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Application performance a concern for remote offices

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Interop Las Vegas 2008 was the most appropriate industry event for Riverbed Technology to find out what’s top of mind for its core audience – IT and business decision-makers within the networking, storage and application markets.

Riverbed surveyed hundreds of attendees over the three-day exhibition on their primary concerns with managing the IT infrastructure of increasingly dispersed organizations.
Visitors to the Riverbed booth were asked the following questions:
* What are the top two concerns you’ll be addressing at branch offices in the next 12 months?
* What is the biggest hurdle that your organization faces when addressing remote end-user application performance?
* On a scale of 1-10, how important is application performance for: your branch offices; your data centres; or your mobile workers?
As branch offices and mobile workers play an increasingly critical role in business growth, IT struggles to keep up as these users demand fast application performance.  When asked about the top two IT concerns being addressed at remote offices in the next 12 months, the performance of mission-critical applications was the key issue driving IT decisions, followed by data protection.
“The ability to deliver real-time access to critical applications enables a host of business benefits, including dramatically improved collaboration between distributed employees, improved productivity and happier, more satisfied employees,” says Eric Wolford, senior vice president, marketing and business development at Riverbed. “However, as organizations consolidate their IT infrastructure to ensure data protection, application performance often suffers. The CIO’s dilemma is reconciling these competing demands.”
Riverbed WDS solutions speed the performance of applications over the wide area network (WAN) by five to 50 times, and sometimes up to 100 times. This performance improvement allows organizations to remove IT infrastructure from remote sites and consolidate applications and data in secure data centers, while ensuring that user performance is not affected.
In addition, in February 2008, Riverbed introduced its Riverbed Services Platform (RSP), an extensible data services platform that enables the delivery of virtualized edge services without the need to deploy additional physical servers at remote or branch offices. The RSP allows customers to deploy best-of-breed services from their choice of vendors on Steelhead appliances in a self-contained partition to minimize the hardware infrastructure footprint at the branch office. In a typical RSP deployment, companies can run “serverless” branch offices by simplifying IT infrastructure to include just a router and a Steelhead appliance.
When asked, “What is the biggest hurdle that your organization faces when addressing remote end-user application performance,” the top response was slow response times and frustrated end users.
“There is a common misperception that just adding more bandwidth at remote sites will solve slow response times or application performance issues in consolidated IT environments,” says Wolford. “As companies centralise applications, they quickly learn that, more often than not, issues arise even when a location is over-provisioned. It’s not uncommon to see a link at five percent utilization while applications are crawling. Network and application latency are the silent killers of application performance.
"Our WDS solutions were purpose-built to overcome these issues and enable LAN-like performance over WANs, even in situations where bandwidth is constrained. From our experience, with over 4 000 customers, the end result is happy, more productive end users. And the IT department gets all the praise – often for the first time.”
It is no surprise that respondents also had concerns about budgets. Budgets have always been an IT concern, but the state of today’s economy has IT decision makers looking to evaluate various cost-cutting initiatives. Companies are looking to implement cost cutting measures that won’t negatively impact business operations or hinder growth in the long term. According to a recent IDC study, the payback period from deploying the Riverbed solution is approximately seven months.
A recent Forrester study outlines the need for a long-term strategy for distributed work environments – including the data center, branch office and mobile worker.  Attendees surveyed at Interop agreed that, when considering application performance, the branch, data center and mobile worker are equally important.  On average, respondents noted the importance of application performance for the branch, data center and mobile worker as 8.0 or higher (on a 10 point scale).
Riverbed is the only vendor to provide a comprehensive strategy to improve application performance for all employees – no matter their location.  The ability to quickly connect an organization's data center, branch offices and mobile workers is a capability that not all vendors are prepared to support even though the customer demand is growing.  With its Steelhead Mobile, based on its award-winning WDS technology, Riverbed delivers LAN-like application performance to all employees regardless of location.
“We are not surprised by the Interop survey results.  The responses we received mimic concerns that our customer base, now more than 4 000 organisations, cite on an ongoing basis. Many of the enhancements made to our WDS solution are a direct result of customer feedback,” says Wolford.
“Accessing applications faster has always been the number one reason customers choose Riverbed.  By partnering with best-of-breed partners and enhancing products to address growing challenges, such as application visibility, we’ve found our customers looking to us for more than just speed.”