Have you ever purchased a product purported to be the end-all solution to your problem only to find that the product lacked important features or basic support? This happens frequently in the enterprise with cloud-based services and Software as a Service. Sure, everyone can access the product “any time, anywhere” but what about support, management, visibility, best practices consulting, customization, or even basic features?

Adopting SaaS in the enterprise requires so much more than simply signing up for a monthly plan. For example, if your entire enterprise moves to a cloud-based application, your bandwidth needs will likely increase dramatically. Performance will become an issue for some users, especially those located far from the physical data center.

The problem begins with the current network setup. Your existing network may require branch offices around the world to first connect to your main office before connecting to cloud-based services. This can mean that a branch office in Hong Kong must first connect to your server in New York before connecting to a cloud-based server in Hong Kong. These roundtrips are far from efficient from a network transport point of view.

Other issues involve network latency, packet loss, routing stability, available bandwidth, capacity, wireless access, and more. For Web applications, other issues are involved including response times, page load times, and transaction time.

Ignoring these issues and hoping the SaaS solution will work “out of the box” is a recipe for failure for enterprise networks. That’s why you need to look beyond the basic features of any SaaS solution and find out how much support, management, visibility, consulting, and customization are available for enterprise customers.

In addition, you may need to invest in your existing WAN to ensure it can handle the demands the new solution will place upon it. Application performance across the WAN is of paramount importance. As you implement SaaS across the WAN, two areas to pay attention to include the following:

  • Provisioning — You’ll need to address issues concerning routing, DNS, and capacity. Does the application require a great deal of back and forth between the client and the server? If so, how can you minimize round trip delays? Are your branch offices able to connect to local points of presence or are they being routed first to your main office? Does the WAN have the capacity required?
  • Monitoring – Once adopted, you’ll need to continuously monitor network and infrastructure performance with an emphasis on finding and resolving bottlenecks and other issues promptly.

SaaS providers are starting to recognize the impact their services have on the WAN, and many are taking measures to optimize their services for superior delivery across the WAN. Choosing a SaaS product is more complicated than it seems, making it important to look beyond the bells and whistles and investigate what needs to happen to ensure the solution is optimized for enterprise WANs.

Works Cited:

  1. Aryaka, “SaaS Sidekicks and how they enhance product value”
  1. Marketo – Thousand Eyes, “Best Practices for SaaS Adoption in the Enterprise”