Indian IT leaders revamp their infra for better app performance: Nagendra Venkaswamy, Riverbed

According to Riverbed Global Application Performance Survey 2015, 98 percent of executives agreed that optimal enterprise application performance is essential for achieving optimal business performance, and can drive increased productivity, cost savings, and improved customer satisfaction. Nagendra Venkaswamy, Vice President, Riverbed India and SAARC shares his views and insights on the same.

Sejuti Das Mar 23rd 2016

In this digital and cloud era, everybody wants to gain a comprehensive understanding of how applications are changing, and how they impact businesses around the world. In October 2015, Riverbed with Wakefield Research conducted a custom online survey of 900 global executives in 8 different countries at companies with $500 million or more in revenue. The most interesting finding of the Riverbed Global Application Performance Survey 2015 is the performance gap—the contrast between the great app performance that executives need to support for great business performance, and the less-than-great app performance that they actually receive today.

According to the survey, 98 percent of executives agreed that optimal enterprise application performance was essential in achieving optimal business performance. And yet, 89 percent of executives said poor performance of enterprise applications had negatively impacted their work. Interestingly, younger executives understand application performance to be even more important. Statistically, 100 percent of 27 to 39 year-old business decision makers said app performance was critical to their business performances.

On that note, we spoke to Nagendra Venkaswamy, VP, Riverbed India and SAARC to put in perspective the performance gap between the needs of business and the current ability of IT to deliver the same.

How are hybrid technologies, SDN and hybrid cloud impacting the business transition?

As businesses enter the brave new world of digitization and accelerate their focus on customer experience, hybrid technologies have become nearly ubiquitous in today’s IT environments. Going hybrid can bring significant benefits to businesses, such as increasing agility or accelerating time-to-market, saving costs, and increasing flexibility to host applications and data in the locations that best serve the business. But a hybrid IT environment is more complex than either pure on-premises or pure cloud-based businesses.

With apps, data and users literally everywhere, the work of optimizing and delivering great app performance has gotten much tougher for IT organizations. So to achieve these ideal benefits, they must solve the challenges of hybrid complexity, such as the blind spots, management, and security. Each of these exacerbates the challenge of delivering and managing applications, and data. This can be a real impediment in business transition.

Software-defined networking solutions such as SD-WAN are tools aimed at helping hybrid enterprises to deliver superior application performance. SD-WAN allows enterprises to adopt hybrid applications and hybrid WAN networks with greater agility and ease.

Actual adoption of these technologies is still in the early stages, but poised to take off for sure. According to Gartner, “by the end of 2019, 30 percent of enterprises will use SD-WAN products in all their branch offices, up from less than 1 percent today.”

What according to you are the app performance needs of Indian businesses and where do they stand in this respect?

A decade ago, the private, on-premises data center was the prevailing IT model. Applications and IT resources were typically hosted in a tightly controlled data center and delivered over private WANs to end users. Now, all that has changed.

IT leaders are revamping their existing IT infrastructures to deliver superior application performances. This is as true for businesses in India as it is globally, but we’ll see this take shape in India most dramatically in the years to come, as more and more Indian organizations are accelerating their focus on customer experience and digitization.

They’re breaking away from the legacy architectures and looking for new approaches to solve the challenges of network and application complexity, in the pursuit of greater agility, cost-savings, operational efficiencies and to gain a competitive advantage.

How can sub-optimal app performance impact enterprises in a digitally tranformed world? 

Every organization depends on applications for everything they do today, whether you’re at a local retail store, a hotel, a branch bank or a multinational corporation. If applications don’t work, employees can’t work, collaboration doesn’t happen, products don’t get shipped on time, customers can’t be served, transactions can’t complete, and therefore business is lost.

Application performance directly impacts business performance in every way. In this world of pervasive applications—which are the engine of practically every business activity and function—predictable application performance can be a significant competitive advantage. Companies that master the complexities of delivering superior application performance have huge advantages in employee productivity, business agility, cost efficiency and customer service.

What would organizations sacrifice for better application performances?

Application performance has a tremendous impact on business performances. According to the survey, 81 percent of executives said the poor performance of enterprise applications has negatively impacted their work, and 71 percent said it impacted their work at least weekly. This performance gap is causing a series of problems for companies, from lost revenue to lower morale to negative impact on brand image.

The same survey found that executives in India would be willing to sacrifice a lot for applications to work at peak performance at all times. In fact, 51 percent would give up their full lunch break. They would also give up a portion of their program budget, caffeine, and even chocolate.

How do you think organizations should bridge the performance gap?

Organizations should first look at user experience of applications and then understand the components that can impact the experience. This approach will help in solving the existing challenges in the system and will also bridge the performance gap.

We, at Riverbed, engage with many companies that are juggling multiple point solutions from multiple vendors to address a small part of the overall application performance picture. It’s a concoction for disconnected operations, confusions and loss of business performances. 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.

First, you need visibility—the ability to see and to know what’s happening across your application delivery infrastructure. Organizations need the ability to see all applications and data moving across their enterprise, regardless of whether they are on-premises or in the cloud. They can perform this task through analytics that give business leaders across the company insight into metrics that matter for optimal efficiency, productivity and growth.

Secondly, organizations need optimization to ensure superior performance for maximum productivity.

And third, they need to manage the complexities of the hybrid enterprise and take control, which means simplifying the orchestration of resources across the hybrid enterprise so that the infrastructure can support the speed of their business.

How does Riverbed plan to address the Indian market this year?

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’ve expanded our resourcing on our SI partners and service providers aligning to how they want to consume our offerings.

Along with that, through partnerships with key India partners such as Airtel, Hughes, Dimension Data, and Wipro, we are jointly creating new value added services to help customers in easily solve their application performance needs.

Lastly, our offerings are aligned to customers’ need, and with the increased dependence on cloud and SaaS applications our solutions are designed to augment the user experience regardless of application source, connection used or location of the user.

Our recent acquisition of Ocedo, a provider of SDN and SD-WAN solutions, will help us expand and accelerate our delivery of best-in-class SD-WAN solutions to our customers. We plan to launch an initial SD-WAN solution in Q2 2016 to complement and expand our application performance platform, and India will be a key focus for that rollout.

How are you planning to expand the scope of your business?

At Riverbed, we want to bring our vision, leadership and experience in application performance management to a vastly broader audience, across multiple industries and roles globally. Several years ago, we envisioned the market transition—that customers would need to have a complete solution for visibility, optimization and control in order to move to a software-defined enterprise with more agility to take full advantage of cloud, SaaS, hybrid and SD-WAN options. 

We called this application performance infrastructure, and today, it is a market with a $10 billion TAM. Today, we are on the forefront of driving this radical new approach, reimagining the distributed network so that it’s application-centric, agile and software-defined.