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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.

About 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.

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Cloud Expo - Cloud Looms Large on SYS-CON.TV


Cloud Expo 2013 East Opening Keynote by IBM
In this Cloud Expo Keynote, Danny Sabbah, CTO & General Manager, Next Generation Platform, will detail the critical architectural considerations and success factors organizations must internalize to successfully implement, optimize and innovate using next generation architectures.
Lisa Larson, Vice President of Enterprise Cloud Solutions of Rackspace Hosting Live From New York City
In the old world of IT, if you didn't have hardware capacity or the budget to buy more, your project was dead in the water. Budget constraints can leave some of the best, most creative and most ingenious innovations on the cutting room floor. It's a true dilemma for developers and innovators – why spend the time creating, when a project could be abandoned in a blink? That was the old world. In the new world of IT, developers rule. They have access to resources they can spin up instantly. A hybrid cloud ignites innovation and empowers developers to focus on what they need. A hybrid cloud blends the best of all worlds, public cloud, private cloud and dedicated servers to fit the needs of developers and offer the ideal environment for each app and workload without the constraints of a one-size-fits-all cloud.

Keynote: Driving Cloud Innovation: SSDs Change Cloud Storage Paradigm
Cloud is a transformational shift in computing that can have a powerful effect on enterprise IT when designed correctly and used to its full potential. Join Citrix in a discussion that centers on building, connecting and empowering users with cloud services and hear examples of how enterprises are solving real-world business challenges with an architecture and solution purpose-built for the cloud.

Go Beyond IaaS to Deliver "Anything As a Service"
Many organizations want to expand upon the IaaS foundation to deliver cloud services in all forms—software, mobility, infrastructure and IT. Understanding the strategy, planning process and tools for this transformation will help catalyze changes in the way the business operates and deliver real value. Join us to learn about the new ITaaS model and how to begin the transformation.


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Great exhibits, great audience, great floor traffic, great conversations with IT leaders and folks in the channel."
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The World's 30 Most influential Cloud Bloggers
Cloud Expo on Ulitzer
1
Dustin Amrhein 11 Kevin Hoffman 21 Greg O'Connor
2
Ezhil Babaraj 12 Alin Irimie 22 Maureen O'Gara
3
Tony Bishop 13 Kevin Jackson 23 Mark O'Neill
4
Reuven Cohen 14 Fuat Kircaali 24 Bill Roth
5
Ernest de Leon 15 David Linthicum 25 Ellen Rubin
6
David Dean 16 Lori MacVittie 26 John Savageau
7
Ray DePena 17 Bill McColl 27 Michael Sheehan
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Jeremy Geelan 20 Greg Ness 30 Alan Williamson

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Digital Transformation Blogs
We are seeing a major migration of enterprises applications to the cloud. As cloud and business use of real time applications accelerate, legacy networks are no longer able to architecturally support cloud adoption and deliver the performance and security required by highly distributed enterprises. These outdated solutions have become more costly and complicated to implement, install, manage, and maintain.SD-WAN offers unlimited capabilities for accessing the benefits of the cloud and Internet. SD-WAN helps enterprises to take advantage of the exploding landscape of cloud applications and serv...
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true change and transformation possible.
Containers and Kubernetes allow for code portability across on-premise VMs, bare metal, or multiple cloud provider environments. Yet, despite this portability promise, developers may include configuration and application definitions that constrain or even eliminate application portability. In this session we'll describe best practices for "configuration as code" in a Kubernetes environment. We will demonstrate how a properly constructed containerized app can be deployed to both Amazon and Azure using the Kublr platform, and how Kubernetes objects, such as persistent volumes, ingress rules, and...
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Cloud Expo 2012 Allstar Conference Faculty

S.F.S.
Dell

Singer
NRO

Pereyra
Oracle

Ryan
OpSource

Butte
PwC

Leone
Oracle

Riley
AWS

Varia
AWS

Lye
Oracle

O'Connor
AppZero

Crandell
RightScale

Nucci
Dell Boomi

Hillier
CiRBA

Morrison
Layer 7 Tech

Robbins
NYT

Schwarz
Oracle

What The Enterprise IT World Says About Cloud Expo
 
"We had extremely positive feedback from both customers and prospects that attended the show and saw live demos of NaviSite's enterprise cloud based services."
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Sr. Director, Marketing & Strategic Alliances
Navisite
 


 
"More and better leads than ever expected! I have 4-6 follow ups personally."
  –Richard Wellner
Chief Scientist
Univa UD
 


 
"Good crowd, good questions. The event looked very successful."
  –Simon Crosby
CTO
Citrix Systems
 


 
"It's the largest cloud computing conference I've ever seen."
  –David Linthicum
CTO
Brick Group