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CIO  July 2017

CIO July 2017

Subject:

Re: Question on real time monitoring for SaaS applications

From:

Khalil Yazdi <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

The EDUCAUSE CIO Constituent Group Listserv <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 17:16:06 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (1 lines)

I do believe that most SaaS vendors provide performance monitoring (particularly those that support major/core systems). Not so sure that the SLAs and contractual language always meaningfully separate responsibilities (provider vs. customer) in a way that is both observable, assignable and actionable (what do you do when minimum performance requirements are NOT met - are there penalties, how quickly can you expect problems to be resolved, etc...). 



Network connectivity is also an issue (and you should have a "local" backup for the just-in-case -- essentially flipping the model of prod on premise and DR in the cloud).



Hopefully you also have rights to the SW, data, etc... spelled out in case the provider is acquired, goes out of business or is moving in a new and different direction that you don't agree with and you need to maintain business continuity while migrating to a new environment (or where you want to maintain rights to the version of the application you originally signed up).

 

One issue that does not get enough attention when working with SaaS providers is their (separate) contractual relationship with an infrastructure provider -- as typically those environments are managed as multi-tenant (though you would not necessarily know that). There is less risk with larger SaaS companies, but the risk can be material with smaller ones that support niche needs. 



This is also not an issue for providers who support their applications in their own data-centers, but it can be when the application is in a major public cloud. Typically, the SaaS provider has a separate agreement with the infrastructure provider and the customer is not a party -- and therefore has no standing with the infrastructure provider and more challenging, is not known to the infrastructure provider (the IaaS providers have NO visibility as to what is sitting on the VMs and storage that a SaaS provider is using).



The risk here is what happens if the SaaS provider does not pay the IaaS provider and the IaaS provider cuts off services (or worse, deletes the account, VMs and associated data).



In other words, your SaaS agreement has dependencies on the IaaS provider and the terms of the agreement between the SaaS and IaaS providers. You should have some visibility in the performance of the IaaS provider and the performance SLAs agreed to between the SaaS and IaaS providers. While many SaaS providers will suggest that you don't need to worry about all of that -- I am not so sure...



We did explore some possible mitigation strategies for this sort of risk in the context of NET+ SaaS offerings, but never really came to a scalable approach. In the past, I have encouraged the major IaaS providers to allow customers to establish a relationship with them in the case that the SaaS provider hosted in their environments defaults. In essence a business continuity insurance policy that customers can purchase from the IaaS provider. 



No matter how good your SW escrow and data preservation language is in the contract with the SaaS provider, it is useless if the IaaS provider simply turns the VMs and storage off without notification or an option for the customer to pay the bill to keep them on.



Khalil 





-----Original Message-----

From: The EDUCAUSE CIO Constituent Group Listserv [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Jack Suess

Sent: Friday, July 21, 2017 12:14 AM

To: [log in to unmask]

Subject: Re: [CIO] Question on real time monitoring for SaaS applications



Jennifer,



I think your question is excellent and is probably something our community needs to discuss and push on vendors to deliver.



A slightly different twist on the discussion -- I'm guessing that many of the ERP vendors will be using a 3rd party IaaS vendor of some sort.

I find it highly unlikely that these vendors do not have performance metrics and/or SLAs with their IaaS provider. As we often ask SaaS vendors to share their SOC2 compliance, we ought to be able to contractually require them to share some summary of their IaaS performance metrics (probably under non-disclosure) they are getting from their provider.



Secondly, if I were doing an RFP, as a highly desirable item (I'm not sure you could make it mandatory) I  would probably ask a SaaS ERP vendor to describe their API's or real-time monitoring system I can deploy to track performance and monitor our SLAs we have with the vendor. If they are providing SLAs, they ought to provide data to show they are meeting those SLAs.



Lastly, I would ask about what level of system logging I have access to in the SaaS ERP. Can I get transaction logs, logins/ip's, etc. from the vendor for our transactions. It is quite possible that you can't get this information. To this day, one of the major disappointments I have with Google Apps for Education is the lack of logging we get. In outsourcing the activity (which has been a LARGE net benefit) we gave up the detailed logging we used to have available to us with email logs that were often helpful in certain incidents. We can badger google to get these in some cases but if any extended length of time has expired we are out of luck.



Your question is right on target, we know SaaS is the long-term future of ERP. In moving in this direction what kind of logging and monitoring should we be demanding as necessary and what loss of logging/monitoring functionality is ok to give up because we are going to blame the vendor when problems occur. I wish I knew the answer to this, but I'm glad that schools like UBC are doing this before we

do:-))



jack

Jack Suess             UMBC VP of IT & CIO

[log in to unmask]     1000 Hilltop Circle

410.455.2582          Baltimore Md, 21250









On Thu, Jul 20, 2017 at 2:10 PM, Burns, Jennifer <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Hi everyone

>

> We are looking at transitioning to a number of SaaS applications over 

> the next couple of years including SIS, HCM, Fin, CRM, data 

> integration platforms etc.  All our applications today are on premise. 

> A question has arisen on performance monitoring in the SaaS world and 

> what we can reasonably expect.  Can you provide any advice on what we 

> should expect in terms of real time performance monitoring capability 

> for SaaS, or if this is no longer an option, what can expect in terms 

> of reporting for incident handling?

>

>

>

> Any words of wisdom would be appreciated.

>

> Jennifer

>

>

>

> Jennifer Burns

>

> Associate Vice President IT & Chief Information Officer

>

> The University of British Columbia

>

> 420 – 6356 Agricultural Road | Vancouver, BC  Canada V6T 1Z1

>

> Phone 604 822 2221  |  Cell 604 505 9016

>

> [log in to unmask] |  www.it.ubc.ca

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

> ********** Participation and subscription information for this 

> EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at 

> http://www.educause.edu/discuss.



**********

Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/discuss.



**********

Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/discuss.



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