SaaS Scaling with Security in Mind

For software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies, survival depends on the ability to scale up rapidly while adapting to user demands and improving functionality. When starting out, entrepreneurs recognize a pain point for either other businesses or consumers and build solutions using automation and software to fill a need. But they must act fast, because other companies are likely working on the very same issue. Getting to the market first is critical—and it can make or break their chances of survival.

As your SaaS company grows, in order to compete you will continue to react to changing market conditions, newly uncovered customer needs, emerging opportunities, and developing threats. You’ll be under pressure to evolve with agility and speed. Until recently this meant expanding data centers and upgrading networks to scale. Today, cloud service providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure make it easier to provision and deprovision resources quickly. Being able to deploy those resources to scale horizontally at all layers is the challenge and finding bottlenecks and eliminating them is key to success.

Developer teams already know that simply adding internal resources won’t necessarily help. In his classic development treatise, The Mythical Man-Month, IBM computer scientist Fred Brooks explained in colorful terms the challenge of just throwing more resources at a problem: “The bearing of a child takes nine months, no matter how many women are assigned.” In effect, just because one woman can have a baby in nine months doesn’t mean nine women can have a baby in one month. And it certainly wouldn’t help to throw a man into the mix to speed things up—and in this case, he’s not equipped to help. In addition, every person or skill set you add to a problem can also add friction.

To successfully deliver SaaS at scale now requires more than growing the team or expanding infrastructure. SaaS businesses born in the cloud now require large technology stacks that must be carefully integrated to successfully deploy without producing gaps in security or creating bottlenecks. Their only choice is to automate core security tasks by embedding security into the DevOps workflow. And to scale up, SaaS providers must design for complexity, which introduces new vulnerabilities and requires new competencies from their developer teams.
Take for example security and compliance. Applications and data in the cloud require unique skill sets and an ever-expanding knowledge of complexity. When Armor customer SaRA Health began building a digital platform to improve patient outcomes by simplifying the injury recovery process, its executives chose us to help them grow securely and meet HIPAA requirements. SaRA Health was able to focus on its core business without hiring additional employees who specialize in HIPAA infrastructure. Armor was also able to quickly scale with the company as it grew, creating new environments for testing, staging, and production to improve efficiency. In the marketplace, Armor’s offering stood as a proof point for the company when customers asked about HIPAA compliance. In the case of SaRA Health, Armor brought the expertise of integration with AWS.

“With Armor and AWS combined, we now have protection in key portions of our tech stack and visibility into potential areas for improvement in the areas that AWS is not responsible for,” said Steven Coen, CEO of SaRA Health. “In combination, they help us achieve our goal doing more than just the minimum but making security a priority to ensure that patients and providers can trust us with their sensitive information as we continue to grow through the years.”

Fact is, SaaS providers are now keenly responsible for all the technical complexity that allows them to deliver solutions to end users consistently and securely. In the shared responsibility model, cloud providers such as AWS and Azure are focused on infrastructure; SaaS providers must secure client-side data inputs, identity and access management, and server-side encryption. In a recent blog post, we discussed the importance of a Secure Left approach in development to not only ensure success of new SaaS applications, but to ensure their very viability. Expectations of the SaaS itself continue to increase, including performance and uptime, demand for new features, and the liability due to exposure to multiple businesses that come to rely on SaaS products.

What’s more SaaS spending continues to grow dramatically across organizations as a variety of business functions and departments choose their own solutions, each with unique user, security and compliance requirements. Sales may need to adhere to PCI compliance configurations while downstream marketing may need to adhere to GDPR requirements. According to Blissfully’s Annual 2018 SMB SaaS Trends Report, the average SMB has 18 SaaS subscriptions with an annual spend of $136,000. And while every team may know which apps will make them more productive, not everyone is aware of the security and compliance concerns that come with the adoption of a new app. For every user group, the effective and secure use of SaaS applications is critical to business continuity and success.

Armor allows developer teams to scale securely by addressing security early in the product lifecycle and providing industry-leading, cloud-native security and compliance expertise. SaaS businesses can confidently rely on cloud-born security algorithms and technology stacks developed by our team since the earliest days of cloud computing and promote those features to customers. With Armor, SaaS companies can count on value-added resources to grow their business and showcase world-class security and compliance to end users adopting their critical business solutions.

Speed and Ease of Deployment
Our experience integrating security controls with existing cloud providers can accelerate development efforts.

Integration into the Software Development Lifecycle
The Armor Anywhere solution can be integrated into the software development lifecycle for automated provisioning of protection. Instead of relying on resources to develop security expertise, Armor can provide technology that establishes and maintains a cloud security posture management program.

24/7/365 Coverage
Security monitoring can take valuable time away from developers and DevOps team members. Armor provides fully managed and continuously monitored expertise 24/7/365 to offload this burden.

Find out more about Armor’s security solutions for SaaS providers.

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