In an earlier blog , we looked at an interesting fact: a year ago about 50%, and now 80% of the software applications we use at Riverbed run in the cloud, and this percentage will continue to rise. In reality, cloud or SaaS-based applications like Microsoft Office 365, Salesforce.com and WebEx have become the norm for modern companies, and the day is not far off when most businesses will run 100% of their applications in the cloud. In fact, my colleague Ben Haines, CIO of Box, is already operating at 100% SaaS.
Our growing dependence on cloud providers raises some serious questions and brings to bear a new set of challenges that didn’t exist just a few years ago when companies ran almost all their applications “on premise.” For example, what happens if one of your cloud providers goes out of business? Does it take your data and server capacity with it?
Other issues invariably crop up when you run a SaaS-intensive environment. For example, how many times have your users updated a browser (or OS) only to discover that your favorite SaaS app won’t work with the new versions? And having dozens of SaaS providers means you have dozens of individual business relationships to manage -- and dozens of different (and sometimes incompatible) architectural elements that you need to manage and troubleshoot.
In these non-centralized, multi-SaaS environments, problems with your “clouds” can pop up unexpectedly because of what I call “architectural collisions.” Issues can range from compatibility conflicts between your cloud service and existing systems, to data integration problems, or simply poor performance. Chances are these are issues that you had no way of anticipating when you made the initial decision to bring on a particular SaaS provider.
More often than not, problems like this show up at the user experience level, when a partner or business user experiences slowdowns or spotty connectivity. In less severe cases, workers waste time, productivity suffers and opportunities are lost. In the worst cases, architectural collisions can cripple a business – like when your systems are so slow that you can’t complete a customer transaction or book revenue internally or externally through a partner.
Typically the burden falls on IT organizations, like my own, to sort out all these issues. We spend time tracking down root causes and isolating problems. We also spend time cleaning, migrating and integrating data across multiple cloud and on-premise systems. That translates to real operational costs through resource loads and support calls.
Bad Clouds/Dealing with Bad Behavior
So what do you do “when clouds behave badly?” Part of the answer lies in the proper vetting of SaaS apps when you decide to bring a new cloud service into your ecosystem. Increasingly companies will need to create a “decision matrix” to help IT and business jointly decide which new SaaS applications can be brought into the company, and which are not compatible for user experience “mash ups.”
Another solution is for companies to start demanding greater visibility into their cloud service providers’ product and upgrade roadmaps. Too often cloud vendors push out collision-producing updates without consulting their customer base. That situation should change when more customers demand a seat at the table before SaaS providers decide to release new products and updates in their products and roadmaps.
Performance vs. Availability
Availability is the legacy metric…tablestakes. Performance is the new differentiator metric…compelling service guarantees. Ultimately, guaranteeing high performance should be part of every SaaS service level agreement. These SLAs should come with a clear statement about how you can achieve parity when your cloud providers fall short of specific performance targets. But how do you measure performance and who’s really responsible for any given slowdown or disconnect? It’s a world of many clouds and many interconnections.
For example, one SaaS provider told me about the company’s constant battles with customers over the cause of sluggish online performance. Whose network was to blame -- the customer’s or the SaaS provider’s? Or was it somebody in-between, like the telecom carrier? Network architects on all sides worked overtime tracking down the “culprit.” Not really the most efficient way to solve the problem! Murphy’s Law is always opportunistic and these things seem to occur at critical periods like Quarter End. IT lives Murphy’s Law.
Mean Time to Innocence
Missing in this situation were reliable technologies and methods for objectively tracking down and isolating the root cause of service bottlenecks and outages. To put it simply, visibility was lacking. This leads us to Riverbed’s amazing products and successful deployments, where exactly these kinds of problems have been solved…for ourselves as well. In all kinds of SaaS scenarios, Riverbed can narrow down the problem and speed issue resolution – see Riverbed products.
In fact, Riverbed products become an invaluable component of service level agreements, providing the visibility necessary for contracting parties to rapidly determine who’s responsible. In other words, the “mean time to innocence” is reduced drastically – and that leads to a faster “mean time to resolution.” This saves us all money and cloud headaches.
Here again, Riverbed’s products are ideally positioned to play a leading role in a burgeoning market – in this case, the proliferation of cloud applications in businesses worldwide. The fact that our products could also help Riverbed manage its own mix of cloud services only adds to our success story.
Thanks for reading!
With Riverbed FORCE just around the corner, I wanted to showcase some of the awesome opportunities to learn about the hottest trends in Application Delivery Controllers and the cutting edge solutions to optimize your application deployment initiatives.
Here are 5 excellent SteelApp undertakings to slip in to your agenda.
