IT disaster recovery, cloud computing and information security news

Plan B has released results of its Software as a Service research, which analyses adoption trends and growth opportunities for SaaS providers, buyers concerns over the cloud, and the current state of play of SaaS resilience and service continuity assurance offered by SaaS providers.

The findings highlight that over 40 percent of businesses are already using SaaS for operational, sales and marketing and finance functions of the business, but at the other end only 23 percent are using it for logistics and supply chain functions. The largest opportunity is within ERP and business information functions with 18 percent of companies considering adoption or growth of SaaS in these areas. Logistics and supply chain, however, offers the lowest growth potential with just 3 percent of businesses planning on adoption or growth in the foreseeable future. SaaS providers may therefore find focussing on the bigger growth areas is favourable to their business growth.

When asked about business’s key concerns over cloud adoption, an even spread of concerns were voiced, with data security being the biggest concerns, but only marginally over loss of control, compliance & regulation and availability/continuity of service. SaaS providers should try to understand buyers concerns around moving their data to the cloud to enable them to respond to their needs and allay any concerns over adopting software as a service. Whereas data security is a key concern to some, how a provider copes with DDoS attacks is a bigger concern to other buyers.

One of the key areas that can be improved by SaaS providers is the assurance of service continuity. With availability/continuity of service being one of the biggest concerns for buyers, only 10 percent of SaaS providers offer contractual obligations around service continuity, and 12 percent contractual data availability. Although 43 percent offer service continuity plans, in 33 percent of cases this is merely a plan and not a contractual guarantee, which means that in 90 percent of cases businesses could lose all their service if there is a platform interruption or worse, the SaaS provider gets into financial difficulty. Even more worryingly, 88 percent of organizations are at risk of losing all their data should the SaaS provider go out of business.

Buyers can help drive SaaS providers to offer better assurance of continuity by requesting escrow agreements, where an independent company holds a copy of their data and, even better, runnable systems under contract, so should the SaaS provider be unable to run the service, the independent provider can step in and ensure continuity of service whilst a longer term solution is sought.

A bit more education will empower the 90 percent of buyers who feel that SaaS providers could be doing more to protect their businesses, to ask the right questions to drive an improvement in continuity assurance.  Questions such as “are there copies of runnable systems (not just data) held in a second location?” and “is there a service continuity plan built into the contract?” and “do you offer an independent provider for disaster recovery / business continuity?” should be routinely asked of SaaS buyers. With this a further growth in adoption should be apparent as buyers’ concerns are allayed.

Read the full report (PDF).

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