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How to Think About Integrations in SaaS Management Platforms

Natalie Robb

January 28, 2021

4 minute read

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As IT and security teams look to add to their SaaS operations (SaaSOps) stack, it’s important to understand the key role of integrations in SaaS Management Platforms (SMPs), particularly pre-built ones. So, here we discuss why and how to meaningfully compare pre-built integrations in SMPs so you can make the best possible SMP and SaaS operations choices.

Two kinds of integrations

Your enterprise’s efficiently operating SaaS environment takes advantage of two types of integrations. They are:

  • Data Integration: Connects data flows between two or more SaaS apps
  • Process Integration: Leverages two or more applications for a business process, like user lifecycle management in IT, to complete its task.

Data integrations are usually simpler than process integrations.

Their big challenge here is synchronizing data within timely intervals. And those time intervals must optimize the organization’s productivity. A good example of data integrations? Syncing data fields between Salesforce and Marketo.

Meanwhile, process integrations require a triggering SaaS application.

The role of the triggering SaaS app is to call across process boundaries to other SaaS applications. As you can imagine, they can be complex to create, test, and operate.

Why?

Because they support process state, complete actions, and reporting processes, which all may become memory processor intensive. So now, compute resources must be considered for the process integrations that complete an automated task.

Good examples of a process integration are automated workflows for common IT activities like offboarding users. The triggering SaaS app could be an HR app or an SMP that then offboards a user from all SaaS apps across your company.

As you know, all SaaS apps have APIs that allow SaaS apps to connect for data or process integrations. Enterprises can also use them to write their own custom integrations.

Or in some cases, depending on the platform, availability, and depth of integrations, choosing a platform with the best pre-built integrations may be the optimal option for your IT team.

Now, let’s discuss the value of integrations that come included in platforms.

Benefits of pre-built integrations

As platform ecosystems like Salesforce or BetterCloud evolve, they continue growing inventories of pre-built application integrations. There are lots of benefits to these pre-built application integrations that you can use to automate your IT and business processes.

Pre-built integrations save IT teams time and money.

Quite simply, you save big on IT and developer time because you’re not creating your own integrations from scratch. In addition, they’re already time- and battle-tested, saving you the time and effort you’d have to spend on testing. And as SaaS app APIs change and improve, pre-built integrations are generally maintained, saving you that developer time, too.

Finally, pre-built integrations in SaaS management platforms save you big on IT admin time.

Why? Because you get the benefit of using those integrations faster than if you wrote and perfected them yourself.

Ultimately, pre-built app integrations speed time-to-value and improve agility.

And when it comes to SaaS operations, the faster you put a proven integration to work, the better your security. Why? Because IT teams now move faster to remediate potential security issues and offboard users to prevent data loss. Hence when building your business case, be sure to include these benefits.

Then the next questions are: How does this all apply to SaaS management platforms and other tools for user lifecycle management? What should you consider when trying to compare integrations in SaaS management platforms?

Evaluating integrations includes numbers of apps, actions, and triggering events

So when evaluating SMPs or other platforms that change business operations, you need to keep some things about integrations in mind.

In particular, you need to evaluate:

  • Quantity of pre-built integrations

  • Depth of those integrations

Look at the number of integrations in SaaS management platforms.

Beyond looking at the number of SaaS app integrations, you need to look at which SaaS app integrations are available in a SaaS management platform. Most vendors will have them for market leading apps like Salesforce, Box, or Slack. After all, these are easy investment choices to make.

But to gauge true commitment to pre-built integrations, you need to look beyond the top 10 SaaS apps. Go for the SMP with the greatest number of pre-built SaaS app integrations. This way you’ll have greater choice to select the most appropriate apps without sacrificing the ability to automate.

In addition, it’s important to consider the growth pace of that number of pre-built SaaS app integrations. Needs for SaaS apps change fast and often, so to be nimble and agile to meet them, your platform vendor needs to stay current with changes.

Examine the depth of integrations (i.e., the actions they can take).

After all, you can’t really solve onboarding by just being able to add a user to an app. Nor can you claim that you can fully automate offboarding by only being able to remove a user from it. After all, fully offboarding a user is a very involved process with many more steps than that.

Looking at the depth of actions available in an integration is critical. Time for an example.

Let’s take JumpCloud, a secure directory-as-a-service (DaaS) app that customers use to authenticate, authorize, and manage users, devices, and applications.

Check out its pre-built integration in the BetterCloud Integration Center. Instead of merely adding or removing a user, IT can take a range of actions for user provisioning, group maintenance, and security policies to include:

  • Add User to Group
  • Create System Group
  • Create User Group
  • Delete User
  • Delete User’s Public SSH Keys
  • Disable System Admin/Sudo Privilege
  • Enable System Admin/Sudo Privilege
  • Remove User from Group
  • Remove User from All Groups
  • Reset User’s MFA Token
  • Update User’s Profile
  • Expire User’s Password
  • Reset User’s Password
  • Lock User
  • Set User’s Title
  • Set User’s Department
  • Set User’s Location
  • Suspend User’s Account
  • Restore User’s Account
  • Unlock User

Because you can automate actions beyond the simplistic “Create User,” this JumpCloud integration delivers significantly more time and money savings through automation.

In sum, it’s critical to look at the actual actions that integrations allow you to take.

To further maximize value from pre-built integrations in SaaS management platforms, you also need to look at the number of triggering events. This is important because it’s the quantity of different ways you can use to kick off automated workflows.

Obviously, the more actions you can take, the more you can automate IT workflows. The greater that automation, the more time and money your teams can save.

Your greatest IT operational efficiencies, therefore, start with taking full advantage of pre-built integrations in SaaS management platforms and other mission-critical SaaS apps.

To learn more about how the 60+ pre-built integrations in BetterCloud’s Integration Center helps you discover, manage, and secure your SaaS environment, request a demo.

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