Fast Applications As A Driver Of Productivity

Fast Applications

Applications are now the centre of the business world. Organisations now rely on them to reach customers, build products, automate back-end business processes and perform nearly every task critical to business and productivity, so the responsiveness and availability of applications is crucial.

With productivity now being judged on a global stage, it’s clear that fast applications are more important than ever. Yet, 77 per cent of global organisations continue to focus on virtualisation and consolidation rather than the end-user experience and their productivity.

Although virtualisation and cloud technologies can save companies money and improve efficiency, they also make the task of managing applications more complicated, often causing performance to suffer as a result. However, it’s performance, not complexity, which leads to productivity improvements. So why then, is performance neglected?

One possible explanation points to IT’s fixation on cost-saving initiatives enabled by server virtualisation and consolidation. Other observers highlight the fact that 76 per cent of companies experience downtime during upgrades to their IT architecture, so why not skip the upgrade and leave well enough alone?

In all of this, experience shows that it pays to focus on the end-user experience by giving users faster applications. Given that 76 per cent of companies do experience downtime during upgrades, a lot of organisations are reluctant to change. The secret to achieving a happy balance is to use technologies that help IT transition to a high-performance and more cost effective infrastructure without a major redesign. There are four steps to get started:

1. Accelerate By Attacking Latency

Recently, Amazon calculated that a page-load slowdown of just one second could cost up to $1.6 billion in sales each year. It also found that half of mobile users abandon a page if it doesn’t load in 10 seconds, with three out of five not returning to the site. So it’s clear that end users have short attention spans.

In the enterprise, users are increasingly being separated from their data. The growth of telecommuting, the proliferation of branch offices and the move toward cloud mean that distance is becoming a problem. Indeed, most organisations suffer from latency somewhere—usually in the WAN, but also between services and within applications.

In order to address these issues, IT managers must adopt a holistic approach to improving end-user experience. Network optimisation can help mitigate the effects of distance. Placing applications in multiple geographies brings users closer to their data and also ensures high availability. Content acceleration reduces delivery time and includes device-specific optimizations, further enhancing end-user experience and productivity.

With a performance-optimised infrastructure in place, remote workers, for example, can access SharePoint documents up to 75 times faster from centralized SharePoint server farms, regardless of connect point or distance from the data centre.

2. Prioritise By Making Choices

Not all applications are created equal, and neither are your users. So a great way to speed up your applications is to prioritise them and your users when it comes to bandwidth distribution. Let’s look at an example: Recreational Facebook traffic may be hogging a large amount of bandwidth while productivity-enhancing applications like Salesforce suffer from slow load times.

Quality of service (QoS) features provide a way to identify and protect important network traffic and restrict applications that are undesirable on the network. QoS management ensures that bandwidth is appropriately prioritised at the individual application level and that users receive the bandwidth they require to accomplish business-critical work.

3. Scale & Expect The Unexpected

In business today the number of users trying to access applications can fluctuate and one main pain point for IT managers can be trying to predict this surge in demand. For example, users accessing their e-mail accounts at the beginning of the workday can cause a sudden surge in demand causing slow email response times and poor network performance overall.

As a result of this fast-moving landscape, it’s important that network traffic can be distributed across a pool of servers, selecting the most appropriate server for each individual request based on load-balancing policy, session-persistence considerations, node priorities and cache-optimisation hints.

4. Monitor For Accurate Troubleshooting

With all signs pointing towards the data deluge continuing, businesses need to be confident that they have access to all the information when striving to achieve a well-rounded picture of an application-performance problem. IT managers need to monitor response-time activity from the end user, network, and application-transaction perspectives.

More and more applications are moving from the data centre to the cloud and users are accessing them from any browser-based device, making it harder to monitor end-user experience. As a result, businesses need to look towards a trusted provider than can provide them with a modern, cloud ready end-to-end application and network performance management solution.

Application delivery should be at the heart of any strategy. Employees need access to applications from multiple locations to complete their job as productively as possible, while IT needs to be able to put applications anywhere without impacting the user experience. By making simple changes to the IT strategy and adopting a holistic approach to improving end-user experience, companies can be confident that business critical applications are available and responsive regardless of where and when they are being accessed.

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Brent joined Riverbed Technology early in 2012 following a career in IT & Communications spanning over 30 years. Over this time he has worked within a variety of technical and marketing roles within Blue Chip Service Provider organisations; as well as running his own communications business. Prior to joining Riverbed he held the role of Senior Product Manager at Virgin Media Business responsible for their Ethernet WAN services. Brent holds a Diploma in Marketing secured from the Chartered Institute of Marketing.