Can optimization improve the cloud user experience?

Cloud services are booming as many businesses choose them for the agility and flexibility they offer. But some users in multinational organizations experience poor application performance – particularly those far away from their cloud providers’ data center. This threatens to derail the success of enterprise cloud computing.

Cloud computing has come out of shadows to become a key part of enterprise IT strategy. Many IT departments are choosing software as a service (SaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS) instead of managing applications in their own data centers. According to a recent report even business units now accept that that central IT should play a central role in selecting and managing cloud services.

However, strategic adoption of cloud computing doesn’t necessarily equate to a high level of performance for all users in multinational corporations. Because cloud computing consolidates IT infrastructure further, it effectively reduces the number of data centers serving users. Therefore, a US multinational signing a global cloud contract might find that their users in Delhi are also served by a data center out of the US. This increased distance can severely impact user experience, particularly with chatty applications or large files.

Optimization holds the key to improving the performance. We look at seven reasons multinationals should deploy optimization technologies to boost cloud and other application performance, particularly for users in remote locations.

1. Meet user expectations.

Slow cloud applications are very frustrating for users who are used to high levels of consumer SaaS performance at home (or through shadow IT initiatives). However, IT departments for multinationals face a very different setup to home users, who typically are close to their cloud provider, and access services through a fast home broadband connection. Enterprises need to ensure adequate levels of performance for all types of users, located across the world, using many different types of network connections.

2. Overcome Internet design constraints.

To ensure robustness, cloud services are built on stable platforms, which means they can’t take advantage of the latest bleeding-edge protocols. This means that they need optimizing to get the best performance over the Internet and long distances. In addition, the size of files is increasing massively, which puts increasing strain on network capacity.

3. Improve business productivity.

Application performance has a direct impact on business productivity. Consider contact centers where script records loading slowly will make the interaction with callers much longer. The outcome is that enterprises will either have longer queues, which is bad for customer service, or have to hire more agents, which increases the cost.

4. Make the business case for cloud computing.

Without performance that is at the very least comparable to their current services, users will not make the switch to the cloud computing services selected and governed by IT. They will choose higher-performing shadow IT services or use their existing applications as long as is possible. If this happens, enterprises will find it hard to make the business case for switching to cloud services, and problems over security and compliance will continue.

5. Measure performance accurately.

The first step in improving performance of cloud applications is to have the technology in place to measure it. This is a quite different proposition from on-premise infrastructure, where the IT department has a measure of control, which allows them monitor performance and service levels. When moving to the Internet and software-as-a-service, they lose this ability, because the Internet is a best effort network. Optimization technology can help restore measurement to cloud services.

6. Reduce bandwidth demands.

Using optimization technologies such as caching can also reduce bandwidth demands on the network. This allows IT departments to control costs in locations where bandwidth is expensive, or free up the network for new applications. For example, this could be more video calling, which is supported (and encouraged) by the latest unified communications tools. Any performance problems that affects video is seen immediately and can create a very poor end-user experience.

7. Manage migration.

The challenge is therefore to manage the migration to cloud services and retain adequate performance for all users. And remember that it won’t always be the same group of users suffering poor performance at all time. It can depend on many different factors depending on the cloud service or time of day.

Read more about the challenges of cloud performance in the blogs. And find out how Orange accelerates SaaS performance with Riverbed in Business VPN Galerie.