In this guest blog post, Stig Panduro, Senior Director of Microsoft Alliance at Silk Technologies, explores software as a service (SaaS) and what your business should consider and prepare for as you plan your cloud migration.
In the fast-paced world of software development, staying ahead of the competition is vital for success. Simply dominating the market today is no guarantee of continued leadership in the future. To maintain a competitive edge and meet evolving customer demands, software companies must explore new technologies and business models.
One model that has gained significant traction is providing software as a service (SaaS). By adopting SaaS, companies can offer customers seamless access to software without the hassle of physical installations, making it an enticing choice, particularly in today’s remote work environment.
Is your product ready for this transformation into a SaaS offering? Achieving this requires migrating your software from traditional on-premises infrastructure to the cloud. If your software relies on databases like Oracle or Microsoft SQL Server, the migration process becomes far more complex.
The SaaS phenomenon
Migrating to SaaS is the process of transitioning from a conventional on-premises software model to a dynamic software-as-a-service paradigm. Gartner’s extensive market research indicates SaaS is expected to grow 17.9% in 2023. This surge in popularity can be attributed to several factors. SaaS empowers software customers with unparalleled flexibility, allowing them to purchase and install software at their convenience, and providing remote accessibility. No longer must they schedule on-site visits from the vendor for hardware installations. Moreover, SaaS offers subscription-based pricing, replacing hefty upfront costs with a pay-as-you-go model, significantly reducing capital expenditures.
Simultaneously, SaaS presents software companies with a wealth of opportunities. By offering a SaaS version of their products, companies can tap into a broader customer base. The subscription-based pricing model enables them to achieve stable, recurring revenue. These factors combine to make the transformation into a SaaS offering an enticing prospect.
Challenges you might encounter
While the potential rewards of migrating to SaaS are immense, cloud migration itself poses formidable challenges. Moving your applications to the cloud is a complex undertaking. Some applications can be effortlessly lifted and shifted to the cloud, but others require significant refactoring. This process is time-consuming, costly, and inherently risky. If your applications rely on databases, expect additional hurdles during the migration process. These databases demand unparalleled performance levels, which might not be achievable through native cloud infrastructure alone unless you’re willing to pay for additional cloud resources. These challenges frequently surface unexpectedly during the migration process, causing significant complications.
Implementing a zero-downtime deployment strategy is another potential stumbling block. SaaS applications are expected to be available around the clock, serving a global user base. Any downtime is met with little tolerance from users, who demand uninterrupted service. By adopting a zero-downtime deployment approach, you can seamlessly update your application without disrupting customer workflows. However, downtime events can occasionally be beyond your control. It becomes crucial to establish a robust disaster recovery plan to minimize the impact of outages on your zero-downtime deployment strategy.
As you onboard more customers, achieving seamless and cost-effective scalability becomes paramount. Furthermore, the inherent flexibility of SaaS makes it challenging to calculate an accurate total cost of ownership (TCO) and offer competitive pricing. Questions concerning user capacity, traffic handling capabilities, and storage volume must be thoroughly analyzed during the early stages of SaaS cloud migration to ensure optimized TCO and cost control.
Formulating your SaaS migration strategy
In the face of these daunting cloud migration obstacles, hope shouldn’t be lost. By bringing together your business analysts, architects, and developers and meticulously outlining business and application requirements, you can begin to simplify your SaaS migration strategy. Careful analysis of your software's architecture will help identify elements that can be smoothly transitioned to the cloud, as well as areas requiring more extensive adjustments. Significant code optimization will likely be necessary to achieve the desired outcome.
If you find yourself at a loss on how to execute a SaaS cloud migration, turn to Silk. The Silk Data Virtualization Platform acts as a bridge between your applications and the underlying infrastructure. By utilizing a higher-performance compute network, Silk connects with compute VMs, surpassing the limited-capacity data network of cloud infrastructure. This empowers Silk to support performance-intensive workloads, eliminating the need for oversized compute VMs to achieve faster performance. Silk's innovative design decouples performance and capacity, eliminating wasteful spending on unnecessary resources to meet IOPS or throughput targets. By offloading network layer tasks to the compute layer, Silk significantly reduces latency, resulting in highly responsive applications.
In addition to performance optimization, Silk offers enhanced resiliency through a self-healing architecture that proactively avoids disruptions and an active-active architecture that eliminates single points of failure by distributing management across cloud zones. The platform also provides critical enterprise data services like zero-footprint snapshots, enabling the creation of data copies for dev/test or disaster recovery purposes without compromising performance or incurring additional storage costs.
Scalability is a core pillar of Silk's value proposition, ensuring seamless and cost-efficient migration of customers and their data as your SaaS platform expands. Leveraging machine learning-based monitoring capabilities, Silk analyzes cloud usage patterns to optimize your cloud experience and achieve the most cost-effective price point.
SimCorp’s success story
One company that recently made a successful move to SaaS was SimCorp. SimCorp is a leading provider of investment management solutions serving 40 percent of the world's top financial companies. SimCorp's flagship product, SimCorp Dimensions, empowers over 200 global clients with efficiency and flexibility in asset management. Initially available solely as an on-premises solution, SimCorp recognized the market was increasingly turning toward SaaS and embarked on transitioning SimCorp Dimensions into a SaaS offering. Considering the time and effort required for a full refactor, it opted for a lift-and-shift approach to Microsoft Azure. However, it needed to ensure the consistent high performance needed for its SaaS offering to be a success.
SimCorp turned to Silk and its data virtualization platform that sits between SimCorp Dimensions and the underlying Azure infrastructure. Silk proved ideal for performance-intensive workloads, giving SimCorp the boost it needed while providing dramatic and consistent reductions in latency for maximum application responsiveness. With Silk, SimCorp migrated one of its largest clients from an on-premises setup utilizing expensive compute and storage solutions to its SaaS offering. By leveraging Silk's capabilities, the client experienced a remarkable 20 percent improvement in performance compared to its previous on-premises setup.
Ulrik Elstrup Hansen, VP and Head of SaaS Innovations at SimCorp, attests to the value of Silk: “I would recommend other companies to use Silk because of their ability to provide you with the right level of performance and resiliency. You get a partner that is truly invested in your success. With Silk, we are able to get closer to the promise of the cloud.”
Embrace the SaaS revolution with Silk
The shift toward SaaS holds immense potential for software companies seeking sustained growth and customer satisfaction. Overcoming the challenges of cloud migration is a prerequisite for unlocking the benefits of this transformative model. And while it might be a mountain to overcome, it is not, in fact, impossible.