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How Businesses Are Opting To Be More SaaS-Y In The New Normal

Software-as-a-Service applications, if managed well by an enterprise, can lend business and technology benefits

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The COVID-19 pandemic has served as a catalyst for enterprise technology leaders' migration strategies to the cloud. According to PwC, cloud spending rose 37% to $29 billion during the first quarter of 2020. The 2021 Digital Innovation Benchmark report -- which surveyed 400 technology leaders in Europe and the US with respect to their digital transformation efforts in the wake of COVID-19 -- said 43 percent of businesses accelerated their cloud transformation because of the pandemic. According to the third edition of the DBS Digital Readiness survey, 62 per cent of the large corporates and middle-market companies in India are in the formative stages of digitalization.

The IDC FutureScape: India Implications for 2021 reported that cloud continues to be the underpinning platform for digital transformation initiatives and has therefore seen an acceleration in demand. By 2024, over 50% of enterprises will replace outdated operational models with cloud-centric models that facilitate rather than inhibit organizational collaboration, resulting in better business outcomes.

This strong adoption of cloud in enterprises across verticals will continue unabated if reports from Gartner are to be believed. According to the technology research and consulting company, the global end-user spending on public cloud services is expected to increase 23.1% in 2021 to touch $332.3 billion, up from $270 billion in 2020. Within the gamut of public cloud services, SaaS (Software as a Service) is witnessing the strongest traction.

"The SaaS market remains the largest market segment and is forecast to reach $122.6 billion in 2021," says Gartner. It seems that SaaS is taking over the cloud computing market literally.

Software-as-a-Service applications, if managed well by an enterprise, can lend business and technology benefits.

The SaaS applications are relatively easier to understand. This allows even non-technical employees to use them, thereby democratizing IT across the enterprise. While a majority of on-premises software-based applications need a significant capital expenditure (Capex) for their deployment, the cloud-based model of SaaS allows organizations to subscribe to such solutions by adopting a 'pay-as-you-go' model. This converts Capex into Opex (Operational expenditure). 

As SaaS applications are hosted on the cloud, in comparison to traditional applications that are on-premises, they yield all the benefits of cloud access such as updates, real-time collaboration, and cloud security offerings. 

Also, since SaaS application platforms are typically managed by third party service providers, they can ensure that the tools are utilized optimally even if an enterprise lacks internal technical expertise.

These benefits notwithstanding, one of the major advantages of leveraging SaaS for enterprises is in the area of cybersecurity.

The Ransomware Menace

All of us have read headlines about organizations held at ransom for their business-critical data. With new variants of malware and ransomware coming up, enterprises are always at risk despite the efforts of cybersecurity leaders.

It is estimated that by 2025, ransomware attacks would cost businesses approximately $10.5 Tn per year on account of lost revenue, missed opportunities, and brand impact. As per a Proofpoint Survey conducted in 2021, 65% of CISOs felt they were at risk of becoming a target of a cyberattack.

To counter this challenge of ransomware, CISOs will have to build a business continuity plan that considers ransomware or any other cyberattack makes sure the organization recovers from the breach quickly, and that the disruption to its operations is minimal. They would have to put in place a holistic readiness plan that would help prepare and respond to potential outages. 

For an organization to be recovery ready entails that it has the confidence and the ability to address ransomware attacks across its environment --- virtual machines, physical servers, and various cloud platforms. Besides, it should be able to support multiple data-recovery tiers – extending into endpoints, applications, and more. 

Ideally, an enterprise cybersecurity leader would want his organization's data available and protected right from prevention to disaster recovery. A CISO would also want complete freedom to deploy an infrastructure that best fits his budget and needs.

Securing through SaaS

The solution to the ransomware menace lies in ensuring an enterprise's data and critical systemic elements are backed up and offers high availability for restore. This approach can help security leaders to recover from such an attack without having to pay any ransom to the attackers.

Therefore, SaaS backup and recovery solutions can serve as protection against ransomware.

Cloud-delivered backup solutions deliver data protection capabilities, which are as reliable, powerful, and secure as their on-premises counterparts. Besides, they also offer cost savings, ease of use, and agility benefits of SaaS. 

Also, since infrastructure and storage live in the cloud, SaaS backup and recovery solutions build an 'air-gap' that can stop a ransomware attack on primary data from infecting secondary backup data in the cloud.

SaaS backup and recovery solutions also have the potential to index data by name, type, date, and other criteria. This helps an organization to recover files in a granular fashion -- finding and restoring critical data first, and subsequently recovering less critical data. Such solutions reduce the time taken to get crucial services back online.

Cutting-edge SaaS backup and recovery solutions can also leverage ML (Machine Learning) and other such technologies to monitor and detect anomalous behavior, indicating a ransomware attack. Such an early warning of an attack help organizations to isolate the malware fast and begin remediation immediately, thereby minimizing business disruption. 

Maintaining Readiness: Now and in Future

One of the major benefits of SaaS adoption is that it enables a high level of cost-optimization and agility for cloud-based projects. With data continuing to remain the driving force behind innovative business strategies in the digital world, SaaS will be an increasingly affordable and convenient option across verticals going forward.

As the entry barriers remain low and more companies create or enter new markets, SaaS options will continue to witness high demand. 

The on-demand economics and the convenience of SaaS solutions in the cloud make it an unbeatable trend. Leveraging a SaaS model for business continuity (BC), disaster recovery (DR), and cybersecurity has become a viable solution for all enterprises that just cannot afford any downtime.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


Anshuman Rai

The author is Area Vice President, India & South Asia at Commvault

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