Welcome!

Java IoT Authors: Zakia Bouachraoui, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz

Related Topics: Java IoT, Microservices Expo, @CloudExpo, @DevOpsSummit

Java IoT: Article

SaaS Performance | @CloudExpo @Catchpoint #DevOps #WebPerf #AI #SaaS

SaaS providers need better tools to manage performance, enabling them to get ahead of problems

Managing Performance for SaaS-Based Applications

Software as a service (SaaS), one of the earliest and most successful cloud services, has reached mainstream status. According to Cisco, by 2019 more than four-fifths (83 percent) of all data center traffic will be based in the cloud, up from 65 percent today. The majority of this traffic will be applications.

Businesses of all sizes are adopting a variety of SaaS-based services - everything from collaboration tools to mission-critical commerce-oriented applications. The rise in SaaS usage has many positive benefits, but one drawback is that as demand grows, SaaS providers are having a harder time ensuring a high-performing (fast, reliable) end-user experience - at the same time performance expectations are growing higher than ever.

SaaS Providers Struggle to Meet Modern Day User Performance Expectations
Websites and applications must be fast. People want to read an article as soon as it's clicked; shoppers will abandon their cart on an ecommerce site if the website is too slow; customers expect to be able to quickly make transactions - and the list goes on. According to Google's latest research (February 2017), as page load time increases from 1 second to 7 seconds, the likelihood of a visitor abandoning the page increases 113 percent. For SaaS companies to be successful, they need to adopt the same laser focus on the end-user experience that has fueled the rise of ecommerce and B2B applications.

Meeting these performance demands is proving to be a significant challenge. One recent survey of SaaS providers found more than half reported difficulties in delivering sufficient performance levels, while more than a quarter said their organizations had incurred financial penalties as a result of unmet service-level agreements. Twenty-one percent of respondents whose organizations had an unplanned service interruption said it resulted in the loss of a customer relationship. Among those SaaS providers suffering financial penalties, the average cost incurred was $359,000 - not including the time and effort spent finding and fixing the source of performance declines.

Why Is Ensuring Superior Performance So Difficult?
Ensuring strong performance levels is proving difficult for several reasons:

Infrastructure Build-Outs - As many SaaS providers expand into new geographies and support more businesses, they are adding infrastructure as well as partitioning more existing systems. According to the SaaS provider survey mentioned above, almost half of respondents noted they have at least doubled the number of systems supporting their workloads and applications over the past two years. While this helps them support more customers, there is a nasty side effect - greater complexity, which makes it harder to find and fix the source of performance problems when they do occur.

Users' Geographic Expansion - Heightening these performance challenges is the growth of end users in new geographies. Application performance tends to deteriorate based on distance from the SaaS provider's data center. This means as end users move further away, there are more variables standing between them and the data center which can degrade performance - networks, ISPs, even browsers. This makes it impossible for SaaS providers to gauge worldwide performance levels for a specific SaaS user, based solely on the experiences of end users in just one or two geographies.

To expand and improve geographic reach, many SaaS providers build out their infrastructure, which in turn adds more complexity. The net result is a vicious cycle that ultimately results in decreased visibility into infrastructure health and end-user application performance.

The Capricious Nature of the Internet - Full SaaS provider outages are rare, but when they do happen, they can be disastrous. The Amazon S3 outage on February 28 served as the latest example, causing widespread availability issues for thousands of websites, apps, and IoT devices.

There have been other instances recently - in February 2016, Office 365 went dark for wide swaths of Europe. In August 2015, a Google data center in Belgium was struck by successive lightning strikes, causing problems for numerous Google cloud infrastructure service users. Not even tech giants like Amazon, Microsoft, or Google are immune to acts of God or nature. Inevitable outages are not the fault of these providers - rather, the "ripple effect" is the result of the tendency for business users to concentrate too much work in the hands of a single provider.

More common than full-blown outages are instances of SaaS applications just not performing well. Even though many SaaS providers have monitoring systems in place, 54 percent report the primary way they find out about performance problems is through customer complaints.

Managing Performance Must Be a Shared Endeavor
SaaS providers need better tools to manage performance, enabling them to get ahead of problems before their customers' end users are affected. This is a fundamental shift from traditional application performance management (APM) to what Gartner refers to as digital experience management (DEM). DEM treats the end-user experience as the ultimate metric, and identifies how the myriad of underlying services, systems, and components influence it. This approach is consistent with a recent EMA survey in which more than three quarters of respondents prioritized the ability to troubleshoot and analyze root causes of application performance problems, down to the platform level.

As the number of performance-impacting variables increases, SaaS providers may find themselves drowning in data, but searching for insights. They need advanced analytics to make data more actionable by identifying the cause of performance issues, swiftly and accurately. Sometimes performance issues are within the SaaS provider's control (such as when a particular region or data center requires more capacity). Other times, the issue may not be directly within the IT team's control - for example, a slow ISP or CDN. Even with these external factors, the information is still useful because time spent unnecessarily "war-rooming" can be avoided.

