After years of getting closer to it, IT departments have finally reached the ‘App Impasse.'
The writing was on the wall as soon as enterprises embraced shadow IT — employees taking preferred technology from their personal lives and deploying it in their workplaces — and turned it into institutionalized Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) policies.
There's now an enterprise application for seemingly every workplace function, from unified communications (Lync) and collaboration (SharePoint and Yammer) to project management (Basecamp and Trello) and chat (Slack and HipChat). And even if an enterprise IT department hasn't formally introduced these applications into its working environment, employees are bound to do it on their own.
And that's the catch-22. New applications rooted in SMAC (social, mobile, analytics and cloud) improve productivity, costs and flexibility for employees, yet they also complicate infrastructure for the IT department, making it more difficult for network and IT administrators to assess the performance of these critical apps and assure a high-quality end-user experience.
After all, business users are demanding. As InfoVista and our partner Videns IT Services found in a recent benchmark report, all but 6 percent of respondents to the study said that their end users demand higher app performance and availability — which shines a light on the importance of a reliable network infrastructure.
Yet, as the report also says, "Measuring and acting on user experiences is not yet a permanent component of IT governance, despite a definite need for it." Here are three ways IT can use information and communications technology (ICT) to improve application performance and enhance the end user experience:
1. Implement and Improve Visibility into App Performance
Visibility into application environments will only be as clear as ICT tools allow, and at the moment, most administrators simply don't have the right tools. The benchmark report found that half of respondents have no insight into application performance, meaning they have no idea how any one app may be affecting the greater network, nor how an app's performance impacts the user experience.
- Establish a Hybrid Environment with Dynamic WAN Selection
Administrators today manage complex, heterogeneous, hybrid WAN networks, comprising applications that connect to the network via MPLS connections and Internet VPN. To maximize application performance in hybrid environments, administrators require a dynamic WAN selection tool that allows them to unify application performance and optimize the usage of each available path, based on current data traffic and the criticality of the application.
- Rationalize Enterprise Applications
Another factor that complicates network management and could ultimately erode the end user experience are redundant or out-of-date applications. As the benchmark report found, "speed, proper running of the application(s) and availability" all contribute to a negative user experience and less productivity. The lesson for administrators? Rationalize applications, and remove that those aren't helping business users.
Clearing the App Impasse
The right applications — monitored and optimized by administrators — provide underlying support to a business, yet they lose all their value if they are unable to deliver on their promise to end users. It's a challenge for administrators to guarantee application and network performance, particularly in the face of declining budgets and increased network and infrastructure complexity, but if enterprises have sufficient visibility and control, the ‘App Impasse' can be overcome.
To learn more, download the full report, "ICT as Stage Director of End User Experience: Benchmark Report on Application & Network Management," conducted by InfoVista and Videns IT Services.