SaaS Users Need a Mental Shift

by Jim Berkowitz on May 1, 2009

Here are several excerpts from an article by Krishnan Subramanian, SaaS Users Need a Mental Shift:

Two days back, Bruce Schneier wrote an article in The Wall Street Journal highlighting the risks in the SaaS based world. He argues that users lose full control of their data in SaaS and the companies are using certain deceptive tactics to lure users into their services.

“Cloud computing is another technology where users entrust their data to service providers., Gmail, and Google Docs are examples; your data isn’t on your computer — it’s out in the “cloud” somewhere — and you access it from your web browser. Cloud computing has significant benefits for customers and huge profit potential for providers. It’s one of the fastest growing IT market segments — 69% of Americans now use some sort of cloud computing services — but the business is rife with shady, if not outright deceptive, advertising.”

His solution to his perceived risks involves regulations by the government to keep the Cloud vendors on leash…

“For markets to work, consumers need to be able to make informed buying decisions. They need to understand both the costs and benefits of the products and services they buy. Allowing sellers to manipulate the market by outright lying, or even by hiding vital information, about their products breaks capitalism — and that’s why the government has to step in to ensure markets work smoothly.”

I (Krish) am not someone who gets upset about regulations. I do feel that government has an obligation to ensure that the users’ data are safe on the Cloud. However, the regulations should be smart and in tune with the developments in the technology. Any regulation that curtails the progressive movement of technology is detrimental to not only the vendors but also the users. The government should work with the vendors and watchdog groups to roll out smarter regulations to protect the privacy and security of users’ data.

Having addressed the main concern of Mr. Schneier, I (Krish) want to address the light FUD in his article. He conveys an impression that there are significant risks in putting the data on to the Clouds. As many of us in the Cloud evangelist community had highlighted in the past, Cloud Computing is a completely new way of doing computing. We, the users, need a complete mental shift in accepting the fact that we are giving up some control of our data to gain access to it from anywhere at any time using any device. In fact, David Powers of Eli Lilly highlighted the same idea about the need for a mental shift when he was discussing the enterprise adoption of Cloud Computing at the Under the Radar event last week. This is similar to the kind of mental shift that is expected from users whenever there is a paradigm shift happening in how we use technology. We have to realize that we do computing differently in the Clouds. This difference lies in the idea of giving up some control to our data to gain universal access to our data.

{ 1 comment }

Matthew Mikell May 8, 2009 at 11:13 am

I think we all get a bit uneasy with the prospect of more Govt intervention. I will say that there are many SaaS providers with limited financial resources and product history so I’d suggest consumers also make that part of their buying criteria. Furthermore, companies should be looking for those providers with Systrust and SAS 70 validation for starters. Both are widely considered as min standards for the industry.

On the side of data retrieval, access to your data should be part of any hosted solution. For some companies, there is one more evolution of the evaluation process.

I believe companies should validate that SaaS providers can provide the on-premise option. If a SaaS app eventually becomes a corner-stone of your business, don’t you want the opton to bring everything in-house??

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