF). CDMI defines the interface to be used for cloud access, while OVF relates to packaging of virtual machines, or VMs.

Regardless, the best route is for organizations to take care of their own integrations rather than wait for these standards to be ratified. Synchronous communication between different clouds is not a good idea. It is in fact advisable to go for loose coupling while taking location and conductivity variations into consideration.

2. Lack of Integration Support

How well SaaS applications integrate with one another is just as critical as cloud interoperability. Integrating on-premise systems with cloud applications can present a number of issues because designing a hybrid setup is more difficult than designing a private one.

Integrated Platform as a Service, or iPaaS, is a platform designed to make application integration easier because it connects multiple cloud-based and in-house applications, including an enterprise's own in-cloud applications. The platform consists of several features and business rules that reduce the complexity of application integration.

3. Data Exchange Challenges

Data exchange between different systems can be an onerous task. Optimizing the data exchange process requires that you properly understand the existing problems as well as define the data to be exchanged.

There are three main ways you can address data integration challenges:

  • Design and test your own integration solution. You can do this by accounting for semantic differences between the two data layers and then mapping the source schema to the target schema.
  • Adopting Integration-as-a-Service, or IaaS. IaaS is a cost-effective delivery model that places system delivery in the cloud.
  • Adopting an on-demand subscription based data integration solution.

4. Less Customization

On-premise applications tend to be more customizable than cloud solutions because they come with numerous SDKs. Nevertheless, many vendors now offer a high degree of customization capability through a common tool set of database operating system, middleware and development languages.

5. Vendor Lock-in

Vendor lock-in limits the portability of applications whenever you need to move to a different vendor without incurring substantial costs. This is a particularly significant problem in SaaS because lack of adoption of standard APIs makes it difficult to switch from one application to another.

To mitigate lock-in, make sure your organization's data is sharable between different providers. Cloud portability should be a key consideration when selecting cloud providers.


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