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Working the cloud: Ensuring app performance beyond the data centre era

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Wimpie van Rensburg, Country Manager Sub Saharan Africa, Riverbed Technology.

According to previous research by Gartner, 75% of enterprises expect to have hybrid cloud deployments by the end of 2017, with organisations typically using an average of 545 cloud services each.

With numbers such as these, it’s clear that the cloud is a standard for all businesses, large and small. In fact, many companies have opted to implement a hybrid cloud architectures, managing some resources in-house while others leverage cloud vendors.

Moving to a hybrid IT environment has a number of advantages – such as reduced costs and more IT agility. However, dealing with a wider variety of applications that run on different infrastructures and are spread across many locations also creates security and visibility issues. For the IT department, managing cloud applications and other services differs significantly from traditional on-premises services. How can organisations move to a hybrid cloud environment while maintaining control of their workloads and ensuring a high level of application performance?

If workloads aren’t available, secure and resilient, they can crush a business. Companies need to seamlessly interconnect between cloud solutions and negate the challenges of latency incurred by potentially long distances between data centres. This requires adopting new techniques in order to perform at optimal levels and keep customers satisfied. In the fast-paced business environment, with economic challenges and increased competition, organisations have to ensure they’re embracing the latest technology trends to stay ahead and that their technology is supporting their business objectives.

Here are three keys to measuring and improving application performance in the cloud:

1. Working around assumptions ensures resiliency

When organisations move applications to the cloud, they probably won’t know exactly where they are located. For example, they might be somewhere in the UK or Iceland. Some SaaS apps may also move data between multiple providers and data centres. This means companies can’t make assumptions about their applications’ availability and latency.

However, performance optimisation techniques designed specifically for SaaS applications can ensure a high-quality performance across locations and clouds, regardless of where a user might happen to be. Cloud providers can now help organisations work around assumptions to achieve high resiliency. For example, companies can situate message queues between elements in a workload, improving application availability and performance, while allowing workloads to process greater quantities of information.

2. Visibility opens the door to success

Moving workloads to the cloud allows organisations to be more agile, cut costs and improve customer experience. However, they must gain visibility into their applications if they wish to succeed. Companies can begin by experimenting with application performance management tools (APMs). Many offer full visibility into applications, along with detailed reporting and recommendations. APMs can also automate processes, so organisations can focus on high-value projects, as opposed to just babysitting applications.

With APMs, organisations won’t need to rely on network-based tools but will still have visibility into how their applications behave. One way they can do this is by injecting JavaScript into their applications, so the code will measure the browser’s traffic. When the browser renders a page, the JavaScript will track data such as the network round-trip time and transaction completion time. This data will be visible through the company’s central cloud deployment. They can use this information to gauge transaction performance, application behaviour and the end-user experience.

Once organisations understand where performance problems exist now or might exist in the future, they can implement optimisation techniques that provide a consistent and predictable user experience. After all, happy users are productive users.

3. Prepare for failure

Every organisation should assume that eventually, all of its applications will fail, whether they are located on-premises or in the cloud. As cloud infrastructure resides outside of the company – and beyond its control – a failure can feel catastrophic and especially frustrating. Nevertheless, companies can take steps to keep their applications resilient by designing backwards from potential points of failure in order to be prepared if something happens. Cloud providers may also let organisations build multiple workloads across different locations, which helps applications function during local outages.

While a hybrid enterprise promises savings by providing a less expensive physical footprint as well as more flexibility to get data and apps where they need to be more quickly, organisations – and IT in particular – are at risk of chasing blind spots in their application delivery. This does not have to be the case. New technologies that allow visibility and control from one performance management platform mean that even in the hybrid enterprise, with multiple locations housing different apps and data, everything can be stored securely, whatever its location.

5. Planning for the future

IT staff want to achieve cloud, branch, and end-to-end visibility. The right data helps them validate and measure everything that is important to their app delivery process and be proactive to issues that might affect their business bottom line. By delivering business-critical information at local speeds, IT can ensure data is delivered securely along with the ability to identify/repair any business-continuity problems that occur. Ultimately, this increases productivity and end-user experience to gain greater visibility and performance enhancement.

In a hybrid enterprise, by deploying a combination of agents and passive/active collection tools across the enterprise, the IT team can gain visibility of real-time actionable data that can be stored and shared, as well as end-user experience monitoring of apps from end-to-end. Once it has the right visibility and tools to improve end-user experience, an organisation can plan a future vision of where it wants to go.

By Wimpie van Rensburg, Country Manager Sub Saharan Africa, Riverbed Technology

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