The promised land of modern IT is to be able to respond to any service request and to morph continuously to support desired business outcomes, even as they change day to day. While some organizations are still grappling with the basics, such as squeezing out more utilization from servers, many are moving toward that goal with greater automation and policy-based computing.
As virtualization becomes more prevalent we're seeing data center budgets shift from hardware to software. That software includes tools and solutions to visualize and control cloud-ready corporate networks. Put another way, IT organizations are raising the pillars of software-defined networking (SDN) and software-defined data center (SDDC).
Over the last few years, BYOD and the consumerization of IT have created empowered users who drive new levels of innovation and productivity. This new era has also resulted in a troubling unpredictability for IT departments. Power has shifted into the hands of IT users who bring their own devices to work and use the apps and services that they want, sometimes without the knowledge of IT.
At the same time, applications are now significantly more complex, with components distributed across multiple data centers and cloud services. What was once a nice, clean application stack of three distinct tiers (presentation layer, application server/middleware, and database) is now a rather messy mash-up of dynamically changing hardware and software configurations. And these are all connected and delivered via dozens of distinct networks (including mobile) at any given moment.
These three developments ―consumerization, application complexity, and network complexity―mean that IT no longer has much visibility nor control over the applications it’s supporting. This threatens agility, customer and partner relationships, and business productivity. In many cases, performance and user experience are not consistent for all scenarios.
Riverbed Technology commissioned a survey at the AWS re:Invent conference in Las Vegas from November 11-14, which asked 122 respondents about how their companies engage with Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). What I learned from the survey results is that cloud computing has matured to become a critical part of IT’s responsibilities. And that brings a whole host of collaboration, skills, and technology needs.
Since this survey was at AWS re:Invent, I think it’s fair to say that the audience is more cloud-friendly and cloud-experienced than the mainstream. In fact, 80% reported having deployed their first app to an IaaS cloud more than a year ago. But that only means that their experiences are an indication of things to come. Here are some of the key survey findings illustrating the maturity of IaaS cloud usage:
At the turkey or vegan-friendly table for Thanksgiving, we like choices—some like creamed onions and kale salad, others like stuffing in the turkey, others outside the turkey, some with cranberry jelly, others with cranberry chutney. There's flexibility and every family is different.
Just like Thanksgiving, modern IT staff have a bounty of choices to tailor our environments—a one-size-fits-all strategy typically does not work.
So some companies have open environments, others—like many financials—have tighter, regulatory requirements to restrict/limit access to things like FaceBook, YouTube, and Dropbox. Give thanks that we can do more now.
As an example, many remote and branch office firewalls typically allow access to popular social media sites like YouTube and Facebook for all employees. Some of the staff for marketing and product management initiatives use these sites for corporate promotions and view them as critical to their success. Others might be using them indiscriminately during business critical hours. However, end-user experience might not be as critical for these apps as for others.
The sooner you can figure out the cause of an application issue—that is, if it's the network, infrastructure or the app itself—the more value you can add to the business bottom line right away.
You need to know that your apps are ready to go when you are.
Oddly—as your apps are running—silence is an awesome monitoring tool. That means your apps and networks are in good shape. But how does the silence occur? You must have the tools in place to fix an issue before it becomes a problem.
“Converged infrastructure for your branch offices won’t be completely the same as converged infrastructure for your data center,” wrote Raj Mallempati in his recent Network World article, “What to look for in converged infrastructure for branch offices.”
Why would it? Your data center is full of machines with a few people and your branch office is full of people, ideally with as few machines as possible. This basic distinction has important consequences on the technology required in branch offices. Why? As Raj explained: “You can’t modernize your branch office without taking user performance experience into account.”
It’s tempting to just buy the same converged infrastructure units for your branches as you’re using in the data center. But in his article, Raj provides several capabilities that are critical for branch offices with smaller IT footprints and little to no IT personnel:
In today's application-centric world, end-user performance is the metric by which businesses evaluate the performance of their web applications. With users demanding Google-like page response times, it is increasingly important that you constantly monitor the performance and availability of your applications.
Achieving a holistic view of your critical applications requires the integration of multiple approaches and instrumentation across the application delivery chain. The two primary approaches currently in use for measuring end-user monitoring are:
Recently, a customer who is a network manager for a very large consumer-manufacturing brand told me, “I judge the success of a project by the silence that I hear from users.”
Silence in his world translates to happy users. No help desk calls, no firefighting, no application slowdowns, no finger pointing. Isn’t that what we all want? Sounds like nirvana to me.
But how do you get there and why is it necessary?
It’s no secret that today’s rapidly changing technology is stressing and stretching even the most the most efficient network operations teams. According to ESG Research, more than 40% of IT teams consider budgets, security, and performance the greatest among a long list of pressing challenges. (Download the white paper, “The Application Deluge and Visibility Imperative”.)
Think you have complete network and application visibility? Think again. No IT manager or operations team around has 100% insight. Blinds spots are everywhere. Maybe it doesn’t matter anyway if your focus is on managing and monitoring the applications that matter the most to your business. When nearly 50% of a network’s traffic is web-based and it all looks the same to the network, identifying your important applications and staying ahead of their performance problem is more difficult than ever. Now with new solutions from Riverbed, you can have the application visibility and control you need for your applications so you can allocate network and IT resources directly in line with your business’ priorities.
Riverbed. WAN optimization for your network: Application acceleration, WAN bandwidth optimization, and IT consolidation. Riverbed is the IT performance company. WAN optimization solutions from Riverbed liberate businesses from common IT constraints by increasing application performance, enabling consolidation, and providing enterprise-wide network and application visibility – all while eliminating the need to increase bandwidth, storage or servers. Thousands of companies trust Riverbed to deliver greater productivity and cost savings by making their IT infrastructure faster, less expensive and more responsive. Riverbed solutions are also available as managed services through select providers.