Embrace a cloud-first strategy – and underpin it with SaaS

Embrace a cloud-first strategy –
and underpin it with SaaS


A cloud-first strategy hasn’t appeared on corporate agendas overnight. This forward-thinking approach to computing was gaining traction before society was blindsided by the pandemic. However, the reality check provided to businesses by lockdowns and enforced homeworking has expedited its adoption – making it a critical and accelerating factor.

Today, businesses must be bold when attempting to leverage the cloud. This means making the right technology investments at the right time on the right platforms to reduce cost, enhance security and improve performance – which requires a strategy that provides a clear direction for leveraging the cloud to meet business objectives. A cloud-first strategy has subsequently been thrust to the top of the corporate agenda – a shift that has been accelerated by the pandemic because cloud-based solutions cater better for the new business models.

What is a cloud-first strategy?

A cloud-first strategy encourages organisations to look to cloud solutions when developing new processes or adapting old ones, before considering on-premise options. This forward-thinking approach to cloud adoption must be underpinned by a holistic mindset for it to be a success. The resulting strategy should be understood throughout the organisation to ensure it aligns with the business goals and is embraced by all.

An effective cloud-first strategy is not cloud at all costs; it requires a pragmatic approach that generates genuine business value – from greater operational efficiency to increased revenue – through careful consideration of the options available.

SaaS versus IaaS 

Companies that deploy a cloud-first strategy typically opt for software-as-a-service (SaaS) – cloud-based applications accessed through the web or an API for integration – removing the need to host the application within the organisation’s environment. To be effective, SaaS must align with the business objectives and satisfy security, business continuity and disaster recovery requirements, otherwise, it will be unfit for purpose.


Sometimes this unwanted scenario occurs when existing software that’s written for niche markets hasn’t progressed to a truly cloud-based SaaS – creating a roadblock for businesses when attempting to implement a cloud-first strategy.

Businesses that adopt this strategy aren’t restricted to hosting applications in their private environment; if business applications are not readily available in the SaaS mode, they can deploy the dedicated application in the public cloud via vendors like AWS or Microsoft Azure – minimising internal resource overheads. These providers offer infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS): a form of cloud hosting that delivers fundamental computing power to consumers on-demand, securely over the internet with flexible contracts. It’s important to understand that utilising an IaaS will be more expensive than a proper SaaS solution – but cheaper than on-premise.


The growth in popularity of SaaS solutions has been exponential: the global SaaS market is projected to reach $307.3 billion by 2026 from $158.2 billion in 2020.

The pandemic acted as a catalyst for this growth amid enforced remote working at scale, causing cloud adoption to boom at a time when businesses were forced into survival mode. Those that rapidly embraced a cloud-first strategy not only emerged from the pandemic; they embedded the resilience needed to absorb another black swan event and provided a platform to grow in the new world through modernised environments, improved system reliability and hybrid working models.

There are typically two ways software can be delivered to a business: software that has been written from the ground up as a SaaS application and software that is written for on-premise environments. The latter can be moved to IaaS, but without leveraging the full advantages of reduced cost and improved integration with cloud-based security.

A cloud-first strategy encourages businesses to opt for software that can be delivered in the cloud as a true SaaS, as this offers greater efficiency, security and economies of scale. If SaaS is not possible, the IaaS route should be explored. However, the time-consuming and costly process of building new physical hardware on-premises should be avoided where possible. This antiquated approach exposes businesses to higher costs when eliminating single points of failure.

Businesses must be aware that some vendors will package their software as a SaaS product, but it might not be truly SaaS:

  • It might appear to be a web-based application when actually it requires a virtual desktop
  • It doesn’t utilise single sign-on
  • The environment in the vendor’s cloud is ringfenced as a dedicated environment
  • It can’t be used by multiple clients; or the costs are typically higher.

Data security is a major consideration for businesses amid the sophisticated and persistent threat of cyber-attacks. This poses an important question for senior decision-makers: What’s more secure: cloud-based services or dedicated on-premise infrastructure?

Leading SaaS providers will include security and system continuity as part of their cost-effective core service through governance, policies and processes, technology, threat management and accessibility controls. Cloud services can be cost-effectively configured to provide enhanced levels of performance, security and control compared to dedicated servers – and the benefits are compelling: improved data security, high availability, regulatory compliance and proactive threat management.

Meanwhile, dedicated on-premise servers require the IT capacity and expertise to manage ongoing maintenance, patches and upgrades which often get delayed, leading to compromised data – a potentially crippling outcome for businesses, both in terms of efficiency and reputation.

Embracing SaaS

“This critical decision to embrace SaaS must be underpinned by due diligence to ensure the right SaaS provider is selected with the right checks and balances in place. When entrusting your data to a SaaS provider, it doesn’t negate your obligations and responsibilities to ensure your data complies with regulations such as GDPR. You must be confident the provider adheres to the policies that support your business’s regulatory requirements.”

Tarek Meliti,
CEO of TDM Group, explained.

The SaaS market is growing exponentially. Therefore, it’s important not to be overwhelmed by the number of applications available through SaaS by ensuring business requirements are clearly defined and by conducting a comprehensive selection process with relevant stakeholders. The maturity of cloud services means it’s important to challenge traditional on-premise deployments. To drive this, senior decision-makers must understand that SaaS applications can supercharge business success.