Tug of war dogs Duncan Rawlinson Flickr CC 2.0People presume that, in the transition to cloud systems, there will be tug of war between SaaS and IT, as well as between SaaS and traditional software deployment methods. While there’s a bit of truth to the rumored struggle for traditional software and SaaS to find a balance, it’s not so severe as to be particularly dramatic, with a few exceptions. However, when it comes to IT, the disconnect people talk about just doesn’t exist.

The thinking is that IT will fade into obsolescence as a result of self-service, and as a result of certain processes being handled offsite in server farms and other cloud environments. That’s a misconception. It’s also not uncommon for people to think IT people resent SaaS, and are not proponents of it. But you’d be wrong.

I’ve spoken with many IT professionals about SaaS over the last couple of years, and found that the attitude regarding the coexistence of these two concepts is very positive and incredibly optimistic. And, honestly, I’m not surprised. You see, SaaS and self-service don’t replace IT; they just make the lives of IT professionals (and that of their customers) strikingly less stressful and frustrating.

First, let’s look at what SaaS really is. There are varying levels of looseness when it comes to defining SaaS. Many common definitions also swirl around any web service such as YouTube or Twitter. I’m not here to debate that classification. The point is, SaaS is all about delivering content through browsers (mainly), with all of the heavy processing work, data storage and retrieval and software habitation being relegated to a remote location. The benefit here is that when servers are daisy-chained into massive computing arrays, people get access to super computing resources at a low cost, from darn near any device they have.

Now, this eliminates a lot of problems that plague the IT world, such as maintaining costly, complex, and fragile equipment locally, for onsite data center solutions. IT has longed for remote, centralized computing like this. In fact, the first generation of IT people, in the 1960s, pushed for this kind of architecture from the beginning.

Now, along with this removal of sensitive and hard-to-maintain local equipment, IT people are also helped by the self-service model that SaaS can provide. While SaaS itself isn’t by definition self-service, its web-based design allows self-service applications to be very easily integrated into a structure. Programs like WalkMe (an interactive online guidance and engagement platform) can be integrated with SaaS solutions (pretty much any of them) to provide greater automation and problem solving for users. When a user encounters a snag, or needs to perform a task that’d normally be too sensitive or complex, programs like this can handle it for them without the IT staff’s intervention.

This frees the IT people up from having to do repetitive administrative tasks, or to solve simple problems like “push that button first.” This doesn’t leave IT nothing to do, however, which is where the misconception actually lies. IT people remain very important, because there’s always going to be an infrastructure onsite in some form. Networks must still exist, computers must be maintained, and software must be configured and governed.

For now, the future looks like SaaS programs will never be self-aware enough to maintain themselves (which is probably a good thing). So, IT people, who were once bogged down maintaining local underpowered data centers and solving basic 101 ”user error” problems are now free to devote themselves to keeping the business machine running properly on an infrastructure level, which is the job they actually signed up for.

The stressed, overworked and frustrated IT person is a stereotype that will, thanks to SaaS and self-service models, be replaced by the content and fulfilled orchestrators of the great machines, as it was intended from the beginning of the digital revolution.

IT loves SaaS and self-service, and frankly, why not?

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Image “Tug of War by Duncan Rawlinson, used under a Creative Commons License 2.0