Headquarters in America, branches in Europe, offices in Sydney, suppliers in Taiwan, employees at home, on the road, and everywhere in between. All of them need to connect to business-critical applications and expect to be able to do so from whatever device is at hand.
Of course, globalisation is not a new concept, but situations like these are increasingly prevalent in the enterprise world and they are forcing companies to consider alternatives in their enterprise network fabric. At the same time, the consumerisation of IT is pushing IT organisations to rethink their application delivery, mobile, and cloud strategies. The key to developing new business strategies to tackle these issues is to understand the depth of the challenges that IT currently faces, as well as how they have previously conquered challenges in the enterprise environment.
Over the last decade the rise of powerful, intuitive mobile devices and consumer-oriented cloud technologies have driven a rise in employee expectations concerning enterprise application delivery. This means that the user experience must be exceptional or the potential of cloud-based applications will never be fulfilled. Even worse, poor performance may actively discourage employee productivity. While IT remains responsible for the overall end-user experience, the increasing reliance on cloud networks mean that it is losing control of both data centers and user devices.
Without control of the data centre IT lacks visibility and cannot guarantee application reliability, security, or server performance. Bring your own device (BYOD) initiatives mean that IT must strike a balance between imposing standards and ensuring performance and compatibility across a wide range of devices as well as over variable mobile networks.
Consumer-oriented internet applications that involve rich, sophisticated content and media have raised the bar for enterprise web applications. These sites create large payloads and incorporate complex renderings, which means that enterprise network architectures must incorporate solutions to optimise delivery of rich content. This is especially important given the characteristics and relatively underpowered hardware of the mobile devices that BYOD policies encourage.
Mobile networks create another layer of complexity in application delivery, Websites must overcome the same first and middle mile bottlenecks as traditional sites for desktop clients in addition to last miles with much higher latency and packet loss than fixed lines. When apps or sites require numerous requests (as is often the case) the problem is compounded and performance degrades exponentially.
Of course, as any good business leader knows, no challenge comes without an opportunity. While enterprises must renovate their application delivery in the face of challenges posed by the globalisation and consumerisation of IT, these challenges stem directly from the opportunities presented by a global, hyperconnected, and mobile-first world. Moving forward, investment in the right application delivery solutionis the first step to increasing the agility and productivity of enterprise business processes and their employees.
Gary Ballabio is product director, Enterprise Cloud Solutions, at Akamai.