In the rush to move everything to “The Cloud” with the SaaS movement, are we fully considering the ramifications? Is it really the best move to put your clients’ private information in the cloud?
What is The Cloud and SaaS?
You’re hearing about it on blogs, in sales and marketing campaigns, and at the proverbial water cooler: a huge movement is underway with many products and services racing to “the Cloud”.
What’s the cloud? Basically, the term refers to cloud computing: the practice of accessing software and data through the Internet instead of from a local computer or server. Software as a Service (SaaS) is when the software you use to run your business exists “in the cloud” and is run by a service provider. With SaaS, you do not need to download, install or maintain the software – you just log in and work.
For example, Salesforce.com is a widely accepted powerhouse in the CRM industry – and it’s 100% SaaS. But at what cost?
Storm Clouds on the Horizon
In November 2007, many Salesforce customers faced the nightmare of having their customers’ contact info compromised when a phishing attack successfully hacked their servers and sent phishing emails and spam to those customers.
Another danger of SaaS is the risk of downtime. When a server goes down for a SaaS solution, it goes down for everyone on that service. In January 2009, thousands of Saleforce customers suffered the effects of a 40-minute collapse.
And what about the data? With Salesforce, although it’s internally stored in a relational database, you do not have direct access to it. You can request to receive it, but what you’ll get is a separate CSV file for each table or data type, and it’s left to you to figure out how to connect the relationships of the entities (e.g., which email history goes with which contact, at which account, etc.). And if you have customized your CRM solution at all, those data relationships are even more convoluted.
To SaaS or Not to Saas?
To be fair, these downsides and risks affect all SaaS solutions, not just Salesforce. And Salesforce is a fine company with good people, sound operational procedures, and certainly they’ve worked hard to guard against these risks in the future. There’s much to be learned and improved in the world of SaaS.
But given the track record of SaaS in general and the inherent risks involved, are you completely comfortable with having your clients’ private data in the cloud?
SugarCRM Offers a Choice
If you’re looking for a CRM (or thinking about making a change), you might want to consider SugarCRM as an alternative. SugarCRM offers you a choice: you can take advantage of the conveniences of a SaaS solution, or you can choose to host your own instance of the software locally – maintaining full control of the software and your relational database.
So with all these warning signs about SaaS, does that mean that SugarCRM’s Cloud option is a no-go? There are certainly pros and cons to weigh for each unique business solution, but it’s worth noting that even with SugarCRM’s cloud solution – unlike Salesforce.com’s – you have full, direct access to your relational database.
With the more flexible hosting services available with SugarCRM, businesses benefit from better performance, easier access for customization, and greater flexibility and peace of mind. No matter which SugarCRM solution you choose, you maintain control.
And that’s always good.