Today, virtually every company, big and small, uses SaaS (software-as-a-service) applications in some capacity. For certain business operations, such as CRM, Human Resources, and Helpdesk, SaaS players such as Salesforce.com, Workday, and ServiceNow dominate the space. And the momentum for switching more systems to SaaS is growing. Therefore, the particular characteristics of SaaS systems must be taken into consideration when implementing data governance and SaaS.
First, as a prudent measure, proper inventory of SaaS applications in use should be undertaken. Compared to legacy on-premises systems, SaaS applications generally require significantly less initial upfront costs to acquire and rollout. Therefore, services are sometimes purchased at the individual departmental level with minimal visibility to corporate IT. Also, SaaS applications are often embedded inside other SaaS applications. For example, SaaS marketing application is often embedded inside SaaS CRM system, even though licensing for the systems are separate. Granted, not all SaaS applications will be in scope for data governance. Still, a proper accounting of which SaaS applications are in use is the only way to ensure that you include all the relevant systems in the data governance effort.
To implement data governance, it is important to be able to gather the metadata information from the systems involved. For traditional on-premises systems, if metadata API is not available, the pertinent information can still be gathered from the underlying database used by the systems. For SaaS applications though, using API is the only method to collect the metadata information. Therefore, capability of metadata API should always be part of the evaluation criteria when selecting a SaaS application.
Even knowing which SaaS systems are involved, and that they all have required APIs, connecting them to the governance console can still seem like a daunting task. Fortunately, Collibra offers the Collibra Connect product that helps to smooth the integration. With hundreds of Anypoint™ connectors available out-of-the-box to the most common enterprise systems, creating the integration orchestration is often just a drag-&-drop effort:
Utilizing the Anypoint™ Dataweave and DataSense technologies and the Collibra Data Governance Center Connector, metadata information from the SaaS applications can be easily integrated into Collibra as assets for governance:
SaaS applications are likely already part of your IT environment. If not, it’s highly probable they will be in the near future. With proper planning and using the right tool, data governance implementation efforts where SaaS applications are involved can be just as straightforward as with traditional on-premises systems.
Adrian is the Product Integration Architect at the Collibra Centre of Excellence. He has more than 15 years of experience in enterprise integration, working for solutions vendors, system integrators, as well as in corporate IT department.