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DevOps / Observability

Stop Flying Blind: How to Manage SaaS Apps Like You Own Them

Monitoring SaaS app infrastructure is crucial, but legacy methods don’t work. Manage your SaaS apps like you own them.
Mar 22nd, 2021 11:11am by
Featued image for: Stop Flying Blind: How to Manage SaaS Apps Like You Own Them

Ian Waters
Based in the U.K., Ian Waters is a senior director at ThousandEyes, a leading provider of cloud and internet intelligence and a part of Cisco.

Imagine you’re riding in a plane. But instead of control by a pilot in the cockpit, your flight is being directed by a vast team of people on the ground, each with a different role. One person handles the throttle, another steers, someone else deploys the landing gear. They all have to work together seamlessly so that you land safely, and you can’t talk to any of them to see how it’s going.

Pretty scary, right?

That’s what it’s like for most organizations when it comes to managing critical SaaS applications. The growing complexity and distributed nature of these applications, plus the fact that businesses don’t own the app infrastructure or the external network and service dependencies, means they have little visibility or control over the workflow.

But whether you’re a startup using Teams or Slack to work together, a sales team using Salesforce to manage opportunities, or a retailer relying on Shopify for their online store, you (and we) all need SaaS applications to work so we can work. Your reputation, customer experience and general efficacy depend on it.

So, when something goes wrong, as can happen, what do you do to fix it? Who do you call? You need those answers fast. But even finding those answers can be a challenge.

Traditional Tools Aren’t up to the Task of Managing SaaS Apps

SaaS-based productivity and collaboration tools offer huge advantages to businesses. But they also offer cause for concern for the enterprise IT teams who are responsible for consistent business-critical SaaS application performance.

Part of the problem is that SaaS apps are massive by design. They can run across multiple clouds, regions and data centers — and the public internet plays a critical role in their delivery infrastructure. In addition, external dependencies including DNS, secure edge or Secure Web Gateway (SGW) services and third-party APIs all need to function.

What’s more, troubleshooting the root cause for outages or performance issues is difficult. SaaS providers are often difficult to reach, and may blame the network. Traditional NPM tools are built for networks you own, whereas APM monitoring techniques rely on injecting code (often Javascript) into an application to measure user behavior and timing — but these methods don’t work when the application in question isn’t yours. They also fail to provide a detailed understanding of connectivity throughout the application.

Still, an effective SaaS monitoring solution is a must-have for businesses. Gartner predicts in a report that “zero visibility will increasingly be viewed as unacceptable, and as a result, SaaS monitoring will become standard within virtually every medium-to-large organization’s IT operations toolset.”

Tolerance for performance issues with SaaS applications is decreasing. We’ve seen this as recent events make us more reliant than ever on SaaS functioning well — think about how low our patience is now for poorly performing video conferencing or business communication platforms.

In short, monitoring SaaS app infrastructure is crucial, but legacy methods don’t work. So now you’re probably wondering — what does an effective solution look like, then?

The Key Abilities that Strong Solutions for SaaS Monitoring Need

To meet these challenges and monitor SaaS applications effectively, IT teams need solutions that do two things well. First, they need to provide a deep level of visibility into these dynamic environments to proactively baseline network performance. Next, they should be able to trigger sophisticated scripts that navigate the user journey and compare page performance, so you can see and measure the infrastructure journey that the user is taking through the app.

If you don’t have something that’s active and that gives you deep visibility into the internet, cloud, edge and the app itself, you’re looking for a needle in a haystack.

Fortunately, as SaaS adoption increases, so too are the options for monitoring them effectively. It’s becoming possible to manage SaaS apps like you own them, which means that you can take a more proactive approach to optimize performance and give users a better digital experience.

That means you don’t need to fly blind anymore. Which is a relief to ITops teams, businesses, and users alike.

Lead image via Pixabay.

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