Find growth gold in better platform management
If you’re running a SaaS business, it’s easy to be distracted by the constant fire-fighting and busywork. But dig down and there’s only one thing that matters in the long term: growth.
Your growth rate is inextricably linked to your business valuation, your ability to get your next funding round, and the degree to which you have to dilute your share. Without strong growth, SaaS companies die.
While there’s a lot that can impact growth, your platform and infrastructure is one of the most overlooked. In many cases, simple changes to how you operate or manage your cloud platform could boost your growth by removing time inefficiencies, reducing costs, and improving the user experience.
Save cost and time with PaaS architecture
If you’re still using VM-based architecture, you need to think about migrating to a Platform as a Service (PaaS) model now.
With VM, you must pay to scale up before you really need that computing power. Even over a shorter period, like a day or a week, your users fluctuate but VMs won’t shift with this requirement, leading to more waste. Compare that to PaaS-based architecture – the sale increment is smaller, the waste is less, and you can scale almost automatically to suit demand. This saves you money and protects the user experience because you can respond to increases in load much faster.
This is especially true if you leverage autoscaling – either based on predicted loads or telemetry triggers – where you set rules to scale based on how you want your user to experience your app. In our experience, less than half of companies are autoscaling, and if they’re on VM, that number drops even lower. This is a missed cost-saving opportunity and means your gross profit is taking steady and unnecessary hits each month.
Even fewer companies are autoscaling based on telemetry triggers, although this is fairly uncomplicated technology and essential for customer satisfaction.
Move to a multi-tenant platform model
There’s a reason multi-tenant platforms are so common. Share some or all of the infrastructure, and your application to service multiple customers delivers a significant reduction in the cost of goods sold – adding multiple new customers requires a negligible extra cost.
While there are some occasions where a single tenancy is necessary, for most businesses it does nothing but impact your revenue hit and make your company less competitive by passing costs on to your customers. It also slows the testing of new versions – your team will be finding and fixing bugs that will have already been fixed and deployed. There’s a knock-on effect to that too – if there’s an issue that’s affecting customers, it takes longer to reach all of them.
The security of multi-tenancy platforms is no longer the problem it once was. Modern cloud platforms are highly secure and compliant, and they continue to prioritise that. Microsoft, for example, invests over a billion dollars a year in security. NAB and the owners of BNZ are moving 1000 apps in 1000 days to a cloud.
Get your availability right
These days, your customers expect SaaS platforms will always run – they can’t be offline for upgrades or if there’s a hiccup in the public cloud.
Depending on how much you need to protect your brand and your SLA contractual obligations, you can approach this in one of two ways:
- Active/active – this is an expensive option where primary production workloads run in one region, with another region for backup.
- DR across regions – for most SaaS companies, replicating data or exporting the database to a data centre in another region when you need to is the better option. It’s far less expensive and can be done in real-time by replicating a database.
Proactively manage tech debt
An aging software development kit or constraints built into a platform by inexperienced developers can put a handbrake on your growth. The majority of our recent survey respondents said they were managing tech debt, but none actually had a defined, active process for that. Again, this is a huge area for gaining a competitive advantage, just by building some proactive tech debt eradication.
Use a CI/CD pipeline
CI/CD pipelines significantly reduce your costs. They let developers integrate their changes into your application, build there and deploy in an automated way. Without them, you’re tying your developers up in months of manual work.
With a CI/CD pipeline, you can quickly deploy bug fixes and, perhaps more importantly, increase deployment frequency, which minimises the chance that any bugs will impact your customers. Bugs can reach far into your organisation, impacting your customer success, development, QA team, testing and finance team. CI/CD also enables DR regions and lets you deploy into new regions quickly and consistently.
Get huge cost savings with a reservation
Reservations are commitments to a public cloud to buy the same thing for a period – that means you often get up to 75% in discounts. While it can seem unnerving to commit to even one year in the fast-moving world of SaaS, most of these reservations can be cancelled or modified. The cost savings are significant, yet many SaaS companies don’t use them.
Leverage platform security features
A significant data breach can be the end of a SaaS company – on the flip side, demonstrating good security can be mission-critical if you’re selling to other businesses.
We know this is something many SaaS company leaders worry about but aren’t making use of their platforms’ built-in security features.
AWS and Microsoft invest heavily in their platform security features – you get enterprise-level security for cents on the dollar. According to Azure’s scoring system, most companies are sitting at 59 out of 100. Leveraging the native security features comes with minimal costs and will easily get you to a score of 90+.
Get your platform house in order
While optimising your platform management isn’t as cool or fun as creating new promo videos or branded swag, it’s likely to have a more positive impact on your growth rates, your runway, and ultimately, the value you retain in the business.
Growth is what we call an existential issue. It’s life or death. Managing your platform is core to that, but it’s also something most SaaS companies overlook. Now’s the time to build flexibility and efficiency into your platform so it becomes your competitive advantage, not a handbrake.
Are you ready to grow? Contact our team for a no strings attached chat.