SaaS: To choose or not to choose
Resources are scarce when it comes to companies experiencing growing pains. “In such an environment [startups], you want to use your time and resources as efficiently as possible,” Pierre Di Lauro, Data Engineer at Curve and JAX DevOps speaker says. We caught up with him to talk about the build vs. buy dilemma, choosing SaaS and more.
JAXenter: Can you go over the build vs. buy dilemma that so many companies are facing?
Pierre Di Lauro: Given the large number of services available in the space, companies are often facing the question whether they should build or buy a data analytics solution. Given the large amount of SaaS solutions that are now populating the market, the cost and the ease of access, this seems to be an obvious choice.
Unfortunately though, after choosing a vendor without framing its specifics and reducing the logic offloaded, there is a high risk of getting locked-in and having to rebuild everything from scratch a few years later when the company grows and the requirement changes.
JAXenter: Why choose SaaS when open source software like Kafka or Luigi and Snowplow are readily available?
We constantly keep compliance in the back of our mind.
Pierre Di Lauro: Nowadays, startups are facing huge challenges around quick growth and development. In such an environment, you want to use your time and resources as efficiently as possible.
Building a reliable ETL or Data Streaming platform can take up to several months of development from multiple engineers and will require maintenance. These products are a means to an end. The end goal is to provide the right insights for the company to rely on when making important decisions.
Small companies need to focus on the end goal. SaaS like Mixpanel, Stitch, AWS Data Pipeline, AWS Glue and others will help you focus on the Data Warehousing, the business logic and delivering the right insights to help the business do the right choices.
As the company and its needs grow, you will have more time and resources to commit to the challenge of building your own pipelines.
JAXenter: What happens when you have to make sub-second decisions with sending data to a third party in a different continent? Or factor-in GDPR compliance?
Pierre Di Lauro: We constantly keep compliance in the back of our mind. Regulations become more and more present in this field and we always make sure we include this dimension in our engineering and design work.
JAXenter: Can you explain more about Curve’s “Never Go Back” motto?
Pierre Di Lauro: Always keep in mind the business point-of-view in our choices to make sure we will bring value to the business in the short-term and long-term.
When investing time in a project, always ask yourself: is this helping the business be where it needs to be two years from now? Keeping the long-term objective in mind helps you make sure the time spent is not lost.
JAXenter: What can attendees expect from your talk?
Pierre Di Lauro: The focus of the talk will be around the definition of a data strategy in a startup from an engineering point of view. How to enable a company to become “data driven”, while maintaining non-functional requirements in scope. The attendees will learn what tools are available in the market, what are the common issues with data when a company is growing and how we overcome them. We are also introducing our solution based on Snowplow, the open source event-based analytics platform that we’re running.
JAXenter: How can other companies make this decision for themselves?
Pierre Di Lauro: They should ask themselves some basic questions: Is the software critical to current operations or your plans for business growth? Is it core business? Or else, is it a core differentiator? Is there an existing, off-the-shelf solution that does the job well enough for now then you should probably go? What is the total cost of ownership over the lifecycle of the software?
The answers to those questions should balance one option over the other.
Pierre Di Lauro will be delivering one talk at JAX DevOps alongside Federico Fregosi, which will focus on the various options available for data infrastructure in a growing company while considering money and human resources. The two speakers will also introduce the “Not-Go-Back” practice at Curve.