Extreme SaaSification:How ISVs work with Service Providers to Meet Cloud Demand. With the consumerisation of IT, mobility and the Cloud, a growing number of businesses are looking to move their on-premises end user computing environments, including legacy applications, to an “as-a-service” model. While many have already virtualised their servers on-premises or moved to Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) or a hosting provider, they are now turning their attention to virtualising their desktops and applications.
Unfortunately, virtualising desktops and applications in-house can be an extremely complicated and expensive task, not only to deploy, but also to maintain, and many SMBs simply don’t have the technical or financial resources to do so. As many have already done with their infrastructure, SMBs are now looking to service providers to make virtualisation happen with their applications and desktops. At the same time, independent software vendors (ISVs) that provide traditional client-server applications are looking to service providers to help them “SaaS-ify” their legacy applications, a vital step to help them remain competitive against new SaaS companies like Salesforce.
Enter what Citrix has called “extreme SaaSification”. With XenApp and XenDesktop, certified Citrix Service Provider (CSP) partners can help SMBs move legacy or custom-built applications into the Cloud, as well as work with ISV partners to SaaS-ify the legacy applications their existing customers want migrated to the Cloud. The benefits are clear for customers:
For ISVs that aren’t accustomed to running applications in a Cloud-hosted environment and are struggling to change their licensing to a pay-as-you-go model, service providers can assist them in realizing new revenue streams in order to stay competitive in today’s fast-paced, Cloudy world.
We’ve written about the customer benefits of extreme SaaSification in our previous blog ‘Legacy Application Migration to Cloud Checklist‘, so we would like to discuss the steps that ISVs, with the help of a Managed Hosting provider, need to take to meet the increasing customer demand for a more SaaS-like experience.
1. Set up Application Instances
In the first step, ISVs should work with a Managed Hosting provider to set up application instances on dedicated, hosted hardware, primarily to gain an understanding of how the original on-premises environments have been operating behind the corporate firewall. This step should include a list of requirements regarding application and infrastructure performance, security and user permissions. This is a learning and test exercise, as running a client’s applications on dedicated hardware can be just as expensive as doing it in-house.
2. Start Virtualizing Servers
Next, the ISV should work with the Managed Hosting provider to start virtualising servers to reduce the physical server footprint and increase speed of deployment through automated provisioning services. Instead of waiting for weeks to procure and configure physical servers, virtualised resources can be provisioned with a few mouse clicks in a matter of hours. This consolidation helps some, but it doesn’t stop there.
3. Consolidate More Infrastructure
ISVs and Managed Hosting providers should then look to consolidate more infrastructure to achieve the true economies of scale that a multi-tenant Cloud environment can offer. It’s likely that applications haven’t been designed to support a single image for multiple customers, and rely on a database to maintain data persistance. By creating virtual instances of the database image, multiple databases can be hosted on a single database server, thereby increasing consolidation ratios. In this step, the developer can build in additional redundancy, and more generic application images that can be delivered on-demand to multiple customers from a single application store. This step applies to other critical underlying technologies like authentication systems.
4. Implement Load Balancing Technologies
To achieve true multi-tenancy that enables ISVs to take advantage of the economies of scale that the Cloud offers, ISVs will inevitably be required to make some code changes. The end goal is to create a single generic application image that multiple customers can use, and also ensure that sensitive data for each individual customer is segregated from those base images. These changes can drastically reduce redundant images, as well as the infrastructure required to host multiple customers. In practice, ISVs and their Managed Hosting provider partners can implement load balancing technologies that will meet customer-specific application performance and availability requirements in a shared backend environment.
5. Ensure Apps Scale According to Customer Requirements
Finally, ISVs in the process of SaaS-ifying their applications must make sure that applications will scale according to each customer’s known requirements. This requires integration with application performance monitoring, automated provisioning and predictive analytics tools that are built into the underlying hypervisor and application virtualisation management platforms.
While there are a plethora of Web-based SaaS applications at customer’s fingertips these days, most businesses still rely on the powerful legacy applications they are accustomed to, even though they want the benefits of the Cloud. Just as it can be difficult for SMBs to SaaS-ify their applications and Cloud-ify their on-premises infrastructure, it can be equally challenging for ISVs that have been selling traditional off-the-shelf software to make the transition to the Cloud. By working with a Managed Hosting provider like Umbee that has extensive expertise in delivering virtualised apps from shared and hosted infrastructure, extreme SaaSification of apps should be a winning prospect for all parties involved.
To learn how we can help you with extreme SaaSification, contact the Cloud experts at Umbee today.
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