Software as a Service (SaaS) has dramatically transformed the customer experience for many business application users. No longer do they have to plunk down thousands to millions of dollars for a piece of software that quickly becomes obsolete.
With SaaS, they simply subscribe to the number of licenses they need. On-boarding more employees? No problem! They can subscribe to new licenses in just minutes. Scaling back? They can unsubscribe almost as quickly. Perhaps best of all, users of SaaS applications can often keep their applications up to date with the click of a button.
SaaS growth on the rise
These are just some of the reasons many enterprises are looking to implement a SaaS-only model in their organizations. In their 2020 State of the Cloud report, Flexera also found that 43% of respondents named ‘moving on-prem software to SaaS’ a top priority for 2020. That’s up from 29% in 2019.
That’s just a look at the growth in SaaS applications designed for the enterprise. It doesn’t really consider the growing number of point solutions designed for the consumer or small to mid-sized businesses. The 50 largest publicly held SaaS solution companies as of January 2020 shows a number of names that offer products for use outside the enterprise. SaaS applications are big business.
Unfortunately, there’s a dark side to SaaS, too. Along with an explosion in new SaaS companies, the market is also seeing a significant amount of churn. According to Autopsy.com (a site focused on the death of startups, not people), as much as 92% of startups fail within three years.
If SaaS is about an improved user experience, then SaaS success will require the developer to focus on and continue to improve the SaaS experience. Many SaaS developers are doing just that with a concept called Edge Computing.
How the edge supports SaaS companies
SaaS developers deliver their applications through the cloud. These cloud resources (hardware and software) are owned and maintained by the SaaS company or a third party like TierPoint. Data is sent back and forth, usually over the internet, between the user’s console and the SaaS infrastructure.
But what if the company’s SaaS infrastructure is in New York and the customer is in California? That can have an impact on the user’s experience because distance can create lag time between a request from the user’s system and a response from the SaaS infrastructure. For some applications, it may not matter much, but for others, e.g., POS or customer service systems, even a few seconds of lag time can create a negative experience. For more advanced applications, such as robotic surgery or self-driving cars, lag time is out of the question.
Advancements like 5G will have an impact, but this impact will be short-lived in our data-driven world as applications advance to take advantage of the increased bandwidth. Edge computing is about reducing that lag time by moving the SaaS infrastructure closer to the customer.
Of course, if you’re a SaaS company serving multiple markets, the last thing you want to do is focus your efforts on setting up multiple data centers in multiple markets across the country. Most SaaS companies would rather focus on creating great applications.
Also read: Does Proximity Matter for your Data Center?
That’s where the right third-party providers can help. For example, TierPoint operates a network of forty data centers across the U.S. A company based in New York City might house their corporate systems in our Hawthorne data center and then house their customers’ applications and data in multiple Midwestern data centers closer to their customer base, e.g., Chicago, Oklahoma City, and Little Rock.
The ‘need for speed’ with today’s applications is driving tremendous growth in edge data centers. MarketWatch predicts that investments in edge computing will grow 27% annually through 2023. Bell Labs also predicts that 60% of all servers will be housed at the edge by 2025. That’s a tremendous move away from the centralized data centers of the past.
Edge computing is about more than just latency
For SaaS companies, working with an edge provider is about more than just reducing latency to improve the customer experience. Edge computing can also reduce overall costs and allow you to pass on those savings to your customers or improve your bottom line. One of the most obvious ways we can reduce costs is by allowing you to free your organization from the overhead of maintaining your own systems.
Also read: The Strategic Guide to Edge Computing
Not having to maintain your data center infrastructure can also help you increase organizational agility. SaaS companies often follow a continuous integration/continuous delivery cycle that allows them to deliver new features and applications faster than ever. We enable this model by focusing on your infrastructure while you focus on your applications.
If your customers use your applications to store or handle sensitive data, security is no doubt one of their concerns. Keeping up with the ever-changing cybersecurity threat landscape can be hard for the SaaS company focusing on delivering great applications. We can manage the security of your infrastructure in our edge data centers, freeing you up from one more worry that takes you away from a focus on your customers.
Last, but certainly not least, organizations that manage their own data centers may be more susceptible to unplanned downtime – and that can affect the customer experience even more than latency. A managed service provider can keep an eye on your edge data center and address any performance issues before they’re noticed by your customers. They can also help you develop a disaster recovery strategy that keeps your customers up and running no matter what mother nature (or human nature) throws your way.
Ready to improve your customer experience?
If you’d like to learn more about edge computing and how it can help you create an even better customer experience, reach out to us today. One of our advisors would be happy to talk with you about your data center challenges and how we can help solve them.