Applications are a key part of your business processes and their performance impacts directly on your bottom line. But to improve application performance, it's no longer enough to simply improve a single element of the IT infrastructure, such as the server or the network, instead you need to look to optimize all components of the IT infrastructure together.
To help you understand how your IT infrastructure relates to your applications and business, we have developed an eight-step model will allow you to address network optimization end-to-end. At the heart of our approach is performance lifecycle management, which we believe is the key to successful network optimization deployments and faster payback.
Step 1: map business to IT initiatives
As our methodology is all about aligning IT to the business, this first step is crucial. You need to determine your business priorities around both existing and future applications and understand how they are being used. Questions to ask include:
- Does the application support rapid go-to-market service launches to improve competiveness?
- Does it allow you to expand into new markets? Such as helping a logistics company launch postal services?
- Does it transform internal business processes or foster collaboration between employees?
- Does it improve overall customer service quality?
Then you need to map your IT projects to these business priorities, which is another way of ensuring that the IT is aligned with the business needs. Although this is obviously very specific your business, typical key projects include:
- Increasing security;
- New application deployments, such as collaborative tools;
- Infrastructure consolidation, such as servers or even data centers;
- Disaster recovery initiatives;
- Resolving current application issues.
Step 2: Identify the organizational needs
Now that you have identified the relevant IT projects and how they relate to business priorities, you need to look at the impact of application performance on different parts of the business. This will help you identify where network optimization can help. It is important to keep the business priorities at the forefront of this project, because ultimately network optimization supports an infrastructure that supports an application that supports the business.
Areas of your organization that can benefit from network optimization include:
- Business application owner: improving application visibility;
- End-user: improving user experience;
- CEO: increase innovation and speed to market while reducing costs and maintaining quality;
- CIO: realizing cost benefits of consolidation without losing performance.
Step 3: Identify applications
The next step is to identify all the applications that you need to optimize and profile them based on the business and IT requirements. This is essentially a data gathering step but it needs to be linked to application priority and where and why they are being accessed. Information can gleaned from all sorts of sources including the helpdesk, to see what tickets are being raised.
Questions to answer include:
- What type are the applications: new or legacy?
- Who is using it and for what purpose?
- Is it a top 10 business application and what key business processes does it support?
- How many users and where are they based?
- Where are the servers based and what are the bandwidth and response time requirements?
- Are there any known performance issues?
Step 4: Identify key performance indicators (KPI)
Now that you have worked out the applications relationship to business processes, it's crucial that you establish KPIs that relate the benefits of network optimization directly to senior business and IT executives. Ultimately the KPIs will also help you calculate the ROI and show how the solution is paying off the investment in the solution.
Typically the KPIs are delivered in the form of a dashboard that relates to the business priorities determined in step 1. For example:
- Improve customer service: reduction in check in and checkout time in a hotel;
- Improve go-to-market time: deployment time of new releases reduced from 12 months to 6 months
- Employee collaboration: increased end-user access and usage of key corporate applications;
I'll post the second part of this blog post shortly where we look in more detail about how you should go about improving network infrastructure and application performance.
Jean is Head of Solution Consulting, Europe at Orange Business Services. She leads a team of professional services consultants based throughout Europe who consult and deliver unified comms-collaboration, APM, security and SDN/SD-WAN solutions for global multinational customers. Over the last two years, her team has been driving the SDN/SD-WAN journey transformation of Orange customers.