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Organizations making the move to cloud services are well aware of the many benefits like lower startup costs, lower total cost of ownership and on-demand scalability. But many companies fail to take a hard enough look at the corresponding challenges associated with application availability and performance.

For many cloud services deployments, network performance will be the key to application performance. Why? Because every business service accessed over cloud infrastructure is by definition a remote, network-dependent service. Every user becomes a remote user and every office, even the corporate headquarters, becomes a remote office.

Even services-based applications will stumble, freeze and eventually disconnect users when network bandwidth, jitter, latency or packet loss metrics drop below acceptable thresholds. Many of the applications being moved to cloud infrastructure were not originally designed for remote access, making them even more susceptible to changes in network performance.

In short: a successful cloud services deployment depends on your ability to guarantee application performance from the user’s perspective. That means you need to manage network performance.

What are the key steps for managing network performance for cloud service deployments?

One: Network assessment

The first step in ensuring a successful cloud services deployment is to perform a comprehensive baseline assessment of network performance. When rolling out cloud services – or other IP-based services like VoIP, video conferencing, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) or IP storage – many organizations underestimate the operational and business risk associated with unplanned network impacts.

A network assessment is the only way to accurately know the scope of the project and its costs. It’s also the only way to know if your network is up to the task of carrying the extra traffic

Two: Continuous monitoring

Users need the performance of cloud-based services to be at least as good as what their current infrastructure delivers. To guarantee acceptable performance you need to be aware in real-time of the ever-changing status of the networks connecting remote users to applications. Latency, jitter and other key network performance metrics can fluctuate continuously in response to changes in traffic and other factors

Continuous monitoring capability is also required to give you real-time visibility into service levels. This is the basis for troubleshooting network problems, as well as for ensuring that cloud and other third-party providers are meeting their contractual commitments.

Further, the physical distance that data must take between the cloud and the user has a huge impact on performance, especially for TCP based applications. This parameter will vary among different public cloud providers, making monitoring performance over time an important step in evaluating cloud hosting options.

Three: Proactive troubleshooting

Today’s cloud-based services are business-critical and ensuring their availability is vital. Traditional break-fix approaches to network management are not adequate to meeting many of today’s SLAs.

Network engineers therefore need a way to pinpoint the exact cause and location of performance degradation — even within the virtual network and servers making up the cloud. This makes it possible proactively address network issues before they impact users. Likewise, if cloud services crash and a plethora of service providers start finger-pointing, you need to know, quickly and decisively, who is responsible for what.

Maximizing the business benefits of cloud deployments

How can organizations ensure that the performance of their network enables them to derive maximum benefits from cloud computing? AppNeta’s PathView Cloud technology enables you to guarantee application performance across all cloud, data center, remote office and mobile environments today. In addition to providing unmatched insight into network performance from the perspective of remote users, AppNeta’s cloud-based Pathview Cloud service delivers immediate time-to-value, affordable licensing and on-demand scalability.

Want to learn more? Join AppNeta on Thursday, September 8th, 2pm ET for the Preparing Your Enterprise Network for Cloud Services Deployment Webinar, or start your own free trial today!

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We are all witnessing a dramatic shift from traditional network infrastructures to web-based, cloud based hosted services.  A rapidly growing number of organizations are taking the leap:  to hosted email, disaster recovery, exchange,  and CRM. By leveraging economies of scale, cloud based services can offer significant cost savings, versatile capabilities and low maintenance compared to traditional on -premise solutions.

With the growing number of IT services that can now be processed and delivered via the cloud, there is also an increased sense of insecurity within organizations looking to make the move.  The lack of visibility into cloud services and the infrastructure they run on create a level of risk that many organizations are not ready to manage.  However, this also creates a particular niche for service providers and IT resellers who can lead these organizations through the transition, and make a profit in the process! Traditional IT outsourcers and managed service providers are in a unique position to fill this requirement. MSPs have been serving as IT experts and advisors for small to medium sized businesses for some time. And because many companies lack traditional IT departments they a need a cloud services expert to mitigate the transition to cloud based services; doing so by addressing risk and assuring performance.

So, how do you become a provider of remote cloud service performance management?

  1. You need to have the right solutions and capabilities in place: A solution that can remotely manage WAN performance of your customer’s infrastructure is vital to create a scalable managed services business.  Another key feature to look for in a solution is the capability to remotely manage a multitude of customer sites from any location.
  2. You need to have a pricing model and service structure: Organizations looking to utilize Cloud Services do so because of the ease of use and low cost of these services.  To properly price a cloud assurance service, you should follow these same guidelines.  A simple and scalable pricing model that provides a fixed annual cost to your customer works best.  We recommend you create a user-based pricing model; many organizations are accustomed to paying for services on a per user basis. (i.e. software licensing, phone lines, bandwidth). The service structure can be an added line item for continuous monitoring with bundled service hours, or an ‘all you can eat’ service contract (which many MSPs and end users are moving towards.)
  3. You need to beat out your competition: This is all happening NOW. Organizations are starting to research, re-budget and implement cloud-based services while simultaneously moving away from traditional on premise devices and services. You need to bring your service to them first to get the new business and recurring revenue.

Please visit http://www.apparentnetworks.com/partners/build-your-business-with-cloudsmart/ to learn more about implementing a service around Remote Performance Management, or email partners@apparentnetworks.com to set up a call to discuss how to start to implement this service into your business.

As companies turn to the Cloud as a low cost, highly scalable and agile way to save on their infrastructure cost or to host new applications, a number of cloud performance testing and monitoring solutions are appearing. There are applications popping up to perform load testing against your cloud infrastructure, some of which are even developed and hosted by the providers themselves, such as Grinder in the Cloud and Pylot,  as well as a number of commercial services.

While these tools are needed and can be quite valuable, they all miss the most critical aspect of cloud performance: the physical distance between your users and the cloud infrastructure.

The majority of applications that are run from the Cloud are running on top of TCP and because TCP is location dependent, the physical distance between your users and the Cloud Datacenter has a dramatic impact on the maximum achievable performance you will see from the cloud. As this example details the latency on a network connection can be a bigger factor in the end to end performance, so much so that a 1 Gbps WAN connection from New York to Chicago with latency of 30ms has a maximum achievable throughput of 17.4 Mbps. That distance between New York and Chicago just cost you 98% of the capacity you are paying for. Finding out where the Cloud Data Centers are should be one of the critical questions to be answered before signing on with any Cloud Provider.

There is now a way to see the performance to each of these cloud providers both in terms of the maximum achievable performance as well as the performance to major cities around North America. The Cloud Performance Center measures the performance from 10 major cities to leading Cloud Providers. The Cloud Performance Center provides real-time performance information including the Total and Available bandwidth, Latency, Packet Loss and Round Trip Time. All of this information is available free, and you can subscribe to be notified of performance issues in any provider you are interested in.

The low cost and high performance of the Cloud is changing the way IT is delivered, and now you are armed with the info needed to choose the right Cloud provider for you. Check out how your provider is performing at www.cloudperformancecenter.com

Earlier this week, our Cloud Performance Center (CPC) detected a connectivity loss that occurred at Amazon’s EC2 data center in northern Virginia. The CPC is powered by our PathView Cloud tool, which monitors network path performance into and out of the key datacenters of several major cloud service providers across the U.S. As part of the free CPC service, we issued a Performance Advisory later that same day, informing cloud service consumers and other interested parties about the location, nature and duration of the problem. 

The point of this whole exercise is not some kind of ‘gotcha’ network management. In fact, Amazon and the other providers we monitor do a great job of providing reliable services. The point is that when the Internet is involved, stuff happens.

If your company is one of the many that has already moved critical applications into the Cloud, you need to know about that “stuff’ quickly and whether or not it’s affecting your operations.  You need to know what is going on not only at your provider’s datacenter, but more importantly, between your Cloud provider and your customers and employees. 

To gain that critical insight, you need the network-path perspective.  That’s what our PathView Cloud tool and our CPC resources deliver. 

Cloud computing is a great technological advancement that has already delivered lots of value.  But we’re only scratching the surface of what the cloud approach can do for us.  For cloud computing to live up to all the hype, we all need a greater understanding and awareness of the network paths that go to, through and from the cloud. 

Apparent Networks is already there!

If you work in enterprise IT, there’s a good chance you’re heading down the road to outsourcing some of your key applications to a cloud service provider. While considering your options, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

First, make sure that you know what you’ll need from the cloud provider. All the major providers offer a growing list of service options. Stay focus on your ‘must-haves’ and on the service levels your provider will commit to for them.

It is equally important for you to understand how those services will work where you’ll actually be using them. That means not just inside the cloud provider’s ultra-modern, over-provisioned data centers, but past their firewall all the way out to your company’s key locations. This includes geographies where most of your customers are and where you have office locations.

In a way, it’s similar to buying a car. That Ferrari Testarossa in the dealer’s showroom sure is an awesome machine. But if you’re always going to use it to get to your mountain cabin at the end of a logging road, you’ll be much better off making a different choice.

Therein lies the key question: How will it work for my particular purposes in my specific locations. Up until today, it was very difficult to get specific metrics on cloud service provider performance over distributed networks, and it was impossible to get such measurements for the specific destinations that matter to you.

But today, Apparent Networks has changed the status quo with the launch of our Cloud Performance Center. With the new free service, we’re delivering cloud service provider performance information in context – where the context is your business.

The Cloud Performance Center (CPC) is truly a first-of-its-kind service. CPC visitors get instant access to real-time and historical data on how well – or how poorly – leading cloud services providers Like Amazon, Google GoGrid perform not only inside their firewalls, but all the way out to your end points – where the rubber meets the road. As part of the CPC, we’re also providing reports and advisories on topical issues that can impact users’ abilities to interact with the Internet and cloud service providers. Learn more by reading the press release.

There’s nothing like driving a Ferrari – but not if you wind up in a ditch every day. The same goes for cloud-based services. They can be great if you pick the right vendor with the best service delivery in the areas that matter to you and your business.

Our new Cloud Performance Center will give you the information you need to make the best choice – and move fast and safely on the network roads that drive your business.


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