Today's enterprise is no longer confined to the four walls of its corporate campus, but has grown to integrate business partners, customers and other parties into its fold. The focus on collaboration and interaction with business partners and suppliers is resulting in cross-enterprise applications.
A key element of the extended enterprise is the evolution of cloud and SaaS (Software as a Service)-based applications. CIOs are increasingly viewing cloud and SaaS as alternatives to save IT costs and improve the value of the IT dollars they spend.
However, every organization that adopts a cloud or SaaS model should analyze the impact of this adoption on its information assets, governance and security. Information is a key asset that helps the enterprise differentiate itself to its customers and extended business partners.
Many organizations continue to struggle with the management of their in-house information assets, and the challenge magnifies when IT systems reside outside the enterprise firewall. The unique value proposition of any cloud or SaaS provider is speed of deployment at a reduced cost. This is possible because the organization has to adopt the service provider's business processes and information architecture. The biggest risk is the creation of information silos outside the organization's fire wall with little or no governance. Many cloud/SaaS providers do not have a well-defined strategy to manage the spread of information within and outside an organization's fire wall; enterprises must consider this cost in their business case. Most cloud/SaaS initiatives require additional investments for seamless integration of the provider's external systems into their in-house systems.
This means that it is very important to have well-defined information management processes to manage a diverse landscape of applications including SaaS and cloud. Organizations that have not assessed the impact of the cloud/SaaS migration to their information landscape impair their ability to integrate the information across the in-house and hosted applications; the result — information silos and an inability to tap into this information so valuable for decision making.
Read more about the pitfalls to avoid and the key recommendations in the article, 'What Should You Worry about When Moving to the Cloud.'
While SaaS and cloud-based applications provide the flexibility and agility to meet business needs, the buyer must ask the solution provider tough questions around both its information management processes and its ability to integrate its applications with an enterprise information architecture within the enterprise firewall. Every buyer must clearly articulate the impact of the cloud/SaaS application on the organization's information management processes and account for investments to align the new application with the enterprise information standards.