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Gartner’s New Market Category: SaaS Management Platforms (SMPs)

Shreyas Sadalgi

December 5, 2018

4 minute read

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Editor’s Note: Gartner has just published the 2021 edition of the Market Guide for SaaS Management Platforms. You can download a complimentary copy here or learn how BetterCloud can help you out with SaaS management.

In 2017, Gartner included BetterCloud in their first-ever “Market Guide for Cloud Office Management Tools” report. They recognized the need for a new market category to address the growing challenges faced by IT operations teams when managing cloud office applications like Microsoft Office 365 and Google G Suite.

Last week Gartner published the 2018 edition, now renamed “Market Guide for SaaS Management Platforms” (SMPs). 

This new title reflects the prevalence of SaaS workplace applications such as Slack, Box, Salesforce, Dropbox, and many more. In the report, Gartner analysts Manjunath Bhat and Chris Silva expand the problem and market scope to address the challenges for IT and security teams in SaaS-Powered Workplaces.

Interested in learning more about SaaS Operations (SaaSOps)? Check out our “What Is SaaSOps?” page, or read our SaaS management post on new trends in the operations management space. Or learn how BetterCloud can help you out with our SaaS Management services.

We’ve spent the last seven years creating, building, and adopting the first and leading SMP solution, and now a major industry analyst firm has announced a new market category for SMPs. BetterCloud and its community of 2,500+ customers, 100,000 IT professionals, and 50+ partners couldn’t be more thrilled about this milestone.

Here is our analysis of the report, along with key takeaways:

Security policies are the most common driver for SMPs

In the market guide, Bhat and Silva write: “Security, compliance, and policy management are the most common triggers to implement an SMP. These areas represent the most acute pain that will justify an investment. Organizations are starting to use SMPs to create IT administrative workflows that allow administrators to automate, hitherto manual, tasks. This becomes increasingly time-consuming and error-prone as organizations use more and more SaaS applications.”

We couldn’t agree more.

We’ve surveyed, interviewed, and served thousands of modern IT professionals in the past few years, and these are the top challenges we hear about. In fact, we’ve summarized these challenges in this in-depth whitepaper, which features the eight most prevalent security blind spots in SaaS environments and the IT policies that can fix them. Policies are essential for monitoring and protecting corporate data. They bring visibility to these blind spots, which are persistent, growing insider threats.

To this end, in this year’s Market Guide, Gartner has included policy management as a new functional category of SMPs:

Gartner market guide SaaS management platforms categories


SMPs include important CASB functionality

Considering that security is the main driver to implement SMPs, it’s not surprising that SMP functions do overlap with those offered by API-mode CASBs.

This Venn diagram in the report shows exactly how SMPs compare and contrast with CASBs:

Gartner market guide SaaS management platforms vs CASBs


Bhat and Silva recommend that organizations “use an SMP to implement the necessary governance and administration to enable end user adoption of SaaS functionality … SMPs allow IT administrators to manage application policies, take corrective action, track application usage, and automate IT administrative tasks.”

We’ve seen firsthand how true this is. Sensitive data exposure and monitoring, coarse admin privileges, and policy management are the top security challenges that customers solve with BetterCloud’s platform since they can leverage key CASB functionality along with BetterCloud’s unique IT workflow automation function.

BetterCloud is the most comprehensive SMP

BetterCloud is the only platform that offers both the breadth (G Suite, Office 365, Salesforce, Slack, Box, Dropbox, Okta, and other SaaS apps) and depth (all six SMP functional categories) amongst the set of SMP vendors listed in the report. The other SMP vendors only offer support for Office 365 and only include a subset of the six SMP functions.

SMPs complement endpoint and mobile management platforms

The authors conclude that SMPs are a “new category of end user administration tools — SMPs are focused on managing the SaaS component of a user’s digital workplace.“

Furthermore, they write: “SMPs are analogous to traditional management tools such as group policy objects (GPOs), client management tools (CMTs), and enterprise mobility management (EMM) tools. Just as organizations use GPOs, CMTs, and EMMs to enforce policy and support endpoint devices, SMPs help organizations provide similar functions for SaaS applications.”

We’ve heard these exact messages loud and clear from customers. Many of them have integrated and partnered with EMM platforms to drive a unified set of policies to manage their organization’s digital workplace, including user identities, devices, endpoints, and applications.

This graphic from Gartner’s Market Guide for SMPs lays out the analogy very clearly:

Gartner market guide SaaS management platforms CMT EMM


Adapting to the changing needs of SaaS requires new IT roles, skills, and tools. Get the top recommendations from Gartner analysts in this complimentary report: Gartner Research: I&O Leaders Must Transform Their Teams to Lead With SaaS Cloud

Disclaimer: Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

[i] Gartner “Market Guide for SaaS Management Platforms” by Manjunath Bhat, Chris Silva, November 26, 2018.