As cloud computing becomes popular, cloud management services are a growing necessity. For IT management in software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies looking to free up their time and resources to focus on their core business, managed cloud services are invaluable. With revenues expected to exceed $140 billion in 2022, the SaaS industry is growing at an exponential rate, with companies just scratching the surface of what it can offer. As a result, companies need to improve their processes for faster development and leverage the benefits of external cloud management to tap into these growth opportunities and stay ahead of the competition.
The problem arises with selecting a cloud management provider that’s a good fit for the business. IT Managers, CIOs, and SaaS managers also have to contend with getting buy-in from the rest of the team and demonstrate the return on investment (ROI) of managed cloud.
Identifying the Right Cloud Management Provider
The best practice is to begin with a clear understanding of what you want in a managed cloud solution by performing an audit on all software and systems within your company, including applications in use or considered for use. With this information as your baseline, you can determine the resources you need, the functions to outsource, how much autonomy to give your provider, and the recurring cost.
You should then carefully consider the following critical areas:
- Data security: Cloud computing is a prime target for hackers, and cloud misconfiguration leading to data insecurity was one of the top concerns cited by IT managers in Fugue’s The State of Cloud Security 2021 survey. Your potential provider should be able to help you navigate potential security exposure and suggest solutions.
- Cost: Cloud management providers typically have low upfront costs, but they are recurring fees that may be unjustifiable. You will want to understand the details of the pricing model for your specific needs.
- Cloud expertise: The cloud management provider must have a team that includes specialists in cloud architecture, security, and compliance, network operations center technicians (NOC), and software development engineers (SDE) with broad experience across multiple public clouds. You should also consider their experience in the geographic region they will be serving you.
- Service guarantees and SLAs: Cloud management providers should offer a money-back guarantee if there is no demonstrable improvement to your business, as well as an SLA that covers uptime, data confidentiality, security best practices, and other standard terms.
Getting Buy-in from all Stakeholders
Hosting your application on a managed cloud platform is more than just paying for space online — you’ll need buy-in from all sectors across your business. For starters, your company may have to invest upfront (plus monthly fees), which could impact revenues because if the project goes poorly, so does your bottom line. And don’t forget about those additional expenses like buying extra services or training. Convincing the rest of your team to invest is an important hurdle to clear.
Introduce the proposal to key team members individually, highlighting the benefits to the business, and then hold training and onboarding sessions with affected staff. This approach helps you identify potential objections and address them before presenting the proposal to the whole team.
Holding training and onboarding sessions with staff affected by the change keeps everyone informed and onboard. Doing this can make a world of difference when it comes to identifying implementation gaps and resolving issues. Also, having early discussions with staff to identify the problems in their work areas that a managed cloud solution can fix is a faster path to approval.
Measuring ROI of Managed Cloud
A managed cloud service can help you reduce costs and increase productivity. You’ll want to make sure that your buy-in stage is successful by asking the right questions, like what metrics are important for us?
The benefits of a managed cloud solution include:
- Decreased deployment time.
- Increased uptime and availability.
- Reduced operational costs such as hiring employees to manage your cloud resources.
You’ll need to ensure that the spend is worth it by establishing key performance indicators (KPIs) for measuring its ROI over time. These may include: the number of days of downtime, uptime percentage, cloud costs per month, cloud spend vs. savings on hardware and software expenditures.
You’ll also want to identify the financial impact of managed cloud services in your company’s most critical business activities by calculating Cloud ROI for Core Costs – Cloud Spend (Opportunity Cost) + Cloud Savings from Reductions in Cloud Spend.
Migrating to a Cloud Management Service
Before you move all data over to your cloud management service, ensure that everything is in order regarding data backup. Cloud migration can be a risky process, so you’ll want to take all the necessary precautions and have contingency plans in place just in case something goes wrong with your deployment.
A significant consideration is whether or not the move will impact the performance of specific business activities. For example:
- If migration impacts response time for customer service or the quality of a product, migration may not be in your best interest.
- If migration impacts back-office applications and data processing for billing and other operations, you should consider managed cloud services with uptime guarantees to avoid affecting this critical business activity.
If you decide to move forward with the managed cloud provider, start by documenting your cloud migration plan, including steps to be taken before moving data over, during the move, and post-deployment.
Next, draft a project brief that includes details on who is involved in the decision-making process at each stage (i.e., cloud architect, cloud management provider).
Finally, identify what metrics you will use to gauge success and start measuring your KPIs over time to determine cloud ROI.
For SaaS companies, a cloud management service is a great way to take away the stress and responsibility of running and maintaining your cloud infrastructure. It frees up your time and resources while also giving you access to scalability and value-added services. Some standard value-added services include load balancing solutions, on-demand DevOps environments, pay-as-you-go services that reduce your capital expenditure, DDoS attack protection, firewalls, vulnerability scans, data backups, and much more, depending on the provider.