Boosting Enterprise Application Performance in Distributed Environments

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1 Boosting Enterprise Application Performance in Distributed Environments April 2012 Jim Rapoza ~ Underwritten, in Part, by ~

2 Boosting Enterprise Application Performance in Distributed Environments Modern businesses are often highly distributed in their makeup. Between their headquarters, acquired or merged companies, branch offices and other remote business locations, it is not uncommon for a company to be supporting workers at dozens of locations. But through the use of major enterprise application platforms that make it possible to access and share content and data, collaborate with colleagues, and access key applications and services, workers throughout these distributed companies are able to stay connected and productive. However, if these remote offices find these enterprise application platforms unreliable or if performance is poor, the cost in lost productivity can be high. Organizations that are able to ensure that core applications perform well and have high reliability across all of their business locations will be able to avoid the costs and frustrations that occur when workers can't satisfactorily use business critical applications. April 2012 Research Brief Aberdeen s Research Briefs provide a detailed exploration of a key finding from a primary research study, including key performance indicators, Bestin-Class insight, and vendor insight. The Challenge of Performance for Hybrid and Interconnected Enterprise Applications An excellent example of a business critical enterprise application platform is Microsoft SharePoint. Many businesses have adopted SharePoint as a platform to stay connected, collaborate, manage vital knowledge and content and help employees and partners find the information that they need. And these capabilities offer a good return on investment. According to research from the Aberdeen Group report Increasing Revenue with Social SharePoint Part I: Collaborative Strategies, top performing organizations using the SharePoint platform averaged a 26% increase in revenue. However, the flexible and far reaching capabilities and deployment options of SharePoint means that the platform can often utilize both internal and cloud based systems, connect to a wide variety of other applications and systems, and contain an ever growing amount of data. Making enterprise systems like SharePoint perform at their best can be a tough task that can be even more challenging when a business needs to deliver these enterprise applications to multiple offices and locations. Furthermore, the cost of downtime or unreliable performance for core applications such as SharePoint can be very high. Respondents to Aberdeen Group's 2011 Aberdeen Business Review put the cost of an hour of lost employee productivity due to application downtime at $100 to $150. Spread this out over 1,000 employees at locations across a business and that is a cost of up to $150,000. And this doesn't necessarily mean a full hour of downtime, it could, for example, include 10 cases where the application was unavailable for 10 minutes. This document is the result of primary research performed by Aberdeen Group. Aberdeen Group's methodologies provide for objective fact-based research and represent the best analysis available at the time of publication. Unless otherwise noted, the entire contents of this publication are copyrighted by Aberdeen Group, Inc. and may not be reproduced, distributed, archived, or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior written consent by Aberdeen Group, Inc.

3 Page 2 Figure 1: Top User Complaints Driving Performance Initiatives Source: Aberdeen Group, January 2012 Building the High Performance Network Needed for Modern Enterprise Applications In the Aberdeen Group's January 2012 report, Application Performance in Complex and Hybrid Environments, organizations identified as Best-in-Class achieved a high level of success in overall application performance, reliability and user satisfaction (see sidebar). But many of these organizations were also dealing with the challenge of deploying enterprise business applications to a large number of offices and locations. In the survey, Best-in-Class businesses had the highest number of remote offices, with 43% supporting 20 or more locations versus 25% of Industry Average organizations with more than 20 locations. And given the amount of valuable data and content that workers can create and share in a platform like SharePoint, it's no surprise that the number one pressure (at 53%) driving Best-in-Class companies to invest in performance and reliability technologies was the increasing volume and variety of data. So these businesses are faced with a large enterprise application platform that enables vital collaboration, access to key applications and services and the ability to store and manage content, documents and knowledge. And all of this content and information needs to be delivered to the many company offices reliably and fast enough that remote workers will want to take advantage of the system. Add to these pressures the many networking and application performance challenges that businesses face when trying to improve their network infrastructure. Based on initial findings collected in early April 2012 from the Aberdeen Group survey, The Changing Face of Network Performance, the top hurdles that organizations are facing when it comes to improving network and application performance include lacking the proper tools, lacking visibility into performance, and over-utilized networks and limited ability to grow those network resources (Figure 2). Defining the Best-in-Class Aberdeen s research study, Application Performance in Complex and Hybrid Environments, used three key performance criteria to distinguish the Best-in-Class (top 20% of aggregate performers) from the Industry Average (middle 50%) and the Laggard (bottom 30% ) organizations. Time to identify rootcauses of application problems Number of end user complaints about application performance Transaction completion rate

