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The IT Leader’s Glossary for SaaS Operations

Natalie Robb

January 23, 2020

4 minute read

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Getting a handle on SaaSOps? Looking to become a SaaSOps Star? This glossary is the place to deepen your understanding of the basic components of SaaSOps. Learn all the terms, phrases, and acronyms that you need to know as a SaaSOps professional.

API
Known as Application Programming Interface, it specifies how software components interact, allowing two applications to communicate with each other.

API frameworks
A collection of APIs that make application creation easier and faster by providing reusable components.

Application configuration
Refers to the management of user, group, and file settings/controls. This can apply to the initial configuration of these settings (e.g., when an organization adopts a new SaaS application) or ongoing management, like detecting and remediating when changes and misconfigurations are made to settings in an existing application.

Auditability
Ability to control, track, and view changes made by administrators. It is critical for security coverage and regulatory compliance.

Authentication
Process to grant access to apps by verifying that users are who they claim to be. Authentication solves the first order problem: identity/access.

Authorization
Process to grant access to specific SaaS data, configurations, resources, or functions. Authorization solves the second order problem: user interactions.

Digital workplace
Professional environment where employees are enabled and empowered to use the latest technology to stay engaged and productive.

EMM
Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) is an enterprise solution to distribute, manage, and secure mobile endpoints, such as phones, tablets, and laptops that are used by employees.

File security
Process to protect the most sensitive data stored in files across your SaaS apps, including customer data, employee data, company IP, etc. It protects files within SaaS applications from being leaked, inappropriately shared, or downloaded to users’ computers for unauthorized use.

Heterogeneous environment
A best-of-breed approach that allows organizations to pick and choose cloud applications that best suit their needs, as opposed to keeping with a single vendor.

Homogeneous environment
An approach in IT where organizations standardize on solutions from a single vendor.

IAM
Identity and access management (IAM) refers to policies and technologies that ensure users have appropriate access to apps at the right time.

IDaaS
Identity-as-a-service (IDaaS) refers to cloud-based identity and access management services that are offered on a subscription basis.

Incident response
Umbrella term for activities where an organization recognizes and responds to an event. The purpose is to gather the information required to make educated decisions about how to deal with a specific event and act upon the information gathered.

Insider threat
A current or former employee, contractor, or business partner who has access to an organization’s network, systems, or data and is:

  • Compromised (exploited by outsiders through compromised credentials)
  • Malicious (intentionally causes harm, either for personal or financial gain)
  • Negligent (well-meaning, but accidentally exposes sensitive information)

ITSM
Information Technology Service Management (ITSM) refers to policy-directed activities, processes, and procedures that organizations do to plan, deliver, operate, and control IT services.

Least privilege access
Process of granting a user the minimum permissions required in order to do their job and nothing more.

MFA
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is the process of granting access to SaaS and IT resources after a user successfully gives two or more pieces of evidence that confirms their identity.

SaaS
Software-as-a-service (SaaS) is a method of software delivery and licensing in which software is accessed online via a subscription.

SIEM
Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) refers to the real-time analysis of security alerts from SaaS applications, IT, and network infrastructure.

SaaS management
Process of managing onboarding, offboarding, and app configurations across SaaS apps. Core tenets of SaaS management include visibility across apps as well as the ability to audit admin activity and enforce a least privilege model. SaaS management ensures that users have the right access to the right data at the right time.

SaaS Operations
An IT 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. It does not refer to uptime, performance, or availability of a SaaS app.

SaaSOps
The shortened term that refers to SaaS Operations.

SaaS security
Process to protect mission-critical data in SaaS apps so that companies can avoid data breaches/leakage, compliance fines, loss of IP, loss of competitive advantage, and/or business disruption.

Shadow IT
The use of software, systems, and other IT solutions without IT’s explicit approval or knowledge.

Spend management
Ability to manage and control SaaS costs by centralizing visibility of subscriptions and usage to identify unnecessary spending.

SSO
Single Sign-on (SSO) refers to session and user authentication where a user uses the same login credentials to access multiple apps.

System of record
Information storage that is the authoritative data source. Organizations trust SaaS vendors to house mission-critical, irreplaceable data.

Regulatory compliance
Activities that ensure an organization is compliant with and continues to remain compliant with the rules and bylaws of different regulatory boards (ex. PII, HIPAA, GDPR, etc).

User interaction
The action a user takes to get work done in the digital workplace. It refers to the processes users are performing inside SaaS apps, the people they’re interacting with, and the data they’re interacting with. (Examples: sharing a Google Drive file with a partner, creating a public Office 365 group, downloading a folder from Dropbox).

User lifecycle management
User lifecycle management (ULM) refers to the processes that occur during lifecycle changes. This includes onboarding and offboarding as well as mid-lifecycle changes. Events like switching teams, promotions, leaves of absence, etc. all require changes in access rights, group memberships, entitlements, etc.

Visibility
Ability to view all of the users, groups, and files in an organization’s SaaS applications in a single place. It is key to identify problem areas within an organization’s environment.

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