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In the Age of SaaS, Many Lessons Can be Leveraged from the Past

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With the recent announcement of the Riverbed SaaS Accelerator service SaaS Acceleratorit gives us pause to really consider where we have been, where we are today in a digital age that’s only just starting to rev its engine, and the opportunities we have together as you, our customers, shift away from old-style technologies toward modern cloud infrastructures and SaaS applications to drive your businesses.

Think about it: distributed enterprise architectures and budgets used to be all about centralized data centers and applications housed there. The idea of early WAN Optimization was about making sure BW costs for MPLS networks could remain manageable while also making sure far away branch workers could take advantage of apps that were managed and maintained in a central data center.

But enterprise IT has evolved dramatically since those times. In today’s digital enterprise, we have so many more choices available to offset the bottomless pit of expense required to manage and maintain massive data center architectures at scale, and on-premises applications. Today we have multi-cloud environments deployed to address different workloads. We’re also facing a massive insurgence of SaaS applications driving the same business functions that were previously dedicated to on-premises traditional apps.

We’ve also evolved when it comes to how our workforces execute their jobs, and how, where and when each employee accesses the apps they use. It used to be more about sitting at a desk, working in front of a computer screen and going home. Today’s employees are more available and dynamic, accessing SaaS apps in the office, and then opening their laptop to work from home, a coffee shop, an airport, or a client site on the other side of the world. I myself work from all of those places and a ferry in a given work day. No matter where we are, because of the advances in technology over the last several years, we’re expected to be available and responsive, from any device, anywhere we happen to be. Today’s digital business never slows down.

The potential benefits of SaaS applications are undeniable. For starters, they’re easy to deploy and scale, and the business no longer assumes the financial burden of owning and maintaining the hosting infrastructure. However, there are serious challenges.  One of the most significant of these challenges is around application performance.

42% of enterprises report that at least half of distributed or international workers suffer consistently poor experience of the SaaS apps they use to get their jobs done. (ESG Enterprise SaaS Survey, March 2019)

And when application performance suffers, the ability for an enterprise to stay ‘on its toes’—to be competitive, to be able to transact or quickly act on an opportunity, to build client relationships, to build pipeline—that ultimately suffers too.

So how does this tie back to the foundational principles that made WAN Optimization so critical 15 years ago? It’s absolutely connected, and not dissimilar.  It’s just evolved. And for those who understand those principles that made sure centralized applications could perform over distance, it can be opportunistic to apply those to the complexity we face as we rationalize cloud workloads and SaaS application performance today. For many—it can have direct ties to a company’s ability to get ahead.

Let’s look at the reasons why SaaS performance may suffer.

When exploring why SaaS performance may suffer, it helps to consider the various ways companies deliver SaaS apps to their employees—variability that can lead to wildly inconsistent user experiences.

Here are a few typical SaaS performance scenarios:

  1. As you might expect, sometimes our users have direct-to-net access and are doing their work from a branch or headquarters located very close to a cloud point of presence (pop). In those cases, most of the time, SaaS should run okay.
  2. Another example though, are places in our business that are more remote. What’s the global nature of your enterprise? Where are your offices located on a global scale? Are there far away branch offices in remote locations where latency is going to be higher? This is going to cause SaaS performance slow-downs—and a less than productive user experience.
  3. Adding on, in some places in the world bandwidth is not so cheap, so the cloud traffic going through the available pipes slows down. How will available bandwidth be impacted when applications such as those in Office 365 move from an on-premises environment to the cloud? Even in areas where bandwidth is relatively inexpensive, a change to SaaS at scale can be cause for alarm, since new pipes will need to be significantly beefed up for application performance.
  4. Next, there are still many enterprise companies these days that backhaul SaaS traffic through a data center because of the need to comply with a firm security posture—and while there may be a plan to evolve from this, it won’t happen overnight. Distance is distance and the speed of light doesn’t get any faster. Backhauling creates more distance and causes longer delays, and that greatly hinders performance.
  5. And last but not least, as suggested earlier, now we have dynamic and highly mobile workforces logging on and accessing SaaS applications from so many different places and networks as they move through their workdays, many of those places out of IT control. This makes predicting performance much more challenging. And this particular scenario is only growing in scope and intensity.

Covering You SaaS? Performance Varies.

Of course, many of us have a combination of these scenarios that impact SaaS performance—and therefore, workforce productivity.

So how do we get in front of this?

Well, we want you as IT leaders to be able to maintain that ease and scale that comes from SaaS, but we also want to make sure you’re in the driver’s seat. We want you to be able to control how your users are experiencing the apps that are taking such a significant role in advancing your digital business. So first, we want to arm you with visibility on a global scale to be able to understand user experience anywhere they might be, and we want to give you an easy way to proactively accelerate the performance of the SaaS applications they’re using  so that they can always stay productive.

If we understand the scenarios above, it’s actually not hard to do. Today Riverbed has leveraged its founding principles from accelerating old-school data center applications and eliminating costly bandwidth and latency restrictions and applied those principles to cloud workloads and SaaS applications. This has resulted in the world’s first, cloud-based SaaS Accelerator service that is easy to spin up in minutes and deploy anywhere.

Combined with Riverbed end-user experience monitoring (EUEM) technology, and its proven end point offerings for branch offices and laptops, you have the ability to incorporate a whole SaaS Performance Management system into your SaaS strategy. Today’s Riverbed has leveraged years of learning and foundational concepts about how to deliver performance over distance and has made it very easy for our customers in the age of SaaS. Now you can continue to experience the ease and scalability of SaaS, without the loss of control and questionable performance that all too often comes with it.

And in today’s fast-paced, dynamic and competitive world where seconds and minutes count and can make the difference in millions of dollars, reputation, client confidence, and more, why wouldn’t everyone want to take advantage of that?

Riverbed delivers a Whole SaaS Solution

Watch this video to learn more:

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