application performance: what's the promise?

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Application performance and WAN optimization have been part of IT’s vernacular since about 2008, yet it seems that people throw these terms around without a thorough explanation as to what exactly the technologies offer, or what to expect when implementing application performance on an enterprise network.

So I talked with Nicolas Drogou, our WAN optimization product manager, to get the scoop.

According to Nicolas, today’s network is no longer just a “pipe” in which data is sent and received. Rather, the network – and its associated IT infrastructure – is a bona fide asset that requires constant adaptation to whatever needs the business has at the time.

Not only is the day-to-day management becoming more important, but in an era of tight corporate budgets, CIOs have to justify their IT projects and ensure they’re fully aligned with business priorities.

What was once a mere technical asset is now expected to be a versatile smart infrastructure. With traffic levels increasing, including non-critical traffic like cyber Monday shopping excursions and YouTube coffee breaks, IT departments need to be able to control all traffic to ensure the most critical applications aren’t compromised.

what triggers a business to take the leap into application performance management?

There are multiple scenarios that might cause a business to focus on application performance management:

  • to make the most of their existing resources (do more with the same – or less – resources), whether those resources are IT or human
  • to improve the end-user experience, to ensure end-user productivity
  • to deploy new and potentially complex applications, such as SAP, ERP, SharePoint, Oracle or Exchange, more quickly
  • to overcome latency issues between headquarters and branch offices
  • to address performance issues following consolidation of IT in a data center

what should people expect with an optimization project?

The outcome of any project is to produce tangible and if possible rapid results where the ROI is easy to demonstrate. In addition, thanks to comprehensive visibility and reporting, the IT department is able to regain control of their network and the applications running on it. Calculating the ROI is very straightforward and can be easily demonstrated to managers who know nothing about IT or networks, but who relate to numbers.

Experience has shown customers are able to achieve an ROI of 6-10 months over a three-year contract. Likewise, customers have seen increased application performance by up to 90% in some cases.

With statistics on optimized throughputs, bandwidth optimization, data reduction and traffic analysis, the IT department can see what’s happening inside the infrastructure. They can further extend this logic to applications whose response times need to be closely monitored and measured. The faster an application responds to users’ queries, the more productive employees are.

how will performance management evolve in the next few years?

The growing demand for application performance is driving even more innovation in this area and creating opportunities with new capabilities such as application-aware network performance monitoring. This would cover the entire application delivery chain, from the network all the way up to the individual end-user transactions processed by an application; it would also monitor that chain end-to–end, with the ability to tweak it rapidly as needed.

This leads to a natural extension of more “traditional networking” where, on top of monitoring application response times and round trip delays, End User Experience (EUE) can be closely monitored. EUE is especially important in cloud-based environments that are becoming the norm for delivering applications to users.

The next level of application performance management will take the end–to-end network; application monitoring and visibility and apply those indicators to measuring business performance management. Rather than focusing on individual network components, business service management will translate IT events into their business consequences. For example, calculating the business impact of a faulty application response time that resulted in the loss of connected customers on an e-commerce application, itself resulting in a loss of revenues; in other words, this will monitor and measure the influence IT has on business growth (or decline).

Some businesses who have taken the leap to this next level of network management are Lloyd’s Register, Merck and Zumtobel. Our partners in the application performance management and network optimization area include Ipanema Technologies and Riverbed Technology. Riverbed acknowledged our fruitful partnership by granting Orange the distinction of Best Global Partner for 2011.

So, does this post help answer any questions you've had regarding application performance and WAN optimization?  What other questions have come up in your business when contemplating a WAN optimization project?

 

photo © U.P.images - Fotolia.com

Katie DeTitta

I've spent more than 17 years in global telecommunications, and was formerly responsible for international social media activities at Orange Business Services. I enjoy making technology accessible to non-techies and I'm a strong supporter of flexible working.