Music distributor CD Baby is exploring the use of SaaS to gain security and satisfaction


To control the distribution of software in the SaaS mode, the British music distributor CD Baby implemented the SaaS management solution Torii.

Like most companies, UK-based CD Baby, which specializes in distributing music to various streaming platforms, relies on a large number of SaaS applications. Tom Beohm, CD Baby’s vice president of IT, has implemented a policy to optimize the management of these tools that goes far beyond just cost control.

Advertising At first, CD Baby sold CDs online. But today, the vendor has evolved into a music-as-a-service provider. CD Baby offers its services to 700,000 independent musicians and manages the distribution of more than 10 million titles through download platforms and streaming services such as Spotify. At the same time, its IT team is managing the transition from a software-as-a-service model. Since VP of IT Tom Beohm joined the company in 2010 as chief systems engineer, it’s not just the way CD Baby presents its products. During these 12 years, my function has evolved tremendously. I’ve seen two complete revolutions in our technology stack and infrastructure,” he says. The first of these revolutions involved the transition to virtual servers and centralized storage. It is now moving to a hybrid cloud model and further strengthening its storage infrastructure. Mr. Beohm’s team of nine IT professionals manages operations, engineering and database management for CD Baby’s nearly 200 employees. Support for SaaS applications, including the ongoing migration to a cloud-based ERP platform, is also part of his role.

SaaS costs are on the rise

CD Baby isn’t the only company consuming more software-as-a-service: While Gartner says it’s less optimistic about SaaS spending growth than it was in early 2022, the research firm still expects global SaaS spending to grow 16.8% to $195 billion waiting to arrive. 2023. However, there are some challenges behind this growth, as IT departments are not always managing or necessarily aware of the growing use of SaaS. Tom Beohm notes that I consider software-as-a-service to be the current form of shadow IT. A very sensitive phenomenon in terms of support services: we started receiving requests for help from our user community for “product X” and my help desk team had no idea what it was. We were inevitably warned about what it was, assures the vice president of IT. Some of these demands arose from the expansion of Downtown Music Holdings, CD Baby’s parent company: as the band grew, CD Baby employees worked with colleagues from other divisions and had to use SaaS tools. There are other things in our ecosystem that IT doesn’t know about, Tom Beohm explains.

To fill these gaps, either at his level or for users calling the help desk, VP IT first asked employees who knew they needed a particular tool to let the IT team know so he could facilitate its adoption. The results of this approach were mixed because it relied only on trust. We found we didn’t have the vision to make it work,” says Beohm. That’s why he set out to find a SaaS Management Platform (SMP) that could help him. Around the same time, his boss suggested something similar. “It’s very rare that resources and money are offered to IT, so I jumped at the chance,” Beohm continues. After considering a number of options, he proposed one to the rest of the leadership team, which they accepted.

AdvertisingApplication discovery

The 1st criterion for me was the ease of finding apps. The intangible part of the unknown that interested me the most was learning more about what we don’t see. In our SMP market research, Torii was the only product that filled this gap for our use case,” explains VP IT. Some SMPs collect data from an ERP system, looking at company paid services, IT department purchase orders, or marketing credit card spending, but Beohm allows employees to actually wanted to see what he was using.The feature that makes the difference is a cross-platform browser extension that can be installed on PC, Mac and multiple browsers and provides a complete view of what is being used in our environment, VP IT emphasizes.

Deployed through CD Baby’s mobile device management platform, the expansion needed some explaining. One of the first challenges faced by the user community was the following. They asked if we installed spyware, tracked their keystrokes or their productivity. This topic was very important to everyone, especially during the pandemic, notes Mr. Beohm. Torii provided documents to CD Baby employees about the collection of anonymous data about software used in a corporate environment only. I have also taken the time to answer individual questions. There were a few concerns at the start, but I think we were able to successfully address them, says the IT VP.

As soon as browser extensions are installed, they start generating data – and that’s where the real problem comes in. The question was less about the data collection and deployment process and more about what to do next. And now? , we were surprised to discover that several hundred programs were being used in our environment without our knowledge, says Tom Beohm. He relied on Torii’s workflow automation capabilities to manage this cascade of signals. Now, if someone is trying out a new tool, they can ask Torii to rate it, and then take further action until other users start trying it out. This has helped combat the proliferation of scenarios where the tool is only used once without wasting a lot of man-hours to evaluate things that really don’t need to be evaluated.

Be prepared to renew contracts

Other workflows automatically flag failed SaaS contracts, alert IT through a ticketing system, and app owners and executive sponsors through Slack. This feature allows us to change tools or properly negotiate the terms of the next contract renewal, explains CD Baby’s VP IT. If cutting costs isn’t Mr. Beohm’s primary goal, this is: When new hires come in, we provide them with a suite of in-house IT software. We used to just buy them like buying a new seat. Today, we can ask ourselves if we really need to buy these items or if services are just tools that we can reuse. We’ve been able to save thousands of dollars—more than $8,000 in Microsoft licenses alone—by not having to buy solutions because of this visibility into what solutions are available.

Security has also been improved. One of our teams used the tool seen by Torii, but we saw other people on other teams using it, says Mr Beohm. He advised the ownership team to consolidate the company’s vendor agreement to include all users: We were able to reduce complexity, provide more secure interactions with the SaaS service by emphasizing multi-factor authentication (MFA) and single sign-on (SSO) authentication, and empower users with IT management tools. allow to have.

Once a quarter, Tom Beohm relays information provided by Torii to other leaders and discusses who is using what and what to do about it. These changes worked well because they were data-driven, indicates CD Baby’s VP IT. It’s been really positive so far. Beohm encourages other CIOs to look at SaaS management platforms to learn what’s happening in their networks. “We’re not trying to be the SaaS police,” he insists, however, advising to be completely transparent with colleagues. Our goal is to contribute as much as possible to everyone’s success by using this tool to the benefit of the company from a security, usability, and cost perspective.

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