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What if? What if? What if? How Software Escrow Takes the Uncertainty Out of SaaS

3 minute read

If you’re mapping out your organisation’s SaaS-led future, you’re probably after as much certainty as possible. After all, what happens if your Software-as-a-Service provider goes under?

In an ideal world, things would be a lot more certain; trains would run on time, we could plan our business strategies down to the smallest detail, and there’d be no nasty surprises waiting for us around the corner.

Unfortunately, that’s not the world we’re living in – it’s missing all the unpredictability we’ve come to expect.

For organisations relying on third-party SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) solutions, unpredictability is a common feeling. That’s because of the inherent risk in relying on software that relies on somebody else’s business continuity. What if you build too much of your business plan on the back of a SaaS product that isn’t available in six months’ time? What would you do if you lost access to your customers’ data? Is the disruption worth it?

Luckily, there are guarantees that make life a little more predictable – guarantees that can mean the difference between a mapped-out strategy, and an anxiety-filled future. In the world of SaaS, one such guarantee is keeping data in escrow.


What Does Software Escrow Mean?

Simply put, escrow is the act of giving a trusted third party an asset that is released to the rightful owners upon certain conditions. In the case of software escrow, the SaaS product’s source code – kept up to date and stored securely – is passed to a third party so that customers can still make use of the product if anything should happen to the supplier’s business continuity.

Although it sounds like a ‘break glass in case of emergency’ scenario, it’s important to understand that keeping a SaaS solution in escrow isn’t about anticipating that the worst will happen, but preparing for it regardless; the supplier doesn’t intend on failing, but there are safety nets in place if they do.

How Does Data Escrow Work?

Software escrow is a simple enough process that ensures the information needed to use the product in the future is constantly kept up to date while being stored in a secure location. Certain conditions being met will clear the way for customers to continue accessing the software.

Image of three blocks explaining escrow as a service. The first block shows an arrow moving from an office into the cloud. The second block features an arrow from the office into the cloud with a circular arrow in the cloud. The third block shows two different offices downloading from the cloud.

  1. A replicated cloud environment is uploaded by the software provider to 3rd party
  2. Software provider provides regular updates that are monitored by 3rd party security
  3. In the instance that software provider can’t fulfil agreement with client, the 3rd party will provide the client with all the necessary materials to recreate the cloud environment


Why Is Software Escrow Such a Good Idea?

Aside from the certainty it provides customers, keeping SaaS solutions in escrow has plenty to offer both parties.

For one, it addresses the growing reliance on the cloud. With 92% of organisations currently hosting at least some of their IT environment in the cloud, and 79% of companies experiencing at least one cloud data breach, there are important questions around how vulnerable we leave ourselves – and whether or not we can leverage a robust disaster recovery plan to get back on our feet quickly.

Elsewhere, the inclusion of a third-party securing a SaaS solution in escrow allows for disputes between vendors and customers to be more easily navigated, with alternative route to data made available. This – combined with the knowledge that the vendor has prepared for any complications – helps to build trust between both parties.

Finally, there’s the simple truth that software escrow provides greater comfort to the end user, who can now prepare for almost any eventuality – including if the developer was unable or unwilling to continue supporting and developing the software; end users have a greater deal of autonomy available to them.

How We’re Using Escrow-as-a-Service

We talk a lot about how important our partners are to us. That’s why we chose to partner with NCC Group, utilising their escrow-as-a-service offering to provide our partners with the option of holding data in escrow.

For partners opting into the service, the Surveil tool will remain secure and updated in NCC Group’s safekeeping. If anything should happen that prevents us from continuing Surveil’s development, those partners will be able to continue to access Surveil’s cost optimisation capabilities, undeterred.

Of course, we’re not planning on going anywhere – but we like having all possibilities accounted for, so that our partners can continue to be confident in their future with Surveil. Because hey, we can’t see the future, but we can definitely prepare for it, right?

If you’re an existing Surveil partner interested in learning more about NCC Group’s escrow-as-a-service offering, feel free to get in touch with your Partner Success Manager or Surveil Champion.

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