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Altitude 2019 Recap: SaaSOps Is a Thing


October 21, 2019

7 minute read

bettercloud altitude 2019 recap ftr

Altitude 2019 was our biggest and best customer conference yet.

This year, 270 attendees joined us in San Francisco (with some even flying in from Estonia, Sweden, and France). Over 2.5 days, IT professionals discussed their biggest SaaS management and security challenges (and how they solved them), shared tips on automation, and learned about BetterCloud’s product vision and roadmap.

But Altitude was pretty unique this year—there were a lot of firsts. If you missed it, here are nine key highlights and takeaways.

For all the slide decks that were presented at Altitude 2019, check out our SlideShare. To watch recordings of sessions, check out our Vimeo page.

1. Yup, SaaSOps is a thing.

David Politis Altitude 2019 keynote SaaSOps
David Politis, founder and CEO of BetterCloud, kicked off Altitude with a rousing keynote on a new movement: SaaSOps.

The rise of SaaS adoption has created a slew of new challenges, making IT workloads unmanageable. To unlock the promise of SaaS, you need to fundamentally change the way you manage and secure SaaS applications.

Everyone in the audience has already embraced SaaSOps in some way, but there just hasn’t been a formal name for it… until now.

Politis unveiled the first-ever definition of SaaSOps:

SaaSOps noun
: a practice referring to how software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications are managed and secured through centralized and automated operations (Ops), resulting in reduced friction, improved collaboration, and better employee experience

SaaSOps isn’t just a set of technologies. It’s a set of disciplines—all the new responsibilities, processes, and people you need to successfully enable your org through SaaS.

SaaSOps framework

He encouraged everyone to join the movement. Change your title. Change your department name. Wear SaaSOps swag. Champion it!

“The term SaaSOps being defined helped me realize what needs to be done at work and legitimizes my goals for a cloud-based environment,” one attendee told us afterwards.

Check out the keynote slides here, and watch the recording right here.

Join the SaaSOps movement! Join us in the #SaaSOps BetterIT Slack channel and grab a rad SaaSOps banner for your LinkedIn profile.

2. We announced a new Integration Center (plus 32 new integrations).

Jim Brennan Altitude keynote 2019

You asked, we delivered!

During his keynote, Chief Product Officer Jim Brennan announced our new Integration Center, a centralized exchange to discover, install, and configure BetterCloud integrations.

Much to our attendees’ delight, he also unveiled a whopping 32 new integrations to support SaaS apps like Zoom, Atlassian, DocuSign, GitHub, OneLogin, PagerDuty, AWS, Tableau, Duo, Splunk, Datadog, and more.

In total, we are now supporting over 450 actions across 41 integrations.

Submit your own integration in our Integration Community Center contest! To learn more, visit our contest page. Submissions close on November 1st.

To learn more about the other exciting features we announced at Altitude, click here.

Check out the keynote slides here, and watch the recording right here.

3. The CIOs of today shared their best advice for attendees, who are the CIOs of tomorrow.

Altitude 2019 CIO panel
For the first time, we hosted a panel that was moderated remotely (appropriately enough, by Harry Moseley, CIO of Zoom… over Zoom).

The panelists—Eric Tan, VP of business services and IT at Coupa; Paul Chapman, global CIO at Box; and Uy Ut, CIO at Accel—shared their predictions for the challenges of the future. Advice included:

  • The cloud offloads operational overhead and gives you time back. Use that time to add value to your org and get closer to revenue.
  • In the next 5-10 years, SaaS apps will become more complex and stitched together. Understand the technical intricacy. How do they work together efficiently? How can you unstitch them? Be able to explain in layman’s terms where all that data lives, for compliance reasons.
  • Know how other departments operate. If you understand their workflows, you can break silos, recommend tools, get budget more easily, and demonstrate credibility.

To watch the recording of the panel, click here (panel starts at 01:13:47).

4. Attendees learned how to use SaaSOps to automate themselves out of a boring job.

Karel vanBeekom, IT manager at Justworks, led a (delightfully GIF-filled) session on how to automate your team out of boring jobs with SaaSOps.

IT has a problem of scale. Companies almost always grow faster than the IT team grows, he noted.

“This is where SaaS Operations really comes into play as a force multiplier for IT,” vanBeekom said.

By automating operational tasks, IT teams can enjoy better work-life balance, cut costs, get better insights, and free up time for creative work, testing, experiments, and learning.

Here’s how to make it happen, according to vanBeekom. Be agents of change. Feel the change, identify the risks, crunch the numbers (e.g., the cost of manual labor and/or data exposure), and form an alliance with other teams, such as security, legal, and finance.

Check out the slides here, and watch the recording right here.

5. The new IT admin is the corporate engineer.

Blair Sammons is leading the charge around a new discipline in IT: corporate engineering.

As the first lead of corporate engineering at Weedmaps, he says: “It’s not just the ‘what’ we do that’s changing, but more so the how.

“How we interact with users (hell, how we think about users), the stereotype of ‘the user’s always wrong’… how do we get past that? We, as the tech support arm of our company, need to think about what we’re doing for our users, first and foremost,” Sammons said.

Behold his manifesto:

According to Sammons, this mindset, with its fanatical focus on user experience, will help overcome the common ‘tech support’ stereotype. “We’re introducing a completely new way of caring for our customers through technology,” he said.

Check out the slides here, and watch the recording right here.

6. For the first time ever, we honored outstanding IT individuals and teams with the SaaSOps Stars Awards.

This year at Altitude, we were thrilled to introduce the SaaSOps Stars Awards, the first awards ceremony to recognize outstanding SaaSOps practitioners.

Winners included ten individuals and teams who, through their SaaSOps practice, helped their companies scale, increased productivity, strengthened security, achieved greater compliance, protected users and data, or otherwise took initiative and significantly improved the lives of users.

Congratulations to all our winners this year!

To learn more about all the SaaSOps Stars Award winners of 2019, click here.

7. Seven-time CIO Mark Settle shared lessons for how IT can succeed in the next decade.

How does IT succeed in the 2020s? Mark Settle, seven-time CIO and author, shared tips on building a security culture within IT, critical success factors for compliance, and a framework for gauging your personal development as IT leaders.

Check out the keynote slides here, and watch the recording right here.

8. What’s the secret to scaling without adding IT headcount? Automation.


James Kang, senior manager of IT operations at Udemy, and Anthony Ancheta, former IT manager at Lime, know a thing or two about scaling IT operations. Two-year-old Lime grew from zero to 5,000 people with offices around the world. Similarly, Udemy quickly grew to 550 employees and became a global company.

“We were not expecting this kind of growth. The IT budget was not there to be able to scale and grow the team,” said Kang. “So automation was something that we needed to stress.”

“The only way we could get there was automation,” added Ancheta.

By using BetterCloud, they were able to significantly automate on- and offboarding, as well as automatically run reports on publicly exposed data, allowing them to replace manual processes and scale globally.

Check out the slides here, and watch the recording right here.

9. There ain’t no party like a yacht rock party.


Of course, it wouldn’t be Altitude without a party. Attendees got to unwind, play vintage arcade games, and enjoy a set from the Bay Area’s favorite yacht rockers, Mustache Harbor.

Parting words: Let’s make history together.

Altitude marked the beginning of the SaaSOps movement. It’s a new way to think about SaaS, a new way to work, a new frontier for IT—and we’re just getting started.

We left our attendees with these parting words: “Let’s make history together.”

Thank you to all our attendees for making Altitude 2019 our best conference yet. See you next year!