Closing the distance
Riverbed Technology’s Taj ElKhayat highlights the path towards tackling the growing cloud applications performance gap
Reports show businesses of all sizes are making the move to the cloud. As well as improving cost effectiveness, mobility and scalability, cloud applications make it easier for IT departments to maintain all the systems and applications housed within data centres.
However, Riverbed's Global Application Performance Survey 2015 shows that most organisations experience frustrating performance slowdowns with 98% of executives agreeing that enterprise application performance is critical to achieving optimal business performance.
Nonetheless, 89% say the poor performance of enterprise applications has negatively impacted their work on a weekly (58%), and even daily (36%) basis. As a result, a significant performance gap is created between the needs and expectations of the business and IT's ability to deliver. IT is then in the line of fire for hindering business productivity, leading to frustrated customers, low employee morale, damage to a brand's reputation and lost revenue. What is the cause the application performance gap and how can IT close it?
The ups and downs of app performance
Despite the frustrations caused by poor performance, businesses are migrating an increasing number of apps to the cloud. Nearly all (96%) of respondents use cloud-based enterprise applications in their work, and 84% say their company's use of cloud-based enterprise applications will increase over the next two years.
The reason for this is that when applications deliver the expected user experience, organisations see improvements in employee productivity, time savings, cost savings, and customer satisfaction, as well as faster delivery of products to market. Consequently, executives are willing to sacrifice a lot for applications to work at peak performance at all times.
However, consistently poor performance destroys these benefits. When an app is slow, crashes or is not available, the resulting productivity loss creates a domino effect that impacts the company's bottom line, including dissatisfied clients or customers, contract delays, missed critical deadlines, lost clients or customers and negative impact on brand.
The issue of poor visibility
Businesses are not only storing information in the cloud as well as on local systems - creating what are known as hybrid environments - but they are also enabling local and remote employees to access that data from an increasing number of connected devices, including smartphones, laptops and tablets.
As a result, monitoring the performance of all the applications and systems that run across hybrid networks has become more and more difficult, costly and time consuming for IT. Users expect anytime, anywhere access to applications, and expect performance levels to remain high. When this isn't so, users feel frustrated and confused. Worse still, most IT managers frequently feel ‘in the dark' about why their enterprise applications are running slowly.
Executives can then add to the problem by trying to work around it. It's increasingly common for employees to use unsupported apps when corporate apps run slowly or stop working altogether, thus adding to infrastructure complexity with more ‘shadow IT.'
Closing the gap
Better visibility by IT staff into application performance can help close the application performance gap, resulting in improved productivity, customer service, product quality, employee engagement and revenue.
But for this, IT needs end-to-end, real-time visibility across the entire network and all the applications running on it. This enables IT to quickly locate what is causing a performance delay and fix it before users experience a disruption to their work. To deliver superior application performance in today's hybrid environments, enterprises need a comprehensive solution that provides end-to-end application visibility, optimisation and control.
Organisations should also follow these four steps before migrating their applications to the cloud:
Understand performance constraints: Network and application performance monitoring solutions enable IT to quickly identify and address any potential performance limitations.
Optimise network constraints: Determine how to overcome potential bottlenecks such as distance, latency, loss and disconnections. These often are the largest performance constraint in today's cloud-centric global economy.
Identify inefficiencies: Not all apps are of equal importance, and therefore, not all require IT to allocate equal amounts of bandwidth. IT should determine whether it's over-provisioning (and wasting) bandwidth to non-critical applications, and eliminate them.
Implement a real-time performance dashboard: Implementing a real-time performance dashboard with advanced analytics enables IT to quickly detect and remedy issues.
As organisations migrate their on-premise applications to the cloud, and as user's expectations for optimal performance continue to grow, closing the application performance gap is taking centre stage. However, if IT cannot stay in control and move quickly to resolve application performance issues, the gap will remain open.
Providing a clear view of how all apps are performing, whether they are on-premise or in the cloud can ensure that IT stays on top of network blockages and identify data trends that can lead to a bigger disaster down the road.
Taj ElKhayat, regional vice President, MEA, Riverbed Technology.