App Performance a Challenge in Hybrid IT Environments: Riverbed Survey

Cloud computing brings its share of benefits and complexities, driving the need for greater visibility into app performance for executives and IT.

app visibility

Ensuring application performance is becoming challenging at a time when enterprises increasingly are adopting cloud computing and hybrid IT infrastructures, according to a recent survey by Riverbed Technology.

The survey results, released Dec. 7, found that 98 percent of the 900 business executives who responded said that optimal enterprise application performance is important to their companies being successful. However, 89 percent said that poor performance by enterprise applications has hurt their work, and 58 percent said it negatively impacts their work on a weekly basis.

Furthermore, there appears to be a disconnect between the business executives and IT teams. Seventy-one percent of the business executives surveyed said they often feel they have no idea why their applications are running slowly, and outside of the Americas region, it's even worse. In Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), 76 percent of executives have been unsure why there were problems, while that number hit 75 percent in Asia.

The key for such enterprises is ensuring that IT and executives have a clear line of sight into how all of their applications are performing, especially at a time when the workforce is becoming increasingly mobile and applications can be running in the cloud or inside the corporate firewalls, according to Riverbed Chairman and CEO Jerry Kennelly.

"The results of the survey reflect what we're hearing every day from IT leaders who are looking to deliver superior application performance in the midst of rapidly evolving, highly complex and hybrid IT environments," Kennelly said in a statement. "With apps, data and end users everywhere today, companies need end-to-end application visibility, optimization, and control everywhere as well to close the performance gap."

Riverbed over the years has expanded from its origins as a WAN optimization technology vendor to one focusing on application performance infrastructure. In recent months, the company, known for its SteelHead WAN optimization and SteelCentral application visibility products, has broadened its efforts to include software-defined WANs (SD-WANs).

The survey, conducted by Wakefield Research for Riverbed, included 900 executives at companies that have $500 million or more in revenue. What the survey found was that trends like cloud computing, mobility and hybrid IT infrastructures offer significant benefits to customers and employees alike, but they add complexity and challenges when trying to ensure applications perform at their best.

Executives are further frustrated when they don't know why the apps are slow, and at times their workarounds can make things worse, according to the survey.

The top benefits to optimal application performance include time and cost savings, improved employee productivity and customer satisfaction, and faster delivery of products to the market. The impacts of poor performance include contract delays, missed deadlines, lost customers and damaged employee morale.

It's so important that 33 percent of executives said they would give up a full lunch break to have better performing apps. Other sacrifices would include their program budget, caffeine and chocolate. However, these same executives also can increase the problem of poor app performance in a number of ways. Thirty-seven percent of executives said they have used unsupported apps when their corporate software is performing poorly, adding to the persistent problem of "shadow IT." Other reactions include complaining to colleagues, taking an extended lunch break, using the slow apps as an excuse for missing a deadline and leaving work early.

The cloud brings its share of good news and bad news to the equation, according to Riverbed officials. Ninety-six percent of respondents said they use cloud-based enterprise applications in their work, and 84 percent say they expect their company's use of cloud-based apps will grow over the next two years. The benefits range from increased flexibility and productivity to cost savings, improved agility and better collaboration.

However, the hybrid IT infrastructures needed for the use of both cloud and on-premises applications increase complexity and make it difficult to get the visibility into the applications that is needed, Riverbed officials found. Eighty-three percent of executives said troubleshooting app performance is more difficult in hybrid environments.