Business users of SaaS services should also be contributing to the performance management effort. They should consistently measure their SaaS providers' response levels, as well as monitor and measure real end- user performance at the closest points of geographic proximity. This is the key to gaining the most realistic view of end-user performance levels around the world. Having this information can help SaaS users uphold provider SLAs, but perhaps, more important, identify performance problems in advance and quickly determine if the problem is with the cloud service provider, or another component or internal infrastructure element.

Finally, as the recent Amazon S3 example demonstrated, SaaS users should always have a redundancy plan in place for their critical applications. In essence, they need to architect for failure. This may require an investment of time and effort, but can make all the difference in keeping SaaS-based businesses running smoothly when faced with a completely unpredictable event.

Conclusion
The growth in SaaS reliance is not going away, and SaaS providers cannot afford setbacks. When the SaaS platform that employees spend 80% of their day on goes down, productivity, and therefore a company's bottom line, takes a hit.

SaaS providers will continue to struggle with rapid growth and increasing complexity as business users port more mission-critical applications to the cloud and end users demand increasingly higher levels of performance and productivity.

This situation has the potential to escalate unless SaaS providers address the issue head-on with new approaches that evolve APM to DEM. Business users must also do their part. Ultimately, this can translate to more proactive, productive performance management, with less finger pointing and war rooming and more accurate, decisive issue resolution.

More Stories By Mehdi Daoudi

Mehdi Daoudi is the co-founder and CEO of Catchpoint Systems, a premier provider of web performance testing and monitoring solutions. His team has expertise in designing, building, operating, scaling and monitoring highly transactional Internet services used by thousands of companies that impact the experience of millions of users.

Before Catchpoint Systems, Mehdi spent 10+ years at DoubleClick and Google, where he was responsible for Quality of Services, buying, building, deploying, and using monitoring solutions to keep an eye on an infrastructure that delivered billions of transactions daily.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


IoT & Smart Cities Stories
The challenges of aggregating data from consumer-oriented devices, such as wearable technologies and smart thermostats, are fairly well-understood. However, there are a new set of challenges for IoT devices that generate megabytes or gigabytes of data per second. Certainly, the infrastructure will have to change, as those volumes of data will likely overwhelm the available bandwidth for aggregating the data into a central repository. Ochandarena discusses a whole new way to think about your next...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that Big Data Federation to Exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO, colocated with DevOpsSUMMIT and DXWorldEXPO, November 12-13, 2018 in New York City. Big Data Federation, Inc. develops and applies artificial intelligence to predict financial and economic events that matter. The company uncovers patterns and precise drivers of performance and outcomes with the aid of machine-learning algorithms, big data, and fundamental analysis. Their products are deployed...
Dynatrace is an application performance management software company with products for the information technology departments and digital business owners of medium and large businesses. Building the Future of Monitoring with Artificial Intelligence. Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more busine...
All in Mobile is a place where we continually maximize their impact by fostering understanding, empathy, insights, creativity and joy. They believe that a truly useful and desirable mobile app doesn't need the brightest idea or the most advanced technology. A great product begins with understanding people. It's easy to think that customers will love your app, but can you justify it? They make sure your final app is something that users truly want and need. The only way to do this is by ...
CloudEXPO | DevOpsSUMMIT | DXWorldEXPO are the world's most influential, independent events where Cloud Computing was coined and where technology buyers and vendors meet to experience and discuss the big picture of Digital Transformation and all of the strategies, tactics, and tools they need to realize their goals. Sponsors of DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO benefit from unmatched branding, profile building and lead generation opportunities.
Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style - What You Can Learn. Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 25+ years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value. He has consulted with over 130 companies on innovating with new business models, product strategies and monetization. Chris has held management positions at HP and Symantec in addition to ...
Cell networks have the advantage of long-range communications, reaching an estimated 90% of the world. But cell networks such as 2G, 3G and LTE consume lots of power and were designed for connecting people. They are not optimized for low- or battery-powered devices or for IoT applications with infrequently transmitted data. Cell IoT modules that support narrow-band IoT and 4G cell networks will enable cell connectivity, device management, and app enablement for low-power wide-area network IoT. B...
The hierarchical architecture that distributes "compute" within the network specially at the edge can enable new services by harnessing emerging technologies. But Edge-Compute comes at increased cost that needs to be managed and potentially augmented by creative architecture solutions as there will always a catching-up with the capacity demands. Processing power in smartphones has enhanced YoY and there is increasingly spare compute capacity that can be potentially pooled. Uber has successfully ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things'). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing. IoT is not about the devices, its about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. This paper discusses the considerations when dealing with the...