4 Page 3 Figure 2: Top Challenges to Improving Network and Application Performance Source: Aberdeen Group, April 2012 One key factor is the variety of ways that remote offices are connected to the company network. In many cases, there are multiple types of WAN connections to a location, which can include Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS), traditional corporate internet lines, broadband options such as cable and fiber, or even wireless internet. By aggregating these multiple links, businesses can optimize their network connections to remote locations and, through adaptive networking, take advantage of the multiple connections to provide additional reliability, redundancy and performance optimization. Figure 3: Network and Application Performance Systems Deployed at Multiple Locations Fast Facts 73% of organizations have seen an increase in total bandwidth capacity over the last year 43% of businesses have seen an increase in Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for networking solutions over last year 51% of companies expect to see an increase in their network performance budget in the next year Source: Aberdeen Group, January 2012

5 Page 4 Of course, corporate network communications is a two way street, especially in the case of highly collaborative platforms. And in two-way communications, it is vital to have solutions deployed at both ends of the connection in order to improve the reliability and performance of core applications. Through real-time and adaptive technologies, effectively implemented performance systems can improve and optimize critical network and application connections between offices on the fly, ensuring high levels of reliability and performance. Organizations that achieved Bestin-Class performance understand the importance of deploying network and application performance systems at their various offices and locations, with 60% of the Best-in-Class implementing these capabilities versus only 40% of Industry Average businesses and 37% of Laggards. Ensuring High Application Performance across All Business Locations In traditional network and WAN infrastructures, the old school practice is to try to address all performance and management issues centrally. And centralized performance products such as network optimization and monitoring products are valuable tools in the modern administrator's application performance improvement toolbox. But, businesses that work to address performance and reliability issues at multiple distributed locations are well positioned to achieve excellent performance and reliability for critical business applications. Figure 4: Achieving High Performance and Reliability Fast Facts 33% of businesses said that application downtime or sluggishness decreases employee productivity 48% of organizations use enterprise collaboration / social networking / portal platforms; 22% plan to Source: Aberdeen Group, January 2012 Every transaction that fails to complete leads to sluggish applications and even completely unavailable applications. As Figure 4 shows, 80% of Best-in- Class organizations were able to achieve a 90% or better transaction completion rate with 25% getting to the ultimate goal of 100% transaction completion (nearly three times that of Industry average businesses). By

6 Page 5 addressing performance and reliability issues across all the locations of their business, these top performing companies are able to ensure application reliability to all of their employees. And, in the process, reduce complaints and support calls to their help desk. Figure 5: Number of User Complaints about Application Performance Source: Aberdeen Group, January 2012 As shown in Figure 5, Best-in-Class organizations were able to greatly reduce the number of user complaints about application performance and reliability, with 46% of the Best-in-Class seeing at least a 10% reduction and 18% seeing a reduction in complaints of 30% or more, six-times the number of Industry Average businesses that were able to gain this level of complaint reduction. If Laggard organizations seem absent in Figure 5 that's because zero percent were able to achieve any level of reduction in user complaints about application performance. Since complaints about application performance often relate to application unavailability or poor usability, the reduction in complaints that the Best-in-Class achieved converts to improved productivity and increased value that these businesses are gaining from core applications such as SharePoint. Key Insights As companies expand and grow, business critical enterprise applications help the workers at these businesses stay connected and productive whether they are located in the corporate headquarters or in a branch office in another country. No business can afford to treat any of their employees as second class citizens and top performing organizations understand that they need to take the proper steps to ensure that the performance and reliability of their core business applications is at high levels across all company locations. For any distributed organization, the following takeaways should be considered carefully:

7 Page 6 The cost of downtime is substantial - for any size company. Regular unavailability or sluggishness of core applications can cost even a mid-size business serious money, with costs in lost worker productivity reaching six figures and higher (as noted earlier in this report using data from the Aberdeen Business Review). By utilizing technology solutions that can improve application performance at all company locations, Best-in-Class businesses can greatly reduce the number of complaints about application performance, leading to happier, more productive employees and reduced help desk costs. Businesses are continuously growing. Companies today have workers at many offices and locations, with 43% of Best-in-Class supporting more than 20 offices and 55% of all companies expecting to add locations by the end of Organizations need to take the proper steps and utilize available performance improvement technologies in order to ensure that these workers at all locations can stay connected. Core applications need to be the focus. Core enterprise applications provide important capabilities to help employees stay connected and access key information and services. Businesses need to focus on the performance of these applications in order to maintain high usability. Sixty-nine percent (69%) of Best-in-Class organizations focused performance improvement initiatives on social/collaborative/content portal applications such as SharePoint. Take advantage of all connections. Remote offices today connect to the company network in a variety of ways. Top performing businesses utilize the multiple types of internet and broadband connections coming into remote locations in order to build adaptive and real-time connections that provide high levels of reliability, redundancy and application performance. When network connections to remote offices and locations are high performing and optimized, workers can collaborate and be productive even when their offices are located in different parts of the world. But when these locations suffer from poor performance, remote workers can feel like they are very far away from headquarters. By focusing on technologies that enable performance improvements to all locations, businesses can keep all of their worldwide employees connected and productive. For more information on this or other research topics, please visit

8 Page 7 Application Performance in Complex and Hybrid Environments; January 2012 Growth of Video Strains Application and Network Performance; March 2012 Related Research Getting the Complete View into Application and Network Performance; January 2012 Social Technology in the SoMoClo Era; February 2012 Jim Rapoza, Senior Research Analyst For more than two decades, Aberdeen's research has been helping corporations worldwide become Best-in-Class. Having benchmarked the performance of more than 644,000 companies, Aberdeen is uniquely positioned to provide organizations with the facts that matter the facts that enable companies to get ahead and drive results. That's why our research is relied on by more than 2.5 million readers in over 40 countries, 90% of the Fortune 1,000, and 93% of the Technology 500. As a Harte-Hanks Company, Aberdeen s research provides insight and analysis to the Harte-Hanks community of local, regional, national and international marketing executives. Combined, we help our customers leverage the power of insight to deliver innovative multichannel marketing programs that drive business-changing results. For additional information, visit Aberdeen or call (617) , or to learn more about Harte-Hanks, call (800) or go to This document is the result of primary research performed by Aberdeen Group. Aberdeen Group's methodologies provide for objective fact-based research and represent the best analysis available at the time of publication. Unless otherwise noted, the entire contents of this publication are copyrighted by Aberdeen Group, Inc. and may not be reproduced, distributed, archived, or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior written consent by Aberdeen Group, Inc. (2012a)

9 Page 8 Featured Underwriters This research report was made possible, in part, with the financial support of our underwriters. These individuals and organizations share Aberdeen s vision of bringing fact based research to corporations worldwide at little or no cost. Underwriters have no editorial or research rights, and the facts and analysis of this report remain an exclusive production and product of Aberdeen Group. Solution providers recognized as underwriters were solicited after the fact and had no substantive influence on the direction of this report. Their sponsorship has made it possible for Aberdeen Group to make these findings available to readers at no charge. Talari Networks is pioneering the latest innovations in Enterprise Networking by aggregating multiple broadband links and continuously adapting to the quality of the network to enable true enterprise-class quality and reliability at an affordable cost. The Talari technology performs sub second path decisions on a per-packet basis, taking into account the collected data on the path, class of traffic and policies established by configuration settings to provide the highest network performance possible. Because we take mitigating actions on a per packet level, not flow level, we can actually alleviate latency, loss and jitter while dramatically improving quality and reliability of applications. For additional information on Talari Networks: Talari Networks 550 South Winchester Blvd, Suite 500 San Jose, CA Telephone:

10 Page 9 At Microsoft, we re committed to helping you innovate, compete, and grow. With solutions that span consumer and business technology and extend from the datacenter to the desktop to other devices and into the cloud, we offer you the flexibility to use the technology that s right for your business and that your people will want use. For additional information on Microsoft: Microsoft One Microsoft Way Redmond, WA Telephone:

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