Asia's Source for Enterprise Network Knowledge

Friday, March 24th, 2017

Cloud

Improve Internet performance by diversifying your cloud portfolio

Quality Internet Performance is essential for the health and well-being of your company. SMBs and Fortune 500 alike are allocating an ever increasing portion of their budgets toward strengthening their web assets, cloud-based services, content acceleration, and SaaS-based applications to keep their customers’ Internet access fast, secure and uninterrupted.

But the question is: does all this investment really translate to better access to products and services for their end-users? For many, the answer is a resounding “no.”

Between the time a potential customer enters a domain and a page opens, a tremendous amount happens between the business connection and the customer. Errors can occur within the network, at the CDN or ISP level, or with a customer connection. A website can be slow for many reasons as well, and most consumers—and companies, for that matter—have little insight into the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of their performance issues. Understanding these connections—monitoring, controlling and optimising these connections—is the true test of Internet performance.

Pipeline Failures, Security Threats, Latencies—Oh My

Whether your company is in a fast-growth stage or already a mature market leader, all companies operating on the Internet are global companies. Understanding the flow of information and the level of connectivity of customers is no longer a “nice to have” feature of your network intelligence. It is crucial to have true insights into your network traffic.

Pipeline failures and outages can cause serious downtime for your site and your customers. With the rise of wireless access, it’s easy to think of the Internet as a ubiquitous resource. But the Internet is made up of physical pipelines that can affect the way your customers get to you. These pipes can fail, be slow, or be of poor or inconsistent quality. And while your site may be up and running smoothly, your customer’s experience is still poor. There are on average 3,000 outages on the Internet around the world every day. Mitigating for these risks to Internet performance should always be on your radar.

Security threats are not new, but the risks they pose are increasing in severity. Customers believing they are connecting to your app can be hijacked through another network to another site where their data can be compromised. While the majority of these hijacks are simply clerical errors, they could harm your business. An example is the Man-in-the-Middle (MiTM) attack, where data can be collected along an Internet path before being connected to its destination without the customer or the business knowing until it’s too late. These hijacks happen so often you may not realize you’ve been affected.In July this year, hackers breached motor dealer Eurokars Group’s Mazda website and placed its logo and a message on the site.The estimated cost to businesses is high—anything from $140,000 to $540,000 per hour. Customer confidence and business reputation are also put on the line.

Latencies aren’t always major infrastructure or data traffic issues. The device your customer is using to access the web plays a major role in the quality of their connection. Traditional desktop users connect via fibre, DSL, cable or even dial-up. Even those with the most sophisticated connection experiencesome slowdown because of the way data flows through the Internet. Mobile users can experience even higher latencies. According to an FCC research report, a 4G connection had a latency overhead of 600ms on new connections, a 3G connection had a latency of over 2s on new connections, and even existing open connections had a latency as high as 500ms.

While some of these issues may seem out of your control, the resources available to help mitigate them are steadily growing. Whether connectivity and performance issues occur at the customer connection point or within the greater network, your company is ultimately perceived as part of the issue and could lose hard-won brand reputation and market share. Consumers across Asia Pacific are extremely sensitive to website performance and security.Any interruption in service can be very bad for business.

Take Control by Teaming up with Multiple Cloud Service Providers

Since serving customers online is table stakes, preventing issues that affect Internet Performance for companies in the cloud is the key to long-term success. The best mitigation technique is to opt for not just one Cloud Service Provider (CSP), but several.

Using a variety of CSPs gives your company access to multiple cloud instances (locations), allowing you to meet your customers in their different markets and leverage local pathways to connect with them. Using an advanced DNS solution with geo-location, you can control which cloud instance serves which customers. This capability gives your business more flexibility and value, allowing you to scale with an always-on impression for customers. The ability to access different pathways also comes in handy when there are outages or slow load times—whether due to a traffic routing problem or a malicious attack. Working with multiple cloud providers will help you circumvent these issues by rerouting traffic as quickly as possible to ensure minimal interruption in your customer service.

Moreover, having multiple CSPs can help protect against problems before they even occur. Deploying apps and services to two (or more) cloud instances allows them to back each other up, using a load balancing or failover DNS architecture. This fail-safe, along with an ability to monitor the availability, reachability and performance of your selected cloud instances, can allow you to react quickly and change routing issues when they arise.

Handling Service Level Agreements

Service level agreements (SLAs) are usually included as an addendum to a contract, rather than a contract itself. Typical provisions in an SLA will address minimum Internet Performance standards in terms of speed, latency, and availability (or uptime). Additionally, the SLA will define remedies (SLA credits) for SLA violations and the process for requesting an SLA credit.

It is important to know that there is typically little to no room for negotiation of a third‐party service provider’s SLA terms. The service provider will correctly argue that it is impossible for it to maintain different SLA terms for each of their several thousand customers. Still, SLA negotiation is an important part of the selection and provisioning process and you should fully understand your service provider’s SLA provisions before signing a contract.

What’s better than SLAs with CSPs and CDNs is to have alternatives. That is really the play with a multi-vendor approach: have options, monitor them for health, have a way to easily implement changes, test options under light loads, switch when necessary, keep tuning and testing.An Internet performance approach is all about choosing the right paths at the right time and optimising availability, speed, and security.

The Bottom Line

Forrester has noted that we are in the “Age of the Customer,” implