Your Software Provider Goes Down – What’s Your Plan?
Most organisations, large and small, use some sort of Software as a Service (SaaS) solution to run their business. Gartner forecasts worldwide public cloud end-user spending to reach nearly $600 Billion this year.
As an established business, especially as a large or enterprise level company, the fact that 90% of SaaS startups fail may not scare you; because it is likely that you are using a more mature, known provider for your SaaS solutions, but can you really trust that you’re safe with your current SaaS or Cloud services provider for as long as your business will exist?
Most likely it’s a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if’. That is, when will the ‘end of the road’ come? And will it be proactive and planned, or abrupt and disastrous for your overall business performance?
With the speed of innovation, increasing competition, saturation of markets and a great variety of risk factors externally, even mature service providers are subject to increased risk of failure.
Remember Nirvanix, which Forbes described as the “cautionary tale for cloud storage” – one of the pioneers of cloud-based storage went out of business giving their 1000 customers two weeks notice to retrieve and save their data.
In a more recent example, Edmodo – one of the oldest and most widely used online learning platforms shut down permanently in September 2022. Edmodo had 100 million users worldwide and existed since 2008. Who would have thought?
Not all businesses survive after a single data breach, let alone a significant supplier end of life. The interruption to your operations, loss of revenue and damage to your brand value is unavoidable, and complete business shut down is not out of the question.
You have a plan – is that enough?
If you are a large or growing organisation you might have a disaster recovery and business continuity plan in place. It pays to review it regularly and adjust ‘what if’ scenarios based on recent technological innovations and known stories of failure.
Say you have the basics in place for your SaaS solutions – you protect / back up your data and you have a plan for migrating to a new solution if the current one fails. We recommend you go a step further and have a list of new solutions which are pre-qualified against your selection criteria.
In this selection criteria, ensure you include the level of transparency your new SaaS solution will offer and what assistance will be offered not just during the initial stages but over time, such as: ongoing maintenance, security and bug fixing, 24/7 support if you need it, as well as flexibility / scalability in case your technological needs change.
Proprietary Software vs Open Source – which is better from business continuity perspective?
The Open Source vs Proprietary software debate has existed for as long as we can remember and we’ve covered this topic a number of times on our blog. Today, we’d like to emphasise the inter-dependence of open source software and business continuity.
No vendor lock-ins
Open source means no vendor lock-ins – you can switch providers, adapt software to new environments and increase your options for business continuity.
Active, engaged communities
Many open source projects have active and engaged communities of developers, users, and contributors. This is invaluable during times of crisis. You can seek help, share knowledge, and collaborate with others to find solutions to problems quickly.
Longer life spans
Open source projects tend to have longer lifespans than proprietary software products. Even if a particular vendor discontinues support for an open source project, the community can often keep it alive. This long-term sustainability reduces the risk of sudden software obsolescence.
Flexibility / scalability
Open source software can scale to accommodate growing or changing business needs. Whether you need to expand your infrastructure rapidly or downsize during a crisis, open source solutions can adapt to your requirements.
Proprietary companies may present you with many similar sounding benefits when they pitch you their products such as scalability and flexibility but these words mean very different things in the proprietary software world, being applicable more to the product itself rather than your business as a whole. The cost of these benefits are likely to be much higher and their longevity will be limited by the proprietary’s provider business performance.
Open Source Software for Education.
The famous open source LMS – Moodle, is used by many major universities and organisations around the world for a reason. Moodle has 377+ million users, 45+ million courses and 2.2 billion course enrolments. Not only Moodle users enjoy 2100+ various plugins and many possible integrations but every Moodle version gets significantly better with every release. The community extends its functionality.
“That’s the power of Open Source,” said Dr Martin Dougiamas in his recent interview, “when something works, people take it up and start building on it.”
Martin is the founder and CEO of Moodle, the most widely used learning management system in the world – now used in over 240 countries. He believes that education should not be a privilege but is a human right, and that more countries have to stand up to democratising technology. His latest project – the Open EdTech Association – aims to do just that, offering an alternative to mega corporations and their lock ins which present businesses with many risks from the business continuity perspective.
It’s not just about survival either.
Open source communities drive innovation at a rapid pace. New features and improvements are continually developed and shared, allowing businesses to leverage cutting-edge technologies, customise them to their specific business needs and find new competitive edges. We’d argue that remaining competitive is no longer enough. To thrive, a business needs to keep up with the latest trends in their external (and competitive) environments and often find new offerings and points of differentiation.
Is Open Source (OS) software really immune to failure?
Think of it this way, there’s plenty of support coming from associated products and services that want to keep Open Source projects alive. These include: support and maintenance services, consulting services, hosting and cloud services, certification and training providers, other SaaS partners (integrations providers), custom developers and other businesses using the software in their every day business operations.
Continuity of too many businesses depends on Open Source projects and this makes OS a safer option if you are worried about the business continuity of your own.
Do you know what you are going to do if (or should we say when) your current software vendor goes away?