Sunday, 5th July 2020

From Beetle to Bugatti: Lift the bonnet to drive cloud success

By Paul Griffiths, Senior Director, Office of the CTO, Riverbed Technology.

Nothing quite compares to your first car. Many people will be familiar with that daily dread of the key going into the ignition, hoping today won’t be the day that you will be stuck on the driveway. You end up learning tricks to resolve the minor issues, replacing components where needed, and learning the mechanics as you go.

Why is this relevant to the cloud? Well, there are many similarities that can be drawn between owning your first car, and companies who are just getting to grips with their new cloud deployments.

For example, when you get in a car to head out for the day, you expect it to work. In the same way, when employees interact with cloud-based applications, they expect them to be operating quickly. When your car doesn’t start, you often have no idea why, and the same can be true with cloud-based applications. Moreover, whilst you can become proficient with implementing ad-hoc fixes to recurring issues with your cloud-based applications, this is not a sustainable way to operate as a business.

A different attitude and approach are needed. Businesses should not be satisfied with slow apps and quick fixes. There are a few key areas IT teams should be proactively addressing before they get stuck in traffic.

Traffic jam

With Riverbed’s Digital Performance Survey showing that 96% of today’s organisations use the cloud, and 81% have multi-cloud strategies, it is fair to say that cloud adoption is no longer an issue; cloud performance is. Enterprises can only track as much as 45% of their network traffic to public cloud apps and are beginning to run into issues.

This traffic has been driven by the increasing use of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) apps, as more apps have been migrated to the cloud. With businesses entering the second phase of this migration, a lot of these apps are either cloud native themselves or are architected for the cloud. They make broader use of containers, more portable, and are distributed across the cloud and the data centre.

The reliance on cloud technology and the increased use of highly distributed cloud apps can devastate application performance. Similar to the myriad of problems with an old car, there are more blind spots in the cloud, resulting in a lack of visibility, complicating performance management and troubleshooting.

Cloud network latency freezing app performance

Application containers that are distributing an abundance of data across the network don’t just impact performance, but also drive up cost. Without visibility into the orchestration layer, application issues are very difficult to spot. This will ultimately slow down these applications and impact the seamless experience that consumers and employees are now demanding.

The real victim here is end-user experience. Business end-users now expect a seamless experience, however our Digital Performance survey found that 40% of companies reported that users were more likely to notice problems first in a cloud environment. This leaves IT departments immediately on the back foot and could damage their reputation in the business.

So how can they address this? Companies can’t afford to rely on cloud vendors to solve these issues. Some organisations opt to extend their current on-premise point solutions to the cloud, however this will only address part of the overall cloud performance challenge. Even when completely managed in-house, these solutions give an incomplete, segmented picture of performance.

Instead, businesses need to explore options that help them manage all their cloud traffic, understand ongoing cloud conversations, and prevent cloud overprovisioning and unexpected costs.

Turn on the Sat-Nav

To effectively monitor cloud performance, you need an infrastructure that can give IT teams visibility across the network. Businesses need a toolset that monitors cloud network performance, deeply investigates performance issues, and creates transparency to help companies manage their cloud vendor relationships. With this, companies can then understand what resources they have in the cloud, reduce overall network latency and understand the end user’s experience. Once they have this data, IT teams are able to improve performance across their hybrid infrastructure and continue to build strategic relationships with their cloud vendors.

These organisations need to also extend their capabilities to better manage and monitor the orchestration layer. This is important to ensure businesses have fewer performance issues and drive increased user adoption. Most importantly, IT teams will then be able to deploy application enhancements easily in distributed cloud environments, ensuring that applications perform, and customers are satisfied.

Ultimately, cloud-based solutions are driving digital transformation across all industries, and business leaders can’t afford to implement quick fixes as they go. To succeed, it is vital for organisations to adopt a proactive approach to IT management and get full visibility over their infrastructure. Only then can they drive to a better digital future.

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