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4 Reasons Modern SaaS Apps Continue to Fail in Performance

By Alison Conigliaro Hubbard, Riverbed Technology

We have now seen a full shift away from old-style technologies toward modern cloud infrastructures and SaaS applications to drive their businesses.

Think about it. Distributed enterprise architectures and budgets used to be all about centralized datacenters and the applications they housed, and deploying the right networks optimized to make sure employees at sitting at their desks in branch offices could use those apps for their jobs. The idea of early WAN Optimization was about making sure bandwidth 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 datacenter.

But the enterprise has evolved dramatically since those times. In today's digital enterprise, customers have so many more choices available to offset the accumulating expense of managing and maintaining massive datacenter architectures at scale, and on-premises applications. Today's enterprise has multi-cloud environments deployed to address different workloads and has experienced a massive surge of SaaS applications that drive the same business functions previously served by traditional on-premises apps.

In addition, organizations have also evolved when it comes to how workforces operate, and how and when each employee accesses the apps they use. Workforces today are dynamic ones, accessing the SaaS apps they use to execute business throughout the day, and from different places from home offices and coffee shops, to airports and client sites.

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 that can hinder a company's ability to gain a competitive edge. One of the most significant of these challenges is around application performance. In fact, a recent ESG Enterprise SaaS Survey found 42% of enterprises reporting that at least half of distributed or international workers suffer consistently poor experience with the SaaS apps they use to get their jobs done.

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

Here are a few typical scenarios:

  1. Proximity. As you might expect, sometimes 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. But frequently there are places in the business that are more remote. Take a look at the global nature of a specific enterprise. Where are their offices and people located on a global scale?  Are there far away branch offices in remote locations where latency is going to be higher? This can cause performance slow-downs - and a less than productive user experience.
  2. Bandwidth. Of course adding to that, in some places in the world bandwidth is not so cheap, so the cloud traffic going through the available pipes slows down. How will 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 can be cause for alarm, since new pipes will need to be significantly beefed up to avoid application performance.
  3. Security and Compliance. Next, there are also a large percentage of enterprise companies these days who are backhauling SaaS traffic through a datacenter because of compliance 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. 
  4. Roaming and Remote Workforces. 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 are out of IT control. This makes predicting performance much more challenging. And this particular scenario is only growing in scope and intensity.


Of course, many enterprise companies work with a combination of these scenarios that impact SaaS performance - and therefore, workforce productivity. Ultimately, even a 5-minute slowdown per employee each day can lead to a very costly impact to a company's bottom line.

Solutions for Enterprise Companies

IT leaders will want to maintain that ease and scale they get from SaaS applications, but they may also want to make sure they are in the driver's seat to control how users are experiencing the apps that are taking such a significant role in digital business. They need to be armed with visibility on a global scale to users at any end point, and they need an easy way to proactively turn up and use solutions that accelerate the performance of applications anywhere a user may need to stay productive.

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 solutions that provide proactive acceleration for SaaS applications?


About the Author

Alison Conigliaro-Hubbard 

Alison Conigliaro-Hubbard is a Vice President for Riverbed Technology. She is responsible for worldwide Product Marketing for Cloud and Application Acceleration, and field enablement for the Riverbed Digital Networking Portfolio.

Conigliaro-Hubbard brings over twenty years of experience in infrastructure, networking, cloud and SaaS technologies, in enterprise sales, product marketing and has held global OEM channels leadership roles at Cisco Systems, Brocade, Autodesk and GreenButton, now part of Microsoft's Azure division. 

She is a graduate of the University of Miami with a Bachelor's in Broadcast Communications and Marketing, and actively involved in the national efforts of The Mission Continues, an organization dedicated to empowering the lives of Veterans in their communities.
Published Wednesday, August 14, 2019 7:30 AM by David Marshall
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