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Product Tip Tuesday: How To See Through The Fake Cloud SaaS-Querade

Masquerade mask - Fake cloud solutions

We take a unique spin on Product Tip Tuesday this week, focusing more on the BI & CPM industry as a whole to help business leaders identify and avoid fake cloud solutions.

Legacy on-premises providers are feeling the heat, as more and more businesses worldwide continue to migrate to the cloud for added agility, greater collaboration, and faster data analysis.

This current cloud momentum has left many legacy players playing catch-up. They’re frantically migrating their products to the “cloud” – but it’s really just the “hosting” of old. The truth is that they’re gluing together old products to a delivery model that was never designed to work together. Worse still, they’re marketing it as if it is a real cloud solution. The “cloud-washing” phenomenon has now come to the budgeting, planning, consolidation, and business intelligence space, where legacy providers are warming up two-decades old software, painting puffy cloud pictures in brochures and presentations, and hoping their prospective customers can’t spot the difference. The truth is, you can’t just move on-premise software to a datacenter, and call it “cloud”. Ultimately, the customer is the loser in this scenario.

Even the media is fed up with fake cloud providers that try to pass as SaaS vendors.

Why? Because there are real, meaningful differences between solutions born and bred in the cloud, and those that were forced into the cloud to try to keep up with today’s business needs. Customers who are unable to navigate through the sea of SaaS-queraders and who are fooled by the fakers are destined to be stuck with expensive, antiquated solutions to run their businesses.

So the question is this:

Can You Spot a Fake Cloud Budgeting and Planning Solution when you see it?

Here are four warning signs to look out for:

1. Fake cloud budgeting and planning solutions are much more difficult to use.  For a budgeting and planning solution to be successful, finance needs to be able to make change independently. That means creating new plans, allocations, or dashboards without IT or a busload of consultants. Fake cloud solutions still carry their complex heritage. Running them in the vendor’s data center still means a complex and IT intensive user experience for you in these areas:

  • Building financial plans
  • Updating security settings
  • Creating reports
  • Writing allocations and formulas
  • Make changes to business structures
  • Tuning the application for performance

One easy way to sniff out a fake cloud? Look for multiple administration consoles, non-browser based tools to administer the app, and large amounts of IT facing/technical administration functionality. Even better – ask to take a free trial, and watch the SaaS-Queraders scratch their heads, wondering how it’s even possible given their solution’s complexity.

In contrast, a true cloud solution is designed from the ground up for business users to manage and change the application themselves because it had to be designed that way. If you can take a Free Trial – and be using the application within just a few minutes with your own data, then you can be pretty confident it’s a real cloud solution.

2. A conversation with a reference customer starts with “What version are you running?” With fake cloud solutions, all on-premise/hosted customers are on different versions. It’s much harder to share knowledge and best practices when your peer is running a different version of the software – one that might be 5 years old. In fact, when fake cloud providers “release” new software, their on-premise customers wait years to upgrade and each hosted instance requires upgrading separately –  often an onerous and risky process. With cloud-native solutions, 100% of customers are always on the latest release. Everyone is speaking the same language, creating a strong community for sharing tips, tricks, and adopting the latest functionality.

3. Fake cloud solutions are often an “operations horror” behind the scenes. With fake cloud solutions, you don’t want to see what’s going on behind the curtain – it’s often ugly. Transition of all that IT “ops” complexity is kept away from you. Good for you – but bad for the vendor – because those old premise solutions were never designed to run “as-a-service”, or be easy on IT. Often, fake cloud solutions each need many instances for each customer, that each requires its own “care and feeding,” and personal upgrading. The fake cloud vendor quickly ends up with hundreds, or even thousands of instances. Each instance also requires personal patching, fixing, and maintenance. It’s incredibly easy for customizations and optimizations to break during an upgrade because the applications weren’t designed with easy upgrades in mind.

In contrast, true cloud solutions are multi-tenant with a single code-base that’s designed to automatically migrate customizations with each new release.

4. A slower pace of innovation. The best cloud companies innovate faster than fake cloud providers. Why? Because they can focus on one codebase and one platform. Imagine a world where your development team has to maintain 4 or 5 different versions of the software to support all the different customers running those versions. And imagine if all those versions were on different platforms and operating systems – Windows, Linux, Solaris, Oracle, DB/2, SQL Server. It’s a matrix of complexity, which saps innovation and resources.

Contrast that with a real-cloud vendor. All of the customers are on the same version and platform. It means a 100% of the R&D team focuses on improving the application that YOU are running, not someone else’s code-base.

These four tips are a starting point; merely the tip of the iceberg as far as warning signs to be wary of. There are many independent research firms that have published more information on the differences between fake cloud and native cloud solutions, which you can find here.

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