By Suaad Sait, Executive Vice President of Products and Markets at SolarWinds
Many of us are familiar with the term “Time is Money”. It is often a way of life for most business around the globe especially in a well-connected society. Typically, most expect the internet to function on high speed to meet this ideal, however, if something were to hinder the process – such as network failure or terrible internet connection – people end up being frustrated by their circumstances. This is because in today’s on-demand, constantly connected world, society has been conditioned to recite the mantra, slow is the new broke.
In a study conducted by SolarWinds, which pinpoints the impact of application (app) performance and availability on businesses, 37% of the respondents surveyed in Singapore said slow or unavailable applications result in significant financial loss (tens of thousands of dollars or more) for their companies annually. On top of this, 66% have experienced a job-critical app performance or availability issue with 25% claiming that it took one business day or more to resolve the problem.
Of this same group, almost all (94%) said application performance and availability affect their ability to do their job, with more than half (59%) saying it is absolutely critical. With these alarming numbers, it does not come as a surprise that this concept has manifested in the minds of many individuals towards technology, and it is more often than not, associated with applications. It is also crucial for Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to take steps toward dispelling this notion as 99% of all businesses in Singapore are SMEs. They employ seven out of every 10 workers, and contribute nearly half of national GDP.
Today, you’d be hard pressed to find a company that doesn’t rely on some form of app for nearly every business function; apps have become the lifeblood of our world – not just for large businesses, but for SMEs and beyond. In fact, apps impact people’s lives in ways never imagined just five to ten years ago. As a result, subpar app performance and downtime equates to lost productivity, reduced revenue and a lack of end user satisfaction. Poor visibility into converged infrastructures and outdated management of the application stack can truly make or break a business – and like it or not, the ultimate responsibility for application performance falls on the IT organization.
Evolution of the App-Centric Business.
It’s no secret that IT has traditionally functioned in silos. IT pros have disparately managed servers, storage and other infrastructure elements for decades. Over the last five years, however, a shift has occurred. The rapid development of mobile technology and BYO-everything have led to expectations of anywhere, anytime availability of apps over any number of devices. Just two years ago, Cisco predicted that by 2017 there will be five devices or connections for every Internet user.
To enable this, traditional capabilities like storage, compute and networking have been overlaid with cloud and virtualization technologies in heterogeneous environments. It isn’t uncommon today to see companies running a set of critical services on premise, another set of services on hosted infrastructure like RackSpace and yet additional services on public clouds like Amazon Web Services or Google Cloud Platform. Multiple vendors, platforms and environments converge and can make what used to be management of a simple application increasingly complex for the IT pro. When this complexity is added to an already stretched infrastructure, app performance can suffer.
So, how can IT pros meet the demands of an app-centric world? Today more than ever before, IT infrastructure has to work together to serve a united purpose. However, the traditional siloed IT management approach is insufficient to ensure top performance and high availability in today’s converged infrastructure. In fact, scenarios where the bottom up approach causes issues are quite common.
For example, consider a company that works with a SaaS vendor, and it experiences a services outage that lasts for hours. That equates to hours of downtime for the company’s business-critical apps. The vendor is of course working behind the scenes to remediate the issue, but each internal group is exploring the problem in its silo. Is it the network? Software? Storage? Where did the problem originate? More and more time passes before the problem is finally resolved, and it’s then up to the customer company to pick up the pieces.
So, as almost every business function has transitioned from manual to app-based, IT processes must also transition to an app-centric approach. Think of it this way: most businesses currently uses at least 10-20 apps to function; without the majority of these apps, business comes to a halt. If these apps are performing poorly or not performing at all, the overall business is critically affected. Delayed functionality is extremely detrimental, so a full top to bottom view of the app is crucial.
IT Management for the App-Centric Business.
IT pros have a tremendous opportunity to be the agent of this change in the app-centric world. The average adult attention span is now just eight seconds. IT pros cannot afford to waste time in identifying and remediating problems and being subject to vendors playing blame games. Today, IT pros can buy compute power with the click of a mouse and a credit card number; this kind of empowerment can be a driver for creating real change in an organization’s approach to IT management. IT pros can and should consider the following:
- Buy for performance, not just for economics. Cloud is often first and foremost an economic decision for organizations, but in the app-centric IT organization, performance is king. Don’t think about compute, storage and networking technology just in economic terms. Think about performance.
- Keep things simple.Identifying and fixing performance problems inside of an application can be a time suck, especially with increased complexity. The more partners involved, the longer it takes to troubleshoot problems. Try to consolidate as much of the infrastructure as possible under internal management and engage just one to two key partners for the rest.
- Own the stack.Take control of performance across the entire stack; too much reliance on partners’ monitoring capabilities means that performance is on their terms. Make sure complete visibility of the infrastructure is a key component of what a partner offers.
To sum up, application performance is king and monitoring that performance from top to bottom must become a priority for every business. Just as monitors provide the information and reporting within a doctor’s office or hospital that enable medical professionals to make the right diagnoses and provide appropriate care, IT pros need to have visibility into the entire application stack in order to solve issues quickly and proactively identify problems that could impact the end user experience and business bottom-lines.
Regardless of the improvements and its fair share of setbacks, technology is evolving. As for what is readily available to us now – such as the cloud – businesses, especially SMEs, need to be prepared to navigate the app-centric environment before they get left behind in the race. By taking the steps to break down traditional IT silos and understanding that the app is really the centre of the equation, IT professionals currently supporting a piece of the app stack pie can transition into the full app stack view to fully optimize performance in the IT and business environment.
Suaad H. Sait is Executive Vice President – Products & Markets of SolarWinds Inc. Suaad Sait brings more than 20 years of leadership experience in the technology industry to SolarWinds. Mr. Sait earned a Masters of Science from The William E. Simon Graduate School of Business at the University of Rochester and a B.S. in Electrical & Computer Engineering from the State University of New York at Buffalo.