Companies of every shape, size and sector are going digital – adopting collaborative tools to change behaviour and boost productivity. But this operational change is putting pressure on enterprise networks, many of which are not flexible enough to cope with the strain.
If you are having network issues, the knock-on effect is that it’s going to have a detrimental impact on the end-user experience of your business applications, leading to a downturn in productivity. According to research by IDG, lost productivity is the most often cited result of poor application performance (73% of respondents in a recent survey). This was followed by lower customer satisfaction, limiting business success, lower employee morale and hobbling innovation.
Asked how it affects the IT organization, nearly half of respondents said it means dealing with more end-user complaints, while 43% report increased frustration levels and 39% said they have trouble completing their work on time. Nearly a quarter said it leads to decreased job satisfaction.
On top of this, application performance is often under-reported. According to research by ManageEngine, users only notify IT about application issues 60% of the time. Which means that the other 40% they are struggling along, frustrated and under-performing apps.
The network is the central nervous system that supports the adoption of new applications. IT departments that haven’t streamlined processes and developed their networks to support the latest collaboration tools – from unified communications and CRM to workflow management and IoT – are left firefighting. All of these tools depend on a fast, secure, stable and predictable network.
Cloud strategy requires a network strategy
With Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), enterprises can buy compute and storage resources in a pay-as-you-go model. At the same time, they can deploy applications and services faster by buying pre-configured platforms that run on third-party Platform as a Service (PaaS) solutions or purchase the application or service on demand via Software as a Service (SaaS). All these speed up deployments, lower costs, improve flexibility and increase productivity. But enterprises need to understand that an efficient, robust and reliable network to connect to the cloud is essential. If not properly thought out, the network can easily become a noose as cloud dramatically alters the role of the network, hardware and software.
Enterprises are increasingly relying on the Internet and cloud to deliver business critical data. Cloud-based services require much more bandwidth than using similar applications on company’s traditional local area network. Any delays or interruptions in connectivity reduces productivity and could mean loss of business.
Employees who rely on the ‘best effort’ public internet network, or are located far from the cloud data center, face growing frustration with buffering, jittering and delays due to the number of network steps involved and overall congestion levels.
Yet spend on enterprise application software is accelerating, and forecast to hit $201 billion in 2019, driven by digital transformation. By 2020, Gartner predicts that 60% of business users will be provisioned in whole or part with office system capabilities in the cloud.
Companies are already deploying a large number of tools that focus on usability and improve productivity. Products like Salesforce.com to improve customer relationship management, Box to make file sharing easier, web conferencing (such as WebEx) and project management tools (such as EPM live) and innovation management toolsets (such as Brightidea.com) are just a few. All of these apps are hosted in the cloud. But public networks are leaving a distributed workforce with mixed experiences of these applications, many disgruntled by poor quality video and VoIP. Connectivity jitters can also lead to bottlenecks on downloading, saving and opening cloud-based files, dashboards and data, which all have an impact on productivity.
According to ManageEngine research, trouble shooting is the number one problem when it comes to delivering applications by public cloud, followed by high support costs, intermittent problems and slow performance.
Despite current issues, the land grab amongst public cloud providers continues unabated. Heavyweights Google, AWS and Microsoft are all building more and more data centres globally or partnering with providers as part of their hyperscaling activity in a bid to improve service. Extensive regional coverage is key to cutting down on latency. The closer the provider can locate the compute power to users, the faster the whole set up works. But this is all down to location, location, location.
Cloud, as we know, isn’t just about synching and sharing documents, it is also full of services and apps that can help productivity. But if the end user doesn’t get the cloud experience they expected, it becomes totally unproductive.
The move to cloud is inevitable
As applications move into the cloud the management becomes more complex. Enterprises need to gear up their resources, and most importantly their network, to respond to dynamic and unpredictable changes in business.
Cloud in its flexibility and scalability provides all the answers in enabling enterprises to continually optimize performance according to growth, blowing the cobwebs of so called ‘productivity inertia’.
The ball and chain of cloud computing is that many enterprises fail to consider the underlying challenges of building a robust and secure network from the onset so end up stumbling over connectivity issues once the migration has been done.
More digitization means more data. The network should be an enabler, not a hurdle to productivity.
Find out how to accelerate your business with a new type of hybrid network.
Jan has been writing about technology for over 22 years for magazines and web sites including ComputerActive, IQ magazine and Signum. She has been a business correspondent on ComputerWorld in Sydney and covered the channel for Ziff-Davis in New York.