IT's Continued Challenge to Ensure Performance and Availability
September 08, 2014

Suaad Sait
SolarWinds

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While the application is now the heart of businesses of all sizes and its performance is the lifeblood of success, IT continues to struggle to ensure its performance and availability, according to a new survey by SolarWinds.

The proliferation of BYOD, cloud, SaaS and consumer technologies in the workplace have made the application the disruptive technology that will drive business IT into the coming decades. At the same time, the application delivery chain is becoming more complex to support as applications become more networked, virtualization drives IT infrastructure convergence and abstraction and end users become more mobile.

Applications affect nearly every aspect of our world. And not just business, but well beyond. Today, applications impact people’s lives in ways never imagined just five to ten years ago. The resulting importance of application performance and availability requires IT to expand beyond infrastructure-centric management to add app-centric management. Beginning now and increasingly so in the future, this will make or break businesses. Ultimately, IT will be held responsible for application performance, regardless of whether the application resides on premise or in the cloud. It’s no longer just about if an application working, it’s about that application working to end user expectations. These survey results should be a wakeup call for IT pros everywhere.

Fielded in June 2014, the survey yielded responses from 403 business application end users currently employed full time in an office environment—public and private sector small, mid-size and enterprise companies — in the US.

Survey Findings:

The Application is the Heart of Business and its Performance is the Lifeblood of Success

Applications, such as Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, NetSuite and others, are now at the core of nearly all business-critical functions and beyond. Major vendors such as Cisco have acknowledged this reality by architecting data center offerings to be app-centric. With this, application performance and availability have become more important than ever; productivity, end user satisfaction and revenue are all affected.

In fact, 93 percent of business end users who responded to the survey said application performance and availability affect their ability to do their job, with 62 percent saying it is absolutely critical. Furthermore, 67 percent said it has become more important over the past five years. In addition, approximately one in five said slow or unavailable applications result in significant financial loss (tens of thousands of dollars or more) for their companies annually.

Reliance on Applications is High - End User Expectations are Even Higher

The quality of the end user application experience is critical for success. End users expect applications to work and work well. When application performance or availability issues do arise, end users expect a quick response time to problem resolution from IT, down to just minutes in some cases. For example, 67 percent of respondents said they expect application performance or availability problems to be resolved within an hour of reporting them, with 35 percent expecting a resolution in a half hour or less.

IT Struggles to Ensure Application Performance and Availability

Despite the rise of applications as king of business infrastructure, applications and some form of management tools to support them have been in general business use for decades. However, the struggle for IT to ensure performance and availability of business-critical applications remains. To illustrate, 81 percent of respondents contacted their IT department in the past year due to an application performance or availability issue, with one-third having done so six times or more.

The complexity of the modern application stack (AppStack), or the application delivery chain comprised of the application and all the backend IT that supports it—software, middleware and extended infrastructure required for performance — adds to the challenge of identifying issues and the time required to resolve them.

For instance, 36 percent said they have waited a full business day or more for performance or availability problems with business-critical applications to be resolved, with 22 percent having waited several business days or more.

Suaad Sait is EVP Products and Markets at SolarWinds.

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