SaaS management has become a more crucial area of focus for IT ops pros as cloud-based software packages such as Office 365 and Salesforce become part of daily life at digital enterprises.
IT ops skills and tools that streamline SaaS tasks have grown and matured along with companies founded in the last decade. Such companies include Drivy, a Paris-based online car-sharing service where customers rent cars owned by other Drivy members. The company has grown rapidly in the last three years, and that growth will explode as it merges with a new parent company, Getaround, in October. That's when the company, known as Drivy by Getaround since the acquisition in April, will just be known as Getaround, and the company's approximately 150 employees will become 600 or 700.
In the meantime, Drivy's sole IT manager must merge a complex set of Google G Suite, Microsoft Office 365, Slack and Zendesk policies and data into those of the new parent company. That includes eight years of complex permissions policies and workflows within G Suite created since Drivy's founding.
"Right now BetterCloud is helping me on a day-to-day basis with IT ops for Europe, but in the integration process it's helping me deal with all the information extraction," said Hichem Ben Marzoug, IT and productivity manager at Drivy by Getaround. "BetterCloud gives a full view of the whole domain and replicates it on the Getaround side without having to get deep into the settings of G Suite."
SaaS management evolution reflects growth in SaaS usage
BetterCloud, initially a G Suite management tool when it was founded in 2011, has gone through its own transformation as the SaaS management space has grown. It extended the SaaS tools it could manage beyond G Suite when Drivy began to use it in 2016, and used $60 million in funding in 2018 to expand its product further with SaaS security features and a platform API for its enterprise edition.
BetterCloud touts a focus on IT security and data loss prevention for enterprise customers, but for Ben Marzoug, its SaaS management workflow automation stood out against numerous SaaS management competitors such as VMware's vRealize Operations, Zylo, Torii and Blissfully, among others.
BetterCloud's cost was justified for Ben Marzoug in 2017, when a finance department employee abruptly left the company, and Drivy's CFO, in a panic, found Ben Marzoug and an accounting employee in a conference room to alert them to the situation.
"The CFO sat next to me and went on talking with the accountant. I put this user into the 'left Drivy' org unit [in BetterCloud], which launched an offboarding workflow," Ben Marzoug said. "When [the CFO] stopped talking with the accountant and said, 'Okay, Hichem, how long do you need to offboard him?' I was able to say, 'Who? I don't have any record of him in my systems.'"
BetterCloud's SaaS management tool also streamlined E-discovery workflows in the company's Gmail environment, and established and enforced corporate governance policies against email forwarding by employees. Most recently, Ben Marzoug used BetterCloud to get control over the company's Slack environment, where some 700 public channels, many unrelated to work, sprang up over the last two years. A search for channels with no members and a BetterCloud workflow to automatically archive those channels cut that down to 300, Ben Marzoug said.
Growing pains ahead for SaaS management market
Before the Getaround acquisition, Ben Marzoug already planned to upgrade from the BetterCloud Core edition to the enterprise edition introduced in 2018, in part to use the company's APIs to connect with SaaS applications BetterCloud didn't connect with out of the box, such as BambooHR and MailChimp. These APIs, and the ability to create customized enterprise governance policies and workflows that comes with them, have become an even more crucial requirement as Drivy prepares to merge its systems with Getaround.
Hichem Ben MarzougIT and productivity manager, Drivy by Getaround
"We can't manage every tool -- we're seeing it today with the first interactions with Getaround teams, where we'd have to add 15 more IT people to do that," Ben Marzoug said. "If we manage to create our core policies, rules and global IT governance, we'll be able to replicate it on all our tools with the help of the API in the BetterCloud Enterprise version."
Still, Ben Marzoug is concerned that an increased focus on the enterprise version will leave BetterCloud Core users behind. He said he hopes BetterCloud will offer more out-of-the-box SaaS management connectors, or host a marketplace where users can share their own versions.
SaaS management will surge across the board in the next few years, according to Gartner's November 2018 "Market Guide for SaaS Management Platforms" report. Vendors will expand their focus from automation for specific SaaS toolsets such as G Suite to incorporate more IT operations workflows and integration with SaaS-based ITSM tools. The focus on IT operations will distinguish SaaS management tools from cloud access security broker and enterprise mobility management (EMM) tools, the report states, but integrations between all three categories will also increase.
"As SaaS applications become increasingly integrated into an employee's digital workspace, the need to apply controls similar to those used on PCs and mobile devices will become increasingly apparent," according to the report. "For example, if a data loss prevention policy violation is discovered, administrators can use the [SaaS management tool] to revoke access to relevant files, and invoke an EMM tool to remotely wipe a device."