Riverbed FORCE is just a few weeks away, and with a large number of attendees from the prior OPNETWORK conference attending, I am excited to learn about the latest from SteelCentral! More specifically I am looking forward to learning about the latest in application and network performance management.
What should you expect from the SteelCentral team at FORCE?
1 – The technical sessions
If you’re solely interested in SteelCentral, well track 4 is for you. These sessions provide product deep dives and technical presentations. A sampling includes:
Riverbed FORCE is just a few weeks away, and with over 80 tech sessions and labs, exciting keynotes, our partner pavilion and free certifications – not to mention the exciting evening event at the new Levi’s Stadium - it’s not to be missed!
If you’re interested in Riverbed’s best-in-class optimization that accelerates performance of on-premise, cloud and SaaS applications across the hybrid enterprise - SteelHead is where you’ll want to focus.
The SteelHead team has pulled together a great session line-up where you’ll hear from Riverbed experts and partners as well as from Riverbed customers. These sessions include product deep dives, best practices, customer testimonials and updates on what's to come for SteelHead.
There is a common misconception between load balancers and application delivery controllers. So what’s the difference and what does your business you really need?
I quite like Motorsports and I have been asked about traffic lights when I’ve mentioned Traffic Management so let’s start there.
Riverbed FORCE, Riverbed’s user conference is coming up quickly. There are so many reasons to attend, but here we picked what we thought were the Top Ten reasons to join us.
10) Get Certified—for free!
Are you ready to test yourself? Now is your chance to become a Riverbed-Certified Solutions Associate (RCSA) and a Riverbed-Certified Solutions Professional (RCSP) at our on-site certification center during FORCE (up to $1,875 in value), all included as part of your registration!
9) Fun! I mean, professional networking.
Join us for networking activities and exciting evening events, including an electrifying party at Levi’s Stadium—the new home of the San Francisco 49ers. These networking activities are fun and informal, giving you time to interact with peers, technical experts, technology partners, and Riverbed leaders.
8) Discover Technology Solutions at the Riverbed-Ready Partner Pavilion
Meet the partners at the center of the Riverbed Application Performance Platform ecosystem in person. You’ll find more than 20 leading technology partners with technology and location-independent computing solutions for hybrid enterprises.
The Xamarin platform provides software developers tools for building mobile apps with a common code base for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone devices. By embracing Xamarin, mobile app developers can achieve platform independence throughout the software development lifecycle. The value proposition is clear and the popularity of the platform is skyrocketing with more than 750,000 developers worldwide. Excitement from this community culminates once a year at an event called Xamarin Evolve which is taking place this week in Atlanta. I've been following Xamarin Evolve closely, and one of the most exciting announcements to come out of the conference is a new performance monitoring capability called Xamarin Insights.
On October 5-9 our Riverbed team will demonstrate its IT performance leadership at the Gartner Symposium ITxpo 2014 at the Walt Disney Dolphin Hotel in Orlando, Florida. Gartner Symposium ITxpo is an impressive gathering of CIOs and senior IT executives. This year’s agenda offers 500+ analyst sessions, workshops, roundtables, and mastermind keynotes across five full days. We’re excited!
My colleagues and I are at JavaOne 2014 in San Francisco this week (see photo). There’s lots of excitement from new and established vendors in the application performance management (APM) space and we’re glad to be a part of it.
Monitoring application performance has never been a more critical component of business, with trends like Mobile, Big Data and Cloud. We have customers across many different verticals, but they all experience similar challenges. For IT organizations, application performance and availability are the most visible indicators of their success. This means all eyes are on application performance, and the expectation for availability is sky high.
Happy CloudtoberFEST, everyone! Never heard of CloudtoberFEST? CloudtoberFEST, is traditionally held from October 1-9, and is a time when we celebrate all things cloud, try out new cloud services, and give thanks for the ways the cloud helps improve our lives (not to be confused with Cloudsgiving, which occurs in the third week of November). As is traditional, I got you all a gift to get your CloudtoberFEST started out right: a free virtual SteelStore cloud-integrated storage appliance paired with 48TB of Amazon S3 storage. Sound too good to be true? The only catch is that you only have until the festival ends on October 9th to redeem it.
Riverbed delivers the most complete platform for Location-Independent Computing, turning location and distance into a competitive advantage. The Riverbed Application Performance Platform™ allows IT to have the flexibility to host applications and data in the most optimal locations while ensuring applications perform as expected, data is always available when needed, and performance issues are detected and fixed before end users notice. At more than $1 billion in annual revenue, Riverbed has 25,000+ customers, including 97% of both the Fortune 100 and the Forbes Global 100.