This is the sixth post in the SaaS Risk Reduction
Series. For a change, I am planning to highlight a problem faced by one of
the SaaS customers and explain how it could be done differently based on my
suggestions in this series. Zoli gave me a link to one of the threads in Joel on Software Forum. In the thread, a
frustrated SaaS user described his/her ordeal with Google Apps for Domains Free edition. Let me quote his story
I started using the free version Google Apps a little over a year ago for one
of our intranets. Luckily it was an intranet and not the main site! I guess it
wasn’t entirely luck. Management would never have let us use it on the main
site. Anway, we used the shared calendar, email for a certain group, Google docs
and a few other things.
For the most part things worked well. A few weeks ago it was time to renew
the domain, and as the admin I promptly paid it using Google checkout.
Shortly afterwords the domain expired on the day aniversary date and we were
All his attempts to solve the problem frustrated him to the core and he was
in a desperate situation
At this point, I’m ready to cry. What have I done to be stuck in this
Before I proceed with my post, lemme do a plug here. This is exactly the
reason why SaaS users should subscribe to Cloud Avenue and visit regularly to read our
posts. In fact, the basic premise behind the SaaS
Risk Reduction Series itself is to help users avoid situations like the one
Let us now see how this user could have avoided this scenario if he/she had
followed one of my first suggestions in this series. Don’t keep all eggs in one basket. In that post, I had argued
against using a single vendor for all your SaaS needs. Some users didn’t like
the idea because they thought keeping email with one vendor and calendar with
another is too much of a hassle. I do agree with them about the hassle but
paranoid ones are better served by spreading the apps/data with different
vendors. Anyhow, even if one didn’t want to spread different SaaS apps with
different vendors, they could use this principle in other things related to
their digital properties. In the above example, the user could have registered
the domain directly with a domain registrar instead of going through Google or
some other resellers. The domain is the identity of any business. It is very
important to identify a “friendly” registrar and, then, register the domain
through them. I would list the following as the characteristics of a friendly
- The registrar Informs the customer about the upcoming domain expiration well
ahead of time. For example, ev1servers.com (now, The Planet) informs you about
the upcoming domain expiration 90 days, 60 days, 30 days and 5 days in advance
- The registrar notifies the customer clearly that you have the right to renew
the domain for 40 days after the expiry of the domain, without any extra fees
other than the amount the customer would have paid for renewal.
- The registrar lets you renew easily even after the expiry date without even
having to contact their customer support.
These are some of the basic things one should take care before trusting a
registrar to hold your or your company’s digital identity.
Secondly, and most importantly, SaaS users, using their own domains, should
use a third party DNS provider like DNS Made Easy to manage their domain records. Thirdly, it is
important to use a secondary mail server (it could come handy in cases where
Google or some other mail provider goes down or locks up the email accounts for
some reason) from another vendor.
The user in the above case could have easily avoided all the troubles by
keeping all his eggs (in this case domain registration, dns management, saas
applications) in different baskets. Yes, it is a hassle compared to getting it
done with a few clicks, with a single vendor. Yes, there is a learning curve to
it. But, by following my suggestion, one could minimize the risks and have a
peace of mind in this increasingly distributed IT environment.