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Application Performance Optimization: Using KPIs to Counter Network Conformity

Application Performance Optimization: Using KPIs to Counter Network Conformity

In order to more fully utilize existing WAN bandwidth, a CIO has to ensure employees and customers have the ability to access the right application at the right time with the right performance level. In our prior post on Application Performance Optimization, we referenced Apple’s groundbreaking “1984” TV spot which introduced the Mac to the world. We mentioned it to highlight the conformity of thought IT leaders face when they have to pass more applications and cloud services through their business networks. That conformity centers around the belief that the only solution at their disposal to accomplish the objective is “buy more bandwidth.”

What “hammer throwing” alternatives do technology decision makers have today to smash through this “more bandwidth” is the answer mindset?

As previously mentioned, in order to break away from this “1984-style” conformist thinking, a CIO needs to have a solution that addresses three fundamental needs:

  1. A single source for complete visibility on what applications are running across their WAN, how they are utilizing available bandwidth, and how the applications are performing from a quality perspective.
  1. A tool to dynamically adjust network behavior and resources to meet fluctuating needs, conditions, and demand.
  1. The means to balance traffic between locations over two or more network access paths.

This is what empowering the CIO is all about: Having true visibility and control over how applications utilize their WANs to deliver the right service at the right time with the right service level.

Establishing KPIs for Application Performance

Achieving this level of visibility does not come without effort. It goes without saying an IT leader has to research the various solutions to understand which best meets their needs. It’s also very important to understand and quantify the performance KPI’s for your network traffic. KPI’s that should be considered include desired server response time, packet loss, jitter, and TCP retransmissions for each type of traffic.

What is the desirable performance for your voice traffic, critical business applications and email? These types of applications do not have the same KPI’s. Understanding what you want to measure and manage also helps you evaluate what solutions can provide the visibility and means to manage these KPI’s.

Another set of questions to work through includes determining what application flows are most critical to your business. It’s essential to know this as your network approaches peak usage, so you can determine what applications you want to have “priority” access to bandwidth at the expense of others.

You also need to be able to tell which applications you can limit, or even “zero out” access to bandwidth for, on a dynamic basis. Finally, it’s important to know if you can make changes to these rules on your own in order to adjust to seasonal or special event conditions, or if you have to go to your service provider.

For APO, 2016 Won’t Be Anything Like 1984

The good thing is, when it comes to wide area networks and application performance optimization, we have left the conformity of 1984 well behind. There are numerous ways to address the needs mentioned above that offer a cost effective approach to deliver the right service at the right time with the right service level. My suggestion is choose one that lets you factor in KPIs, performance objectives, and seasonal factors which will let you keep performance levels high, while keeping conformity to a minimum.

All of which is to say, as they suggest in Apple’s famed TV spot, when it comes to application performance optimization, 2016 is definitely not going to be anything like “1984.”

What do you think is in store for application performance in 2016? I’d welcome your thoughts on this topic. Feel free to let me know if you have any questions about our approach to APO, as well.

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About Dave Johnson

Dave Johnson
Dave Johnson has over 25 years’ experience providing IT infrastructure solutions for the enterprise. In his current role at EarthLink, he has overall Product Management responsibility for its Cloud Solutions portfolio. He has vast experience in public and private cloud infrastructure, network design, as well as traditional data center services. He holds an M.S. in Telecommunications from the University of Colorado and serves as an Adjunct Professor at Rochester Institute of Technology, where he teaches courses in computer networking technologies and LAN/MAN/WAN planning and design.