David Politis, founder and CEO of BetterCloud, has a hypothesis: The demand for what he calls "SaaS Ops" tools will increase. By "Saas Ops," he means tools that help an administrator secure, automate, manage, and monitor software as a service (SaaS)—such as G Suite, Office 365, Salesforce, and Slack—at scale.
The company bet on cloud apps from the beginning. Back in 2012, when G Suite was called Google Apps, BetterCloud released a tool called Flashpanel. The system helped G Suite administrators configure, apply, and monitor settings and data quickly. For example, Flashpanel streamlined the process for adding an employee from a series of manual configuration changes into a much shorter set of steps. And you could add thousands of accounts at a time.
But since BetterCloud was early to the SaaS management and security market, the company encountered two market challenges. First, as SaaS adoption grew, companies increasingly deployed a diverse set of SaaS apps, each of which met a specific need. Second, while G Suite adoption increased rapidly, growth of the G Suite platform represented only a portion of the overall SaaS market. While G Suite administrators generally liked BetterCloud's tools, the tools solved only a portion of the SaaS management challenges administrators faced.
SEE: Research: Cloud vs. data center adoption rates, usage, and migration plans (Tech Pro Research)
So, in 2015, BetterCloud adapted to help IT administrators manage and secure SaaS systems in this multi-SaaS world.
"We rebuilt the system to enable automation and governance across multiple SaaS platforms," Politis said. "As of [September 2018], we support connections to 10 SaaS apps: G Suite, Atlassian, Box, Dropbox, Namely, Office 365, Okta, Salesforce, Slack, and Zendesk."
The new architecture allows BetterCloud to deal with all the different application programming interface (API) decisions made by SaaS vendors. BetterCloud connects with these APIs to not only push changes across multiple systems, but also retrieve data necessary for reports and alerts. And the updates also helped the company understand how to deal with frequent changes as the supported SaaS providers add, modify, and/or deprecate APIs.
The BetterCloud platform changes seem to appeal to investors, partners, and customers.
The company closed a $60 million Series E funding round in April 2018, led by Bain Capital Ventures' Enrique Salem, former CEO of Symantec. BetterCloud's previous round consisted of $25 million raised in March 2015. With the funding, Salem joined BetterCloud's board of directors.
"When we talked to Enrique," Politis said, "he immediately got it." As Salem once wrote: "The market is speaking clearly: IT operators want the management capabilities BetterCloud offers and SaaS apps will only gain in popularity."
About a month later, in May 2018, BetterCloud and Okta, a leading identity and access management (IAM) provider, announced a partnership to connect and integrate their systems.
"Administrators need to deal with settings, data objects, and permissions, along with identity and access," Politis said. "Okta handles the authentication layer, identity, and access, and we handle the entitlements, settings, data objects, and more—together, we help companies deal with the complexities of SaaS at scale."
And at least a few prominent customers appreciate BetterCloud's automation capabilities, along with the company's commitment to customer service. A panel at Google Cloud Next '18 in late July, Securing G Suite and Beyond: Tales from the Trenches, featured IT leaders from Casper Sleep Inc., Fullscreen Media, Kaplan, and Spotify, where each of the panelists made note of BetterCloud's services and support.
The focus on customer service was intentional, according to Politis.
"As a customer, I'd admired Rackspace's focus on 'fanatical support,'" he said. "I've also been impressed with Zappos focus on customer support. So when we started BetterCloud, we set out to deliver a high level of customer support to enterprise IT. IT support needs are very specific. We provided live chat early on, since many people prefer chat to a call. Today, the support team sits outside of my office."
At this point in 2018, there's little doubt that enterprise SaaS adoption will increase—and the need for security and management tools will grow, as well. Now, BetterCloud's long-term success likely will depend on a sustained focus on scalable automation, security, and support—as well as its ability to adapt rapidly to changes made by SaaS vendors.
Has your organization used BetterCloud to automate and secure G Suite data? Or have you used their tools to help manage data across multiple SaaS providers? Let me know what your experience with their tools and support has been in the comments or on Twitter ( @awolber).
- Special report: The future of Everything as a Service (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
- 73% of enterprises will run almost entirely on SaaS by 2020, report says (TechRepublic)
- Multicloud: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)
- Okta, BetterCloud forge integration pact (ZDNet)
- BetterCloud's 360 video gives applicants and new employees an insider's view (TechRepublic)
Andy Wolber helps people understand and leverage technology for social impact. He resides in Albuquerque, NM with his wife, Liz, and daughter, Katie.