Improve user experience by integrating network visibility and management

BrandPost By Felix Massoth
Mar 02, 2021
Digital Transformation

Visibility, optimization and acceleration u2014 the essential parts of a journey to SD-WAN

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Credit: iStock

A recent research by Riverbed[i] found that 70% of C-suite decision makers believe something as strategic as business innovation is driven by improved visibility into network and application performance.

One of the main challenges that IT teams are currently facing is that most enterprise WANs were never architected for cloud. Many organizations lack visibility of their network and application performance, and they’re not making best use of optimization and acceleration technologies. The IT teams struggle with multiple management tools, and as a result, IT operations are less efficient and more costly than they should be.

Yet it is possible to move to a more predictable and reliable network environment through proactive management. NTT Ltd.’s latest Global Network Insights Report found that managed networks reduce the number of business-critical incidents by 10.5% year-on-year, freeing up IT teams to focus on core business and digital transformation.

In our experience, to deliver the strategic agility their organization requires there are a number of critical areas on which IT and network managers should focus:

  1. Focus on user experience, especially for home workers

Home working is now the norm. Our 2020 Intelligent Workplace Report found that 54% of companies intend to stay with distributed workers vs. return to office life as normal.  While user experience may be fine at headquarters and branches, it may be challenging over home broadband or mobile connections.

Organizations must quickly acquire the ability to monitor user experience of corporate applications and collaboration services, and optimize the performance of a wide variety of connection types if they are to safeguard the productivity of remote workers.

  1. Manage network and application performance

As organizations increase their use of cloud-based apps and software-as-a-service (SaaS), it’s worrying to note that 42% of regular SaaS users consistently suffer poor performance[ii].

The first step in tackling this: get better visibility of the problem, which may lie in the application itself, the network, or the deployment platform. A single monitoring tool covering all domains is necessary to ensure adherence to QoS SLAs, accelerate MTTR, and gather data for root cause analysis.

  1. Increase efficiency and evolve to a more agile network

There’s a direct link between network efficiency and business value, whether it’s a videoconference freezing or a customer abandoning an eCommerce transaction. Network transformation isn’t something that happens overnight, so it’s not surprising that two-thirds of enterprises still backhaul SaaS traffic through their data centers[iii].

Moving towards an SD-WAN with a flexible mix of MPLS and Internet is the long-term solution, but in the meantime, enterprises should use a unified suite of overlay technologies to optimize and accelerate data transmission over their existing network.

If your network doesn’t have the right architecture for cloud, the ability to set up and flex connections automatically, or to re-route data optimally in real time, you need to move towards an agile SD-WAN.

  1. Drive user adoption and measure transformation progress

To boost user adoption of their digital services, organizations should focus on employee communication and training, and practise piloting, parallel running, and ‘floorwalker’ support. These should be complemented and informed by adoption data from an automated monitoring tool.

Unified network and application management tools can also be used to provide digital program managers with insight into the performance of digital initiatives, in turn allowing them to track achievement of business objectives, demonstrate ROI, and collate data to build future business cases.

  1. Assess your capabilities

NTT Ltd. and Riverbed have created a self-assessment tool where IT leaders can rate their organization’s current ability to deliver great user experience. Respondents receive an instant personalized report of where they stand and what to consider doing next.

[i] Rethink Possible: Visibility and Network Performance Report, Riverbed, 2018
[ii] ESG Research on behalf of Riverbed
[iii] ESG Research on behalf of Riverbed