In Part 1 of this blog series, The Next Norm: Prepare to Work-from-Anywhere, we looked at the recent, explosive growth in work-from-home and the transition to the new norm, work-from-anywhere. In Part 2 of the series, Next Norm: Work-from-Anywhere Performance Management, we reviewed the critical need for Network Performance Management (NPM) and the top considerations for evaluating NPM solutions. In Part 3 of the series, we’re going to discuss the challenges and opportunities in ensuring fast, consistent application delivery to your work-from-anywhere teams.
The Goal: Ensuring fast, consistent application delivery to your work-from-anywhere teams
For years, enterprise IT buyers, and more recently LOB leaders, have been looking for the best communication and collaboration applications to keep their teams as productive as possible. The quest to find the best application available never seems to stop – or let up. The recent surge in work-from-home and the post-pandemic evolution to work-from-anywhere, have only increased this demand and hastened its immediacy. In fact, 74% of companies plan to permanently shift to more remote work even after the COVID-19 restrictions subside.[i] As a result, companies are increasingly looking to SaaS and cloud offerings to provide quick, cost-effective services to keep their teams productive, regardless of where they work.
Investing in collaboration tools that connect team members and business workflows are clearly a top priority as can be seen by the growth in popular services like Microsoft Office 365, which has grown to over 258M daily users and Microsoft Teams (for video collaboration) ballooning from 32M daily users to 75M active users daily since just March of 2020.
But, selecting the right applications isn’t always enough.
The Problem: Application delivery for remote working is still a challenge
While IT (and some LOB leaders) continue to introduce new communication and collaboration tools to the enterprise, 54% of HR leaders say poor technology and/or infrastructure for remote working is the biggest barrier to effective outcomes.[ii] Despite other advantages, the shift to SaaS and cloud hasn’t proven to be the panacea with 42% of enterprises reporting that at least half of their distributed/international workers suffer consistently poor experience of the SaaS apps they use to get their jobs done.[iii]
The Challenge: Unpredictable network performance
Although the ubiquity challenge of the network has been resolved and bandwidth is generally plentiful (albeit not always cheap, depending on location), the quality and consistency of network performance is every bit as challenging as it has been in the past.
With the rise of hybrid networks, SaaS, cloud, and on-prem/off-prem, the network has actually grown more complex, and in many cases, less reliable. Companies often experience network-related SaaS slowdowns on a regular basis – even for their most critical business applications. In fact, a full 72% of companies report that network performance is a key concern with Office365 [iv], impacting end-user experience and productivity directly.
And, the increase in remote work only adds additional challenges for IT teams trying to meet SLAs and deliver applications with high productivity value and the desired end-user experience. Remote users too often experience unacceptable performance due to consumer-grade Wi-Fi, bandwidth saturation and contention (oversubscribed connections from heavy usage of collaboration and enterprise applications), and disruptive latency when connecting back to corporate networks, the cloud, and SaaS applications. ESG’s recent study during the COVID-19 crisis revealed that 40% of remote workers in North America still struggle with subpar internet connectivity. [v]
Unfortunately, IT has limited control of the remote network. Connectivity to the data center or cloud must be optimized to account for unreliable, last-mile access over public Wi-Fi, cellular data networks, and home DSL/cable modems.
The Opportunity: Innovations in application acceleration can make a world of difference
Despite all the challenges, IT must ensure that users can reliably and securely access high-performing applications and tools. They need to find efficient ways to rapidly connect those users back to the corporate network and their apps. Fortunately, there are recent innovations in the market that do just that!
Riverbed Acceleration Services address the unpredictability and poor performance of business-critical applications. Riverbed Client Accelerator and SaaS Accelerator optimize application traffic for work-from-anywhere models, which leads to productivity benefits of an additional 7 hours/year per employee as shown in a recent ESG technical validation study. These solutions can be deployed quickly leading to rapid time to value and:
- Drastically reduce user traffic by up to 99% and extend optimization for staff working outside the office (on their laptops) to ensure they can be equally productive, regardless of location with byte-level de-duplication methods that work across all of your applications
- Optimize networks and deliver best performance (10X faster) for the most popular enterprise SaaS applications (Office 365, Salesforce, ServiceNow, etc.) to users anywhere
- Intelligently accelerate the TCP conversations across the WAN by prioritizing the way data is sent over distance
- Reduce the number of application round trips across the WAN, which directly applies to minimizing the impact of latency on application performance
There’s no doubt that work-from-anywhere will be the next norm. And, in order to ensure business resiliency and growth in the months and years ahead, IT teams need to consistently deliver performance and visibility across networks and applications regardless of how complex and distributed their IT environment. Riverbed offers solutions that can help you optimize remote user connectivity, accelerate business-critical application performance, and improve network resiliency and security. Learn more about our work-from-anywhere solutions.
[i] Gartner, COVID-19 Bulletin: Executive Pulse, 3 April 2020
[ii] Gartner, Coronavirus in Mind: Make Remote Work Successful, 5 March 2020
[iii] ESG, The Impact of Poor SaaS Performance on Globally Distributed Enterprises, March 2019
[iv] TechTarget, Office 365 Survey, February 2020
[v] ESG, The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Remote Work, 2020 IT Spending and Future Tech Strategies, May 2020