Application Assurance for the Borderless Enterprise

Strategic Solutions Series

Application Assurance for the Borderless Enterprise

By Erik Linask, Group Editorial Director  |  December 14, 2015

During the course of the past decade, the corporate environment has evolved dramatically, with perhaps the greatest change influencing most every business being mobility. Driven by ubiquitous connectivity and an ever-growing selection of mobile hardware – including smartphones, tablets, laptops – mobility has changed not only the way businesses communicate, but the way they budget, hire, manage, and operate. It has created a new breed of business, the borderless enterprise, where traditional offices and desks, while still part of the physical environment, have given way to a work-anywhere philosophy, increasing productivity, responsiveness, and efficiency.

Cloud computing has been among the chief enablers of the borderless enterprise, allowing business to adopt new technology and application strategies – specifically, the SaaS (News - Alert) (Software-as-a-Service) model continues to proliferate corporate strategy conversations as a means of providing access to business applications and services and allowing employees – and entire businesses – to become more agile.

For users, the unencumbered flow of digital information is a welcome trend, enabling unheralded flexibility and new opportunities for business excellence. For IT departments, however, who have traditionally been asked to support applications solely in the corporate data center, the cloud brings new levels of complexity and uncertainty.

The traditional infrastructure centric approach, where all new services were planned by and deployed under tight control of IT, is being overrun by the multitude of applications being delivered in different cloud environments. Today, nine out of ten enterprises are using cloud-delivered services to some degree, and common wisdom suggests the outlying ten percent will soon join the masses that are already enjoying the benefits of the SaaS model.

With the promise of a more agile and less costly business model, and as an increasing number of business-critical applications are deployed in the cloud, the lack of traditional centralized management and visibility quickly evaporates, adding new risk as well. In fact, Frost & Sullivan (News - Alert) recently reported that 37 percent of enterprise technology spend is controlled by lines of business, not IT departments, compounding the complexity of managing a hybrid environment with the challenges of understanding what cloud-based services are being deployed across the enterprise.

The challenge with the increase in adoption of SaaS applications and services is they are hosted in the cloud, and do not run through corporate data centers. Because the business no longer owns the entire infrastructure that delivers its services, IT no longer has the visibility into performance and availability it has traditionally enjoyed. When applications show degrading service levels, the insight to troubleshoot and resolve problems no longer exists, as it did with an on-premises model. Exacerbating the challenge is the fact that most SLAs are built around availability, which is very different from assuring performance. Delivering 99.999 percent availability says nothing about how well an application is performing.

This places IT departments in a difficult position, as they remain the first call when a service isn’t performing to what users believe is the standard. Despite services being moved to the cloud, IT’s responsibility for assuring performance has not shifted similarly and, in fact, is in even greater demand today, since a lack of awareness often makes proactive troubleshooting impossible. So, how can IT respond to these inevitable issues when it has no control over the applications?

Visibility into the Cloud

Application monitoring has always been a critical IT function. If users aren’t able to effectively use their business applications, businesses can’t operator at full efficiency – or at all, in severe cases. Traditionally, IT staff would be able to monitor applications and, in many cases, troubleshoot problems even before users felt any negative impact. With a SaaS model, however, IT may be able to identify the source of the problem is not the corporate network and surmise the problem lies elsewhere – but that alone is an unacceptable response. The fact is the emergence of the borderless enterprise brings with the need for borderless IT – one that has visibility into the entire network of applications and services, whether they run in the data center or in the cloud, because, regardless of the deployment model or who uses the applications, accountability still resides with corporate IT.

Fluke Networks (News - Alert), now part of NETSCOUT following its acquisition in 2015, has built a reputation for delivering tools for monitoring and diagnosing applications running in the enterprise data center, including its TruView™ suite of tools, which enables complete visibility into on-premises enterprise applications.

Realizing the massive trend towards deploying cloud-based applications, and the requisite need for IT to have similar visibility into their behavior, the company now offers TruView™ Live. Designed specifically to provide enterprise IT departments the tools they need to support enterprise SaaS strategies, TruView Live enables visibility beyond the data center, into applications running on non-corporate-owned infrastructure.

Whether by using small physical pulses – or sensors – or a virtual model, as SaaS application itself, TruView Live allows IT to examine enterprise SaaS application performance on a variety of levels to troubleshoot issues. Performance can be monitored by application, by site, and by time – or any combination of the three – drilling down into specific application performance at any individual pulse, to pinpoint the source of the error – DNS, application, network, client, server, SSL, etc.  IT staff can also look into the route the data traveled to determine if specific hops in the network path are causing performance issues. There is also the option to leverage a series of existing global pulses, which are set up in Amazon’s cloud around the world, offering an outside-in look at application performance and adding another deployment option. But, perhaps the most critical element is the ability for IT to identify whether the problem lies within the enterprise or with the application provider.

Service providers are notorious for disregarding claims that poor performance is a result of application errors; rather, they often point to the network. TruView Live provides IT the data to support their claims, often identifying specific application errors or inconsistencies of which vendors were unaware. TruView Live data has, in fact, been used by active customers to pinpoint application errors, at which point vendors are much more inclined to investigate further. For instance, in today’s API-driven world, many providers use third-party plug-ins or tools to provide enhanced features, but they can have unintended and often unidentified integration issues. In one case, because a customer was able to provide the data, the vendor was able to identify a specific third-party tool that was causing delays experienced by users. Without the insight from TruView Live, discovery of such discrepancies would be delayed, if it happened at all.

Because businesses can deploy new cloud applications very rapidly, IT departments must be able to equally quickly integrate those applications into their monitoring capabilities. TruView Live is a very lightweight SaaS-based application, requiring only the smallest of POE appliances (about the size of a pack of gum) to be deployed in any location where IT needs to monitor applications – or with a virtual version that can be installed on any server or laptop, enabling IT staff to monitor applications from anywhere.

In addition to being easy to install, TruView Live makes it very easy to set up monitoring of new applications, either from existing pulses or new ones, by identifying the application or website to be monitored, the pulse(s) from which to collect data, frequency of testing, and the acceptable response threshold. New applications can be set up for testing in less than a minute. For specific applications, IT can even send instructions with a Windows installer that will allow anyone to monitor a specific application from a laptop wherever they are, without having to install TruView Live, adding additional flexibility and monitoring efficiency.

The flexibility and ease of use, along with the critical tools it provides IT staff for supporting SaaS business models, was a key factor in TruView Live being named a winner of Cloud Computing magazine’s 2015 Cloud Computing Excellence Awards.

Not only does the application deliver visibility where it is needed, the model makes it possible for businesses of any size to effectively monitor their cloud services. Even in cases where lines of business deploy cloud applications without IT involvement, the tool makes it easy for IT to monitor and troubleshoot the applications.

A cloud-based monitoring platform for the cloud, TruView Live turns traditional data center IT into borderless IT, allowing it to truly support the borderless enterprise.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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