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Stop tearing your hair out over sluggish applications

October 20, 2015

Teddy Choi   

Associate Director of Product and Propositions Marketing

The frustration of a sluggish, unresponsive application – whether a CRM system, company intranet or spreadsheet application – is an all too familiar feeling to most people.

As enterprises use more and more hybrid IT, including cloud and mobile applications, this increasingly complex environment puts their Wide Area Network (WAN) under pressure to deliver a consistently positive experience to end users. Any dips in application performance will inevitably hit profitability, and ultimately the bottom line.

That is why we’re seeing a growing need for robust, agile global networks to address increasingly mobile and global enterprises’ application performance requirements. Continually upgrading network bandwidth is not the only solution to improving application performance, because the end-to-end performance of applications is not directly proportional to the level of bandwidth deployed.

To tackle this challenge, we’re working with our customers to find out what their specific application performance issues are, and help them tap into more intelligent network management techniques to maximise the bandwidth at their disposal.

In some cases problems are caused by the application environment. The culprit could be the servers, databases, or firewalls – the network isn’t always to blame. Enterprises without the necessary tools to monitor applications might not be able to find the root cause of performance problems. There are a number of possible reasons for this: a pipe may be flooded with non-critical applications, which negatively affects the performance of critical ones. For example, in a call centre company, the critical application is the CRM database. If other non-critical applications, such as in this instance YouTube, are occupying bandwidth and in turn slowing down the CRM system, the business could ground to a halt.

The network can also become congested if data is being replicated unnecessarily, with the same files being sent from one to many recipients and forwarded multiple times to others. This can unnecessarily slow down the network, preventing business critical applications from functioning properly.

Another potential cause of problems is the inability to switch between primary and secondary connections. Businesses route mission-critical applications using the primary connection, and the example of a CRM system in a call centre is once again a fitting way to illustrate this. If your CRM system is using the primary connection and this becomes congested by traffic from YouTube, it may suffer from slow performance due to network congestion. Therefore, you need to be able to re-route any traffic from your non-mission critical applications via your secondary connection, to free up bandwidth on the primary connection which your mission-critical application relies on for optimum performance.

The challenge is that what is a critical applications varies greatly across industries and even individual businesses, so there is no cookie cutter solution to the problem.

In global businesses with an increasingly mobile workforce, poor application performance can have a devastating effect on productivity, as employees struggle to access the data they need to get the job done. Sometimes, investing in a top end WAN set-up isn’t enough. Even the latest and greatest networks can suffer performance degradation over time, under pressure to support an expanding global business, with new workstations, mobile devices and entire offices putting the WAN under pressure.

Given the central role that the network plays in enabling growing businesses to expand into new markets more quickly and to tap into the latest cloud technologies to boost productivity, intelligent network management is becoming a must for businesses. They need to follow the three pillars of application performance management: discovery, fixing and monitoring. To succeed, this needs to be part of a holistic approach to IT management rather than a separate silo. Having the monitoring and analysis tools in place to provide actionable insights on network performance to inform decision making is crucial to the smooth-running of a global organisation.

The key to success is having the correct tools and expertise to manage the network bandwidth that all applications depend on more intelligently, instead of just adding bandwidth to satisfy increasing demand. This is comparable to effective team work and management. It’s about finding intelligent ways of working, motivating and managing your team to maximise performance and output, rather than simply adding team members every time you are under pressure.

Find out how we’re aiming to interconnect businesses to the cloud using Office 365