Unbundling the SaaS Black Box
Historically, software used to live on your desktop computer and was acquired via expensive licences that were quickly outdated. The early 2000s saw the start of something new: Software-as-a-Service. Software that could be consumed via your browser, rendering the notion of versions and updates obsolete.
At Forest, we think we’re seeing the start of a new kind of SaaS companies, that are able to close the gap between your application data and their cloud infrastructure. We’ve dubbed this new trend the Local SaaS, and are quite bullish it’ll catch on.
Regular SaaS came with two main limitations. First, they were up against on-premise solutions that had readily access to every piece of application data. That meant, when trying to onboard a bigger organization, a painful data migration plan and ensuing sync nightmare.
Conversely — and that’s the second main limitation — , if they took a greenfield approach and decided to start fresh, thus creating data in the cloud directly, those data would then have to be under a strict regimen concerning its access, place of storage, etc.
This model basically enforces a black box on sensitive data, which can only build frustrations when customers eventually decide to move away from their vendor’s solution.
On top of this, some parts of a business’ operation are less easily decoupled than others. Core application services such as monitoring, security or admin were the last ones standing in the way of this sweeping revolution.
Obviously, due to their need to sit as close to the application as possible, pulling off a move to the cloud was hard.
Regular SaaS enforce a black box on sensitive data, which can only build frustrations when customers eventually decide to move away from their vendor’s solution.
But, that’s all changed now with the advent of agents (proprietary or open source) that enable such architectures, effectively bringing SaaS companies to what had always escaped their grasp.
As avid SaaS consumers ourselves, we decided that Forest would not come with the same restrictions and embrace this last paradigm. It would have to provide value without keeping our customers’ data hostage.
That’s how we came up with the architecture behind Forest, keeping data safe and secure by having an agent installed onto the customer application that would automatically generate a REST API to be consumed by our own application.
Because the requests are all done from the client’s web browser, sensitive data never goes through our servers. For our customers, this means performances as good as on their own app and uncompromised security.
That’s what makes Local SaaS so powerful: the ability to have an agent that’s local to your application and closely tied into its processes, while at the same time leveraging the benefits of the cloud’s infrastructure. SaaS’ benefits are numerous and long proven, among others a software always up-to-date, no device restriction, and predictable costs. It can also help democratize the use of SaaS in bigger organizations where data privacy concerns are even more important.
We’re excited to see a growing number of successful companies integrate deeply into their customers’ application data and provide services such as monitoring (i.e. NewRelic, Datadog, LogicMonitor), fraud detection (i.e. Sqreen.io, DataDome), logging (i.e. Papertrail, Logmatic, Airbrake), and of course back-office with Forest. With Local SaaS, there’s no more excuse for building those services from scratch!