Many businesses today are moving customer-facing websites and applications to the cloud—and rightfully so. Cloud computing allows enterprises to reduce infrastructure costs and spend more time focusing on revenue generation and business growth. But cloud computing requires a shift in thinking about how to ensure high-quality user experiences and repeat business.
Simply going live with a cloud deployment isn’t enough. You also need to embrace openness and think about what happens outside the walls of your cloud provider’s data center. Here are three steps all businesses can take to help make sure customers have a speedy, positive experience when accessing cloud-based websites and applications.
1. Choose the right cloud platforms
The first step to ensuring that users who access your internet-facing applications consistently have good experiences is picking the right cloud infrastructure providers. While much of this decision will include trust, reputation and past performance, there is another factor to consider. The equipment your cloud providers use in their data centers will directly impact the performance of your websites and applications.
Here are some questions you’ll want to ask them:
- Has the cloud provider invested heavily in its infrastructure?
- Are they scalable and responsive to my changing needs?
- How often is the hardware replaced and upgraded?
- Is there enough compute, storage, I/O, and virtualization power?
- Can I expect the vendor to meet required service levels?
- Will the vendor’s hardware work well with my software?
- What does the vendor offer in terms of web application security?
- Will the vendor help support a multi-cloud approach?
The concept of “choosing the right cloud platforms” may seem pretty straightforward, and it can be. The problem is that after receiving satisfactory answers to the aforementioned questions, many businesses stop right there, confident that their due diligence is complete.
In the old days, when companies ran everything on premises, stopping at this point would be just fine. Back then, a company probably had a terminal connected to a mainframe in the same building over a private network. This gave the IT manager complete control over the environment. If the hardware was properly optimized and there was enough I/O and end user support, the job was basically done.
But in the era of cloud computing, the process of ensuring solid performance and high-quality user experiences requires some extra effort.
2. Embrace openness to optimize performance
If your business is like most enterprises today, chances are good it’s moving toward a best-of-breed, multi-cloud strategy. You’re looking for applications best suited to the business’s IT needs and want to run each of those apps in the optimal cloud environment.
But if you’re going to be mixing and matching cloud architectures and workloads to optimize performance, you need openness and flexibility. You need to select cloud providers and software vendors who embrace open standards, open source technologies, and who excel at ensuring cross-platform interoperability. Look for cloud providers and software companies who make it relatively easy for you to move workloads between on-premises data centers, their cloud and other clouds.
Developers on your team will also be pleased with this commitment to openness. Today’s developers expect to use modern, open source tools for management and customization. The last thing they want is to get boxed into using subpar, proprietary development tools simply because a software partner deems it necessary.
It’s worth mentioning that just about every software vendor claims to embrace open source in one way or another. But are they using it themselves? Are they active in open source communities? Dig past initial claims to find out if openness truly is a priority.
3. Monitor the internet and actively manage web traffic
It doesn’t matter how good your cloud provider is if current and potential customers around the world can’t quickly and reliably access your applications via the internet.
But the internet is a volatile place. Natural disasters, fiber optic cable cuts, misconfiguration, government shutdowns, congestion, and a host of other problems can delay or derail internet traffic and lead to negative user experiences. That translates to lost revenue for your business.
To solve this problem, you need to monitor and manage the pathways people take to reach your applications via the internet. Today, modern DNS technology is used to manage traffic and workloads across multiple cloud-based systems, content delivery networks, and data center locations. Managed DNS services with traffic steering capabilities enable you to continually monitor and react to internet outages and latencies.
There will always be multiple internet pathways between major markets and your cloud location. Over time, your goal should be to pick a range of those paths that are as independent as possible. Then monitor them 24/7 so you can quickly shift traffic around problems when needed.
In the era of cloud computing, speed and performance are paramount. Businesses that are quick to embrace openness and take an active role in web traffic management will likely find themselves one step ahead of the competition.
Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.