Ensuring Communication Apps Perform as Networks Expand
October 02, 2019

Paul Davenport
AppNeta

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When comparing enterprises today to those of the past, the differences are vast, but a few key features stand out. For starters, operations are no longer tethered tightly to a main office, as the headquarters-centric model has been retired in favor of a more decentralized enterprise structure. Rather than focus the business around a single location, enterprises are now comprised of a web of remote offices and individuals, where network connectivity has broken down the geographic barriers that in the past limited the availability of talent and resources.

Key to the success of the decentralized enterprise model is a new generation of collaboration and communication tools. UCaaS (unified communications as a service) in particular now represents a $3.5 billion global market that is forecast to grow by almost 70 percent in the next three years, according to IDC. And with so much cash on the table, it's no wonder that so many applications are coming to market looking for their share of the spoils.

This is a double edged sword for enterprise IT and for business users in general. On the one hand, users have a bevy of solutions to choose from that may be tailored to the unique needs of the business. On the flip side, this has the potential to add to the litany of new apps that are flooding the network and competing for network capacity. This raises the prospect of shadow IT running amok, for instance, if teams aren't aligned on what solutions are best. As more solutions sap up network capacity, it inevitably has to come at the expense of performance in other key areas, which can result in headaches across the business.

It's increasingly challenging for enterprise IT to juggle the performance of the larger enterprise network and the approved UCaaS and SaaS solutions leveraging capacity when teams aren't even aware of all the apps leveraging their networks. This is only the beginning of the challenge, as enterprise IT teams struggle with a lack of visibility when it comes to diagnosing issues that aren't the fault of the network but of the SaaS and cloud provider without additional monitoring solutions. While modern IT may not own or control the tools used by their SaaS vendors, business users still turn to IT when their apps aren't meeting performance standards. Even if IT can't own remediation of the issue because it's the fault of a third-party vendor, they still need to pinpoint where and why an issue is taking place, and put the wheels in motion for remediation.

Where UCaaS and collaboration tools are concerned, specifically, how can enterprise IT teams do their best to assure performance?

1. Get a view of the scale and scope of the network's "app landscape"

Without visibility into all of the apps leveraging network capacity, enterprise IT may be unaware of potentially malicious applications on the network. But perhaps more importantly, they'll have their hands tied when it comes to seeing how non-critical apps are impacting important ones. For communication tools in particular, ensuring that these "business critical" applications are getting the share of network capacity that they require is essential.

2. Baseline network performance, and explore alternatives

Building on the first step, enterprise IT should look at this as an opportunity to see what's really working, and explore areas for improvement. If a team abandons Slack for a different messaging app, for instance, IT should evaluate if it was simply a matter of UX preference, or if it was actually a performance issue that IT could remedy. To that end, teams need to take a close look at the strength of the network in areas that may be ripe for weaknesses: Is network capacity at remote sites sufficient enough to support the needs identified in step one, as well as for new technology coming down the line?

3. Establish (and enforce!) use policies with newly gained visibility

Enterprise IT needs to use a combination of monitoring approaches — both passive approaches and active ones — that allow them to visualize the whole network and all of their apps. This doesn't necessarily mean dedicating manpower to policing users, but employing lightweight — that is, low overhead and easy to control — solutions that can deliver real-time insights that are easy to analyze and take action on.

Once armed with active and passive visibility across the enterprise network, enterprise IT can not only support their existing communication solutions but help prime the network for the inevitable avalanche of new tech to come.

Paul Davenport is Marketing Communications Manager at AppNeta
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