Navigating the future of hosted services
CardSmith, acquired by Blackboard in 2014, in many ways established the SaaS model for card systems and came ready made with a successful solution and client base.
“Blackboard has continued to make major investments in the platform, and frankly, great software is never ‘done,’” says Staples. “There have been natural synergies bringing the SaaS solution into the Blackboard Transact ecosystem, and we continue to integrate other systems, readers and more with the platform.”
According to Blackboard, the multi-tenant model continues to grow and transaction volumes have nearly doubled in the past three years while average transaction processing time has been cut in half.
Blackboard’s SaaS offering is a true multi-tenant solution, explains Staples. “We pioneered the model, feature the largest deployment, and have learned a great deal over many years from clients in order to enhance our service offerings,” he says. “We also place a strong emphasis on security and deliver PCI-Level 1 services.”
Blackboard’s SaaS is designed to scale to meet the needs of institutions small and large. “Once we centralize the technology, we provide a cadre of managed services – such as live cardholder support and merchant services – to help make the institution and its card program even more successful,” says Staples. “We also have more third-party applications that are certified to integrate with our SaaS solution than any other vendor.”
Campuses don’t have to go full tilt from right out of the gate, but can instead pick and choose what aspects of their systems should be moved to a SaaS model.
“The appetite for institutions adopting SaaS solutions is huge, but it’s not really an either/or scenario,” says Staples. “Some parts of a system can be kept on premise and other parts SaaS. In fact, a large portion of our on-premise clients runs SaaS-based components of their systems.”
We are seeing clients move parts of their system to the cloud even if they haven’t moved the transaction host, explains Staples. “For example, clients are moving to hosted versions of point-of-sale systems, online cardholder account management, etc.”
“In general it seems to be a mix of on and off premise that best meets needs,” says Falldien. “The business benefits of SaaS typically outweigh having servers on premise, however there is still a lot of resistance from people who rely on managing those systems for job security.”
An independent consultant, Falldien always recommends looking at how SaaS can assist the campus as a whole. “I’m a fan of hosting systems and servers in a dedicated off-premise environment and taking full advantage of today’s virtualization options.”