Providing Reliable, Long Term SaaS Services: The Importance of Scalability

By Terry Storrar, MD, Leaseweb UK.

A key factor for the success of many companies is creating a business model with the opportunity for significant growth. This is particularly true for SaaS businesses; the market as a whole has seen exponential growth in the last few years and is expected to reach a value of approximately $220.21 billion as soon as 2022. Although the events of last year have not been easy on any industry, SaaS spend, driven by the dramatic increase in remote working, has experienced a strong 12 months. In fact, last April, Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, was cited saying his company has seen, “two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.”

However, there is always the possibility that rapid expansion such as this will bring with it some growing pains. The nature of a booming industry lends itself to accumulating intense competition. However, with this, companies must be careful to ensure that their infrastructure allows for the nesseated growth; the last thing a business wants is for success to be hindered by an inability to grow with the demands of customers.

For a lot of SaaS companies working with infrastructure partners, there are numerous factors that can increase a company’s ability to grow and handle increasing demands. There are several factors which can help SaaS scale with their customers, most notably the implementation of flexible SLAs, providing the right technology in the right places and offering suitable support which will effectively meet the needs of their customers.

1.Offering a Variety of Options - Tiered SLAs

Service Level Agreements are an essential building block for any modern cloud-centred businesses. However, SLAs are far from standardised and can differ greatly depending on what SaaS providers are willing to offer. SaaS businesses are well advised to carefully study the terms of each SLA they are offered by infrastructure partners, because growth brings with it changing priorities. What might have been an ideal set of terms at one stage in the development of a business may no longer be fit for purpose once infrastructure requirements expand.

For example, it’s useful to have the option of different SLA tiers that are specifically designed to meet their customer’s changing needs as they grow. This could provide additional assistance for business critical functions and guarantee faster response times, priority technical help or advanced support that delivers round the clock technical expertise, enabling SaaS businesses to pass on these capabilities to their customer base.

Better SLA tiers can also focus on infrastructure performance to ensure that the latency and uptime of key services, ranging from servers, cloud and colocation to network and hosting can be tiered as needs dictate.

2.Providing the Right Tech in the Right Places

For SaaS-focused infrastructure providers, it can be hugely beneficial to put in the time and energy to understand the current and future needs of their client, both in terms of business and technology. Not only does this ensure they can offer appropriate technologies based on need, but they can understand more specifically where this infrastructure needs to be located and what the probability will be that demand will grow in the future. This can be hugely important to organisations selling SaaS products, who ideally, don’t want to be making frequent changes to their infrastructure strategy or partners.

The challenge is, growth can come quickly and companies need to act fast if they are to embrace new opportunities for success. It’s not unprecedented, for example, for organisations in the media and gaming sectors to require dozens or even hundreds of new servers in various international markets in order to accommodate demand for a new title. Being in a position to specify the scale and location of these infrastructure assets can make a significant difference to service performance, reliability and the overall customer experience.

3.Being Flexible and Adaptable to Changing Needs

A critical focus for SaaS providers is their support functions. ‘Must haves’ should include 24/7 support availability, minimum-to-no downtime and maximum flexibility. Every SaaS business has unique needs, priorities and customer requirements, and infrastructure support should be geared to enable growth, not hinder it.

The importance of support has become even more apparent during the past 12 months, as organisations have relied on their SaaS providers more than ever. As services have been scaled to meet increasing demand, everyone in the ‘end user - SaaS provider - infrastructure provider’ ecosystem has been reminded about the importance of getting effective help when it’s needed.

Those in the SaaS business have seen the industry boom in recent years. However, as the market grows and diversifies customers will continue to expect more from their cloud provider and success will be measured by who can meet these expectations. Being flexible, scalable and able to keep up with changing demands of customers is not only the key to cultivating successful, long-term relationships with customers, but is hugely important for the overall success of any SaaS company.

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