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IBM and other mainframe companies established the concept of software as a service (SaaS) as far back as the 1960s. Since then, SaaS has come a long way in enabling companies to shift electronic content and its management to the cloud as a means to reduce information technology (IT) storage costs and support requirements, while providing substantial flexibility and scalability to end users and IT departments.

In a previous DOCUMENT Strategy article titled, "Six Information Governance Cloud Risks to Uncover," I shared some warning signals regarding key information governance (IG) risks that must be assessed and addressed as the various flavors of the cloud are proposed in the enterprise. These risks are still present, but successful mitigation opens the door to not only taking advantage of public, private, and hybrid cloud models, hyper-converged infrastructures (HCI), infrastructure as a service (IaaS), and platform as a service (PaaS), but it also opens the possibilities for IG solutions to be run in the cloud in a SaaS model.

SaaS Versus Cloud Computing

Webopedia defines SaaS as, "A software delivery method that provides access to software and its functions remotely as a web-based service." SaaS software is leased, and the owner is responsible for maintaining it as a service to your organization. It is hosted in the cloud, not on your infrastructure, so your user base accesses the software over the Internet.

Within the cloud-based services and infrastructure market that amounted to $110 billion in 2015, SaaS offerings grew at approximately 30% annually, with private and hybrid cloud offerings growing at approximately 45% annually. This year, it is expected that SaaS will finally command a larger share of the enterprise software market, since increasing numbers of organizations will be looking to consolidate their cloud-oriented business functions and enterprise IT policies.

Cloud computing is defined by Webopedia as, “A type of computing that relies on sharing resources rather than having local servers or personal devices to handle applications.” So, while SaaS runs on the cloud, it is not considered to be “the cloud” by IT professionals.

There are many information governance solutions that are now connected to the cloud and are even running on the cloud as SaaS solutions. This connection is important, as records managers and IG professionals search for the holy grail of federated enterprise records management—the ability to apply retention control over records and information regardless of their repository location, such as SharePoint, file shares, Documentum/other enterprise content management (ECM) systems, archives, etc. The closer federation comes as a reality for on-premise records, data, and information, the farther away it is on the grander scale of the explosion of information going to the cloud. So, as the saying goes, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!”

Brett Claffee is the Information Governance Business Lead from Paragon Solutions' Information Management Practice and has 15 years of records management and over 20 years of Life Sciences industry experience. For more information, visit or follow @consultparagon.

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