Enterprises face a number of challenges in selecting SaaS provider, says Gartner

Challenges include new management and control requirements

Enterprises face a number of challenges in selecting a software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider, such as different features and functionality than on-premise software, new management and control requirements, IT architectural changes and multitenant versus dedicated options, according to Bill Pray, research director at Gartner.

"Software-as-a-service is not as easy as you might think… When it comes to meeting the enterprise needs and selecting the best SaaS solution, it is a nuanced and complex process," Pray told a webinar audience on Wednesday.

"Often what is offered as software-as-a-service does not have the same features and functions as on-premise software that you might be using currently. There is often not feature or pricing parity even among similar software-as-a-service offerings in a single market. For example, the web conferencing market has numerous vendors offering different price points with different capabilities and functionality," Pray added.

In addition, enterprises often have to invest in new management and control capabilities in order to deliver SaaS solutions. "IT often becomes tasked with ensuring that the SaaS service meets the enterprise requirements, adheres to service level agreements, complies with security policies and interoperates with the existing infrastructure and endpoints," Pray said.

Also, implementing a SaaS service requires IT architectural changes, including accommodating service delivery through the network, facilitating endpoint access to services and implementing controls, Pray said.

The Gartner analyst explained there are many "flavors" of multitenant and dedicated SaaS offerings. "This creates a conundrum when the enterprise examines the impact on data controls, user administration, auditing, costs and support," he said.

Pray offered three recommendations for enterprises when considering a SaaS solution: identify the business and technical requirements for the SaaS service being considered; create and customize the evaluation criteria to the enterprise's requirements and plan for and implement a hybrid delivery model.

At its Symposium ITxpo 2012 held in October, Gartner estimated that spending on cloud services would increase 19 percent per year until 2016, with the SaaS segment increasing at a 19.1 percent annual rate.

For more:
- check out the Gartner webinar (reg. req.)

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