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Should IT professionals be worried about SaaS?

The rise in availability and demand for SaaS solutions might seem a reason for IT staff to be afraid. After all, if major enterprise applications start moving out of the company IT centre and are simply rented over the internet, does the IT team get shrunk down until they just have to keep the internet connection plugged in?

Certainly some IT organizations seem to be resisting the growing interest in SaaS, with claims in 2007 that up to two-thirds of companies were missing out on the potential advantages of a SaaS solution due to the IT department’s reluctance to consider it. Fears over security, lack of control and availability (‘up-time’) are often cited as reasons for not considering an on-demand approach to meeting a corporate challenge.

However, IT professionals may be worrying unnecessarily. Fears over security and availability can be countered by simply looking at the facts, with suppliers like able to boast impressive figures that would rival most internal IT functions.

So what of the perceived threat to IT jobs?

Even Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft (not perceived as the most pro-SaaS organization in the world) said last year: “There’s an evolution of the IT role as a profession in the world of software as a service. Moving toward SaaS won’t mean the widespread loss of IT jobs because the move will require new expertise. Providing SaaS doesn’t just require moving software as it exists out into the “cloud,” he said. “It’s about re-engineering and a new level of computation,”

It seems clear that even the existing skills that IT professionals have will continue to be in demand. Security and policy compliance, for example, are still issues regardless of where your applications or data sit.

Some of the concern about on-demand applications has been that it has often been adopted on a departmental basis – a discrete application that has been adopted without the involvement of IT and that often sits outside of the company’s mainstream IT systems.

But that is likely to change, and quite rapidly. 2008 saw a number of key enterprise-level vendors throwing their hats into the SaaS ring – including CODA ourselves, of course – and that marks a move for SaaS into a new phase. If more strategic business applications are available to organizations as SaaS, then organizations will take a more strategic approach to SaaS.

That’s a key reason why CODA chose to create an on-demand accounting solution, and to partner with Salesforce – because the combination of CODA 2go and Salesforce applications on a single platform makes a compelling offer to organizations large and small. Organizations will get better integration, the applications will be easier to maintain, there will be improved visibility across the products, as well as the ability to roll up data because of this single platform.

And unless today’s IT professional wants to focus purely on managing servers and administering software and network patches to keep unappreciative users operational day in and day out, that should be good for them too.

Let’s face it, most IT teams are already stretched to the limit delivering the services their employer needs, so anything that makes that job easier should be appreciated. And forward thinking IT pros should be seeking to be more involved in helping the business achieve its objective, not stuck with their nose in a server cabinet.

If SaaS helps the business succeed, then all power to the IT team!

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