SaaS - unmanageable, but (still) successful

SaaS is becoming more and more popular, especially in the US. In Europe the growth is much slower, but that is no surprise – Europe is usually some 12 to 36 months behind the US in adopting new technologies.

But there is one thing to be considered regarding SaaS – most of the SaaS offerings are more or less unmanageable. The interfaces for identity management, event management and logging and other necessary functionalities are missing. Defined APIs for controlling and integrating the SaaS applications into the existing own IT infrastructure are missing in most cases – or they are so weak that they aren’t useful.

Even more, it is virtually impossible to get the own data back in an useful format. SaaS vendors seem to consider that every information which someone stores in their SaaS application is their data – but it is the data of the SaaS customer. This is some form of aggressive lock-in.

How weak the APIs of SaaS providers are today is visible when you look at approaches like myOneLogin (which is very interesting) – only three of roundabout 60 supported SaaS applications support federation. And virtually none supports an efficient approach for provisioning users from your own directories to the SaaS application. Or have you ever asked your SaaS provider about SPML (Service Provisioning Markup Language) support? The answer probably has been something like “SPML what???”.

The missing support for standards or at least a comprehensive set of APIs for accessing, integrating and managing SaaS is, from my perspective, the biggest risk for SaaS. At some point of time the customers will ask for these features. The vendors which still believe that the world ends at their own perimeter and who claim that every data which someone enters into their SaaS application belongs to them will be shaken out of the market.  For good reason.



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