Dataquest recently interacted with Bjorn Englhardt, Senior Vice President, Asia Pacific & Japan at Riverbed Technology to discuss the importance of Application Performance in today’s fast-paced business environment. Englhardt shared insights putting in perspective the findings of a global survey on the application performance and their impact. Excerpts:
Can you share some insights on how poor application performance is impacting Indian businesses?
This is particularly relevant in the Indian context as businesses are accelerating their focus on customer experience and Digital India is becoming a reality. With apps, data and users literally everywhere, the work of optimizing and delivering great app performance has gotten much tougher for IT organizations.
To support the customer experience push, the industry is going through a rapid transformation as businesses continue to migrate apps and data to the cloud, build-out software-defined networks, drive optimization to the edge, and embark on digital transformation projects.
In our recent Global survey on Application Performance, 81% of Indian executives surveyed said the poor performance of enterprise applications has negatively impacted their work. 71% said it impacts their work at least weekly. This performance gap is causing a series of problems for Indian companies, from lost revenue and customers to lower morale to negative impact on brand image.
How is India different from global markets in terms of driving superior application performance?
The survey found that most companies universally agree that application performance is critical to business performance. What’s interesting to note, is that 100% of Indian respondents expressed that apps were critical to business – slightly higher than the global average of 98%. This is a reflection of the fact that India has made a swift departure from a “close enough is good enough” mindset and that businesses are facing increased pressure to drive superior app performance and business engagement. Global pressures have influenced this shift, but so has intense competition in the local marketplace.
You can take the retail industry in India as one example. Traditional brick and mortar retailers are revamping their customer engagement model as competition from e- and m-Commerce sites like Flipkart and Myntra heat up. The new competition – multi-billion dollar companies who’ve placed their bets on an app-only strategy – combined with accelerating customer demand for the more personalized, higher-touch shopping experience that mobile delivers, has created rapid awareness for the criticality of app performance in the Indian retail market for sure.
How can the application performance be enhanced? What are the best practices?
Start with the user experience of the application and then only by understanding fully the components that impact this experience can you solve the challenge. We engage with many companies that are juggling multiple point solutions from multiple vendors that together only address a small part of the overall application performance picture. It’s a recipe for disconnected operations, confusion and loss of business performance. In order to deliver superior application performance in today’s hybrid environments, enterprises need a comprehensive, integrated solution that provides end-to-end visibility, optimization and control:
Visibility: You need visibility into areas where issues may occur— end-user devices, network, code, and infrastructure—in order to identify and diagnose problems quickly and minimize downtime. This will help IT teams actively monitor and alert on meaningful changes in performance so that one can head off potential problems.
Optimization: Based on the insights gleaned from visibility, accelerate delivery of any app regardless of distance, and steer apps over the best network for maximum performance and lowest TCO.
Control: Finally, in order to manage the complexities of the hybrid environment, you need to be able to take control. With the right tools, predetermined performance thresholds can be set centrally so that critical traffic is given priority over less important information flows and the appropriate network path is selected. This can also be automated, which means that any potential application outages can be fixed before end-users even notice a problem.
What are Riverbed’s plans to expand business in India, specifically in 2016?
India is a market that is ripe with opportunity for Riverbed. Previously we discussed the change in user expectations on application experience and this has led us to continue our investment in India. Our investment will be in terms of direct resources, new partner relationships and product offerings.
We recently hired Nagendra Venkaswamy, a seasoned executive, to build a growth strategy for India and expand and execution capabilities through our own team and with the help of our partners. To support that we have also expanded our resourcing on our systems integrator partners and service providers aligning to how Indian customers have told us they want to consume our offerings.
Through partnerships with key India partners such as Airtel, Hughes, Dimension Data and Wipro we are jointly creating new value added services that help customers easily solve their application performance needs.
Additionally, our offerings need to align to customers’ needs and with the increased dependence on cloud and SaaS applications – which are often accessed via traditional internet connections – our solutions are designed to augment the user experience regardless of application source, connection used or location of the user.
Finally, our recent acquisition of Ocedo, a leading provider of software-defined networking and SD-WAN solutions, will help us expand and accelerate Riverbed’s delivery of best-in-class SD-WAN solutions to our customers. We plan to launch an initial SD-WAN solution in Q1 2016 to complement and expand the Riverbed Application Performance Platform, and India will be a key focus for that rollout.
Are you planning to increase your workforce in India? Please specify some focus areas.
We’re in the midst of an exciting time in India, as more and more Indian organizations embark on Digital Transformation projects, go hybrid and move to software-defined networks and datacenters. They’re looking for new approaches to solve the challenges of network and application complexity. This is where we’re most relevant and confident about the growth of our business in the country.
We’ll continue to make strategic investments to support the business growth in 2016. This year, we are ramping up our sales team in India and focusing on new routes to market. Our R&D centre in India, with its highly skilled workforce, contributes significantly to the overall Riverbed global business. The centre is a strategic choice for growth and our plan is to grow the R&D team by three-fold in 2016.
Can you specify some trends in 2016 that will drive a significant impact in the IT landscape of India?
Agility will continue to grow in importance during 2016 as enterprises sought better ways of delivering applications and data to meet business demands, enable employees to work however, and wherever, they want and focus on driving superior customer experience. The drive for the current government on public sector inclusion projections within the financial industry is yet another example of the need and importance of business agility. Transition, which already began in 2015 will continue to be the theme for 2016 in which many organisations will shake off the shackles of legacy architectures in the pursuit of greater agility, cost-savings, operational efficiencies and, most importantly trying gaining a competitive advantage.
Coupled with agility is resiliency of keeping applications running and in case of downtime speed to resolution becomes core to business outcome. Downtime will not be tolerated by users nor by stakeholders who will become more attune to measuring the cost on business and reputation.
Technology continues to move towards being a true enabler rather than just a cost centre and this progression will extend into 2016. As such, 2016 will be about user experience for customer and internal staff supported by the underlying technologies that deliver greater visibility, optimization and control of their IT environment.