Incorporating performance-as-a-service into the XaaS model

The adoption of everything-as-a-service (XaaS) is on an unstoppable upward trend. By Joe Bombagi, Director Solutions Engineering, UK & Ireland at Riverbed Technology.

Both LinkedIn and Adobe have already embraced a software-as-a-service (SaaS) approach so they can deliver innovation faster and more cost-effectively for their customers who crave flexibility. For the same reasons, Amazon Web Services has adopted the infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) model and Windows Azure a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) approach. Needless to say, XaaS uptake has already been significant. 


However, thus far, a crucial element has been missing from the proposition —  performance-as-a-service. This will be the next frontier in XaaS and the key to the market reaching its anticipated $344.3 billion valuation by 2024. Afterall, companies are facing an increasingly challenging business environment and need to ensure employee productivity to survive and thrive. Network and application performance is key to this. Therefore, it’s only logical for companies to bring in experts who can offer them a lifeline through performance-as-a-service.


Why we need to plug the performance-as-a-service gap

System performance, for instance the time it takes to access and download resources, directly impacts staff productivity, and consequently a companies’ ability to operate efficiently and maintain a competitive edge. In fact, just under 50 percent of C-Suite executives acknowledge that slow running and outdated technology is currently impacting the growth of their business, according to Riverbed’s recent Rethink Possible report.


Just think about the broad range of businesses, across multiple sectors, that depend on computer-aided design (CAD) to do their work. CAD files are notoriously large. As a consequence, they will take a long time to load if the user is on a network that is performing slowly. This not only causes employee frustration but damages staff productivity and impedes the businesses’ overall ability to service clients efficiently. The result? Dissatisfied customers who will be primed to move to a competitor that can deliver the same services quicker and more effectively. 


The links between slow-running technology, employee inefficiency and business challenges are clear. However, identifying that the technology is not performing as it should isn’t as simple as one might think. Businesses need to introduce capabilities such as performance-as-a-service, so they can achieve visibility into network and application performance, to identify where issues lie and how to resolve them for optimum performance.


The role of visibility in performance-as-a-service 

Every organisation that wants to guarantee their systems are operating efficiently need end-to-end visibility. Without it, they are hamstrung in their ability to identify and resolve performance issues. With this in mind, it’s concerning that a third of IT decision makers don’t have full visibility into their businesses’ applications, networks and end-users, according to Riverbed’s Rethink Possible report. These companies need to embrace performance-as-a-service, delivered in the form of application performance and optimisation platforms, to bridge the visibility gap. 


Adopting these tools will empower IT operations teams to visualise any challenges employees may be facing, so they can be resolved before they negatively impact staff productivity. For instance, they will enable IT to look at every packet flow and identify bottlenecks, such as when Office 365 is being excessively slow. Armed with this information, IT teams will be able to identify the need for an application accelerator which could cut opening and download times. As such, performance-as-a-service guarantees end-users superior digital experiences, which they can use to better serve customers.


Performance-as-a-service holds the key to meaningful SLAs

The visibility into network and application performance, delivered as part of the performance-as-service model, not only ensures staff productivity but offers the key to implementing meaningful service-level agreements (SLAs). 


At present, a common SLA is uptime, but 100% uptime is irrelevant if usability is missing. Ultimately, nobody cares if an application is up 99.99% of the time if the performance of that application is so poor it’s practically unusable. Harnessing performance-as-a-service, IT teams can lay down tangible performance quality requirements when signing new agreements with service providers. They can then track how their providers are performing against these SLAs through their enhanced visibility into network and application performance. This will ensure they are getting a strong return on their investment.


Expanding the XaaS model to incorporate performance-as-a-service 

Performance-as-a-service has the potential to form a powerful part of the XaaS proposition for two key reasons. Firstly, managing the performance of applications and networks is the key to employee productivity, and in turn business efficiency and competitive advantage. Secondly, it enables businesses to hold service providers to account through meaningful SLAs. After all, it is relatively simple for service providers to introduce new technology, but it is far more complex to make that technology work well for the business.


Performance-as-a-service, therefore, ensures cost and operational efficiency. In an ordinary business climate, these make the difference between growth and profitability and stagnation. However, under the strained business conditions that COVID-19 has created, performance-as-a-service can no longer be ignored if businesses want to withstand these challenging times.


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