Software as a service: What’s your plan B?

Don't lose control of your code if you customise software as a service products, warns the NCC.

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Using customised software as a service (SaaS) for general business functions and mission critical functions has many advantages.

However, IT insolvency statistics suggest that without an effective disaster recovery strategy, businesses utilising this technology could be seriously damaged as the result of SaaS providers becoming bankrupt.

So, what’s your plan B? The likelihood is; you haven’t got one.

SaaS offers companies a raft of cost and time saving benefits; minimising resources necessary for software implementation, maintenance and hardware upgrades. The approach also focuses application deployment on business performance rather than internal infrastructure, and provides immediate access to new innovations that cannot be realised through traditional licensed software.

There are, however, a number of issues that any business should address before they deploy SaaS. For most organisations, the security of their own data, which will commonly be contained on the vendor’s server, is the primary concern.

But this is not the only potential loss that businesses looking to the SaaS model face. While most are rightly concerned with the security of their data, many fail to consider the ongoing availability of the application itself and, should this application be compromised and become unavailable, how they would recover.

While this problem should be addressed when deploying traditional software hosted on a business’ infrastructure, the consequences of losing access to a business critical application are magnified when the application and end user data are stored elsewhere, as with SaaS. An extended or permanent outage not only removes the user’s ability to support the application in the event of an error; it prevents them from accessing the application, its platform and their data altogether. The effects are immediate and can cause serious damage to an organisation, which can no longer perform essential tasks.

Recent statistics released by the UK Insolvency Service noted a 129 per cent increase in the number of businesses in the IT sector in England and Wales going into administration in the final quarter of 2008*. In 2009, this number is expected to rise further.

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