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Gartner’s Newest Market Category: Cloud Office Management

Shreyas Sadalgi

October 9, 2017

4 minute read

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Gartner just published their first-ever market guide on cloud office management tools, authored by Terrence Cosgrove. This represents a watershed moment in the SaaS industry.

Gartner has recognized a brand new market category around the emerging set of challenges faced by IT operations teams in SaaS-Powered Workplaces, just as they did for managing PCs and Macs (endpoint management), and managing mobile devices (mobile device management aka MDM/EMM).

Terrence Cosgrove is a research VP at Gartner covering IT service automation research. His research over the last 16 years has included the creation and coverage of market categories for server automation, endpoint management, and mobility management. So it’s quite fitting for him to now lead coverage for a new market around managing the next wave of “IT assets,” or IT-sanctioned SaaS applications.

This market guide is a great read as it outlines the challenges enterprises face in their day-to-day operations of managing cloud office applications (G Suite, Office 365, etc.) and makes recommendations to address this rapidly growing trend. Gartner’s key findings around market drivers are spot on; they align closely with what we’ve been hearing from our customers since 2011. Some of Gartner’s key findings include:

  • “SaaS applications have their own native administrative consoles, requiring administrators to use multiple consoles to manage their multiple SaaS applications.”
  • “The native administrative consoles for cloud office management tools do not satisfy the management requirements for many organizations.”
  • “Cloud office management tools currently have six major functional categories: administration, role-based access control, auditing, license management, workflow automation, and reporting.”

Managing the Day-to-Day Operations for SaaS Applications (SaaS Ops)

With the explosion of SaaS apps, we’re seeing the rise of a new function in customer IT organizations: SaaS ops. In our view, this new function in IT also directly correlates to the rise to a new market category of vendors for cloud office management. In the market guide, Cosgrove writes that “IT organizations can use third-party cloud office management tools to manage the day-to-day operations for Microsoft Office 365, Google G Suite and other frequently used SaaS applications (see Figure 1). While these SaaS applications have their own native management consoles, they often don’t completely meet enterprise requirements. Third-party cloud office management tools have six main functional categories.” We fully agree, and we’ve analyzed that BetterCloud is the only vendor uniquely able to provide all six functions, support multiple SaaS apps, and offer IT workflow automation for SaaS apps:

Figure 1. Cloud office management tools

Source: Gartner (September 2017)

Workflows: The Pinnacle of SaaS Ops Automation

While one may find many of the above cloud office management functions in niche products (or built in-house by using custom scripts), the function of IT workflow automation is something that is difficult to find and build. This is a defining tenet of this new market category where customers are agreeing and finding unique value. “There are many management functions that are virtually identical across SaaS applications. Cloud office management tools can create a workflow that allows IT administrators to create an action once, and execute it across multiple SaaS environment,” writes Cosgrove. “For example, the simple tasks ‘create a new user’ or ‘place new user in the North America sales group’ have to be done separately in each individual management portal. This repetitive work becomes increasingly time-consuming as organizations use more and more SaaS applications.” This is a spot-on description of the problems that SaaS IT workflows can address (and only BetterCloud has built an IT orchestration solution thus far).

Cloud office management: The Next MDM/EMM

A great analogy to a SaaS app management platform (that manages and secures disparate SaaS apps) is an MDM/EMM platform (that manages disparate mobile operating systems, like iOS, Android, Windows, and Blackberry). In this Gartner market guide, Cosgrove notes that “Cloud office management tools are analogous to Group Policy Objects (GPOs), client management tools (CMTs) and enterprise mobility management (EMM) policy tools. Just as organizations use GPOs, CMTs, and EMMs to enforce policy and support endpoint devices, cloud office management tools help organizations provide similar functions for SaaS applications.” This analogy only becomes clearer as our customers continue to ask for a homogenous central platform to manage heterogeneous SaaS apps via APIs.

Demystifying the Market Overlap with CASBs

This has been the number one question that prospects and partners continually ask us: “Isn’t BetterCloud actually a CASB?” To set the record straight, while BetterCloud does have some CASB-lite features, it is not to be confused with a CASB. BetterCloud serves both IT management and security user personas in customer organizations, solving two unique solution sets around everyday operational management for SaaS apps. According to Gartner’s Market Guide for Cloud Office Management Tools, “Elements of cloud office management tools have some functional overlap with tools in related spaces, such as cloud access security brokers (CASB) and software asset management tools. Cloud office management tools will pursue differentiation by expanding to manage the day-to-day operations for multiple SaaS applications, allowing organizations to centrally manage an end user’s digital workspace.” We could not have articulated it better ourselves.

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 Cloud Office Management Tools” by Terrence Cosgrove, September 14, 2017.