Today’s enterprise IT teams are juggling a whole range of technologies to support demanding end users. SaaS and web-based applications have taken hold at enterprises for everything from traditional productivity tasks to chat, VoIP and video streaming needs. The networks delivering these applications have gotten a lot more complicated, too. There’s no longer just the in-house LAN network with connected devices. IT has to manage and monitor the cloud and SaaS provider networks along with the WAN, MPLS and internet connections that tie together various data centers and offices.
Added to this, businesses are more distributed than ever, with users increasingly working at remote and branch offices or at home. A recent survey found that 83% of companies are increasing their number of WAN-connected sites. The distance between IT and the users they’re serving just keeps growing.
There’s a lot of pressure to give end users a good experience, too. The end users of today are generally pretty tech-savvy, and they’re used to fast load times and an app for every task. While applications today don’t usually have downtime like they used to, they do experience slowdowns. And when a SaaS application slows down, how can IT find the location of the problem? It could be an issue with the app itself, with the ISP or with the SaaS provider’s network.
Whatever the problem, the job of fixing it falls on IT, whether the application is on-premises or not. It’s not uncommon for IT to be stuck on the phone with a SaaS provider after getting a call from a frustrated user at a remote site. The old methods of troubleshooting remote issues don’t work anymore. Here are some ways IT can approach application and network troubleshooting for the modern era.
How IT Can Make Remote Location Troubleshooting Easier
1. Work those SLAs. Service-level agreements (SLAs) could be the most important paperwork that modern IT needs to understand. The SLA you have with a cloud, SaaS or network provider should guarantee availability, at minimum, and also provide other assurances for what you’ll get when there are problems. For example, the SLA might spell out whether you’ll get any credits for unexpected downtime or what kind of data backup the provider has in place. There may come a time when you need to prioritize one SLA over another, such as the SD-WAN vendor SLA vs. the WAN provider SLA.
2. Crunch the numbers. If you haven’t yet decided how to baseline and benchmark overall performance, do it now. You may choose metrics that can give some picture of end-user experience depending on the applications they’re using. Call center employees, for example, will need very low jitter and plenty of bandwidth and capacity for their VoIP or streaming video application. Some businesses track WAN spending as a baseline for their remote location networks. You may also consider measuring reduced helpdesk tickets over time as a gauge of better end-user experience.
3. Choose the right technology. There are a lot of options for IT teams to make their systems run well these days. Those include WAN optimization, SD-WAN tools and monitoring to see application performance and end-user experience. There are also lots of separate point products along the network path from application to user, including firewalls, load balancers and more. Researching purchases carefully will help in the long run, especially when you’re doing due diligence on a newer company or product. How products integrate is important, too, in this era of APIs.
Your company’s complex infrastructure will be unique to the needs of your business and users. Take care of your particular complexity with the right tools and information.