aNewDomain.net — At some point, users began bypassing IT to get their apps directly from the cloud. The cloud revolution — or software as a service(SaaS)– began quietly. A Box.net subscription here, a Webex account there, people using Google doc over there.
In the beginning, administrators appreciated the reduction in workload because SaaS has many advantages such as a perpetual development cycle enabling faster bug fixes and new features to be released much quicker. But the trend, while unstoppable as a $50-billion market in the United States alone, causes all kinds of decentralization issues. Applango is a tool designed to allay some of the problems. My review is below.
Cloud services have created new issues and problems for the enterprise. There’s decentralized subscription management as purchased by departments or individuals and often insufficient centralized security. There’s also insufficient policy management, provisioning, and suspending and de-provisioning of accounts.
Beyond the management of this diverse range of services, a company’s finance department might not have a firm grip on what SaaS licenses it’s paying for. The company might even be paying for licenses it doesn’t use. If it can’t leverage volume discounts, it becomes difficult to budget — how do you plan what you cannot track?
Applango execs found that on the average, with no one monitoring licenses or usage, 15 percent of enterprise SaaS subscriptions were either unused or allocated to employees who had left. Put another way, many enterprise businesses have no idea who has access to what or how much they are actually spending.
Applango estimates that each enterprise employee will use 15 apps. It also estimates that most midsized companies spend $1,500 a year per employee. And according to Applango’s research with CFOs and CIOs, around 30 percent of SaaS spending is wasted. In a 1,000-person organization, that could be a waste of nearly half a million dollars annually.
Even if you have fewer than 15 apps right now, growth is inevitable, and this issue will eventually land on the CFO’s desk. How much more waste will your SaaS create if you don’t take control of it today? That’s a question that needs to be addressed.
As SaaS continues to become an increasing portion of enterprise IT spending, it may even appear in a different area of the company balance sheet. Before SaaS became prevalent, most software was purchased as a one-time expense, rather than a recurring expense.
The decentralized nature of SaaS can even bring about issues for users including support from their IT department. Generally, most IT departments won’t support what they don’t provide. As a result, SaaS creates a lot of unwanted help desk chaos.
Even though individual SaaS apps offer robust management tools, the enterprise has no control or visibility across their entire SaaS-app universe. This is a problem that is beginning to affect CIOs, CFOs and even the employees who embraced SaaS so rapidly in the first place.
Applango’s solution enables users to retain the freedom and productivity of their cloud-based apps, while enabling IT and finance to establish and enforce usage. This also helps with planning and budgeting and to eliminate waste. With an estimated 40 percent of SaaS usage coming from mobile devices, Applango’s solution is both platform agnostic and BYOD friendly. Currently, about 50 SaaS applications are in Applango’s “catalog.” And additional services are being added all the time.
Applango lets you harness the benefits of the SaaS, while enabling the enterprise to coordinate SaaS activities and expenses across their entire organization. The organization can control and manage actual usage and ensure accurate budgeting and cost allocation, thus eliminating waste.
Advantages to the CIO
With Applango, CIOs regain centralized visibility into, and control over, all of their SaaS subscriptions — even if they weren’t created by IT. Applango enables the CIO and IT staff to monitor and analyze usage across all devices, including personal computers and mobile devices. Applango helps to standardize usage to improve collaboration, minimize compatibility issues, and assure policy compliance. Applango also enables an enterprise to set usage policies and detect unsecured apps.
Advantages to the CFO
For the CFO, they get real-time visibility into unused or underused licenses to eliminate waste. It also enables the CFO to take advantage of volume discounts, allocate subscription costs to departments, and better plan and budget for SaaS subscriptions.
Advantages to Users
For users, Applango enables the enterprise to create a catalog of available and approved SaaS applications. It provides a directory of the enterprise’s in-house experts and admins for support and training, and it offer forums for collaborating and creating institutional knowledge about usage tips and best practices.
Applango makes the expanding universe of SaaS more user friendly. There’s a Single Sign-In tool that consolidates all logins and passwords. By centralizing the SaaS universe, Applango simplifies discovery and adoption of SaaS applications.
Applango offers two versions of its solution, licensed on a per-user basis. A standard version includes license management, an enterprise SaaS catalog and single-sign-on features. Its pro version adds the ability to extract usage data directly from each SaaS app, providing highly-accurate information, regardless of device type and setup. This pro version also provides usage analytics across users, apps, groups, roles, business units, geographies, etc. With this level of utilization data, Applango can provide a higher level of business intelligence that can recommend actions to take based on analysis and reports. This data can also be used to benchmark utilization such as which sales group within a company is using Salesforce most effectively.
For the past 10 years Chuck Ward has been the CIO for a private investment firm, and he is a valued contributor to aNewDomain.net. In addition to his day job, he is also the founder of both The Hartford Innovation Center and Stealth Mode Projects–incubating new ideas and mentoring senior engineering students on their capstone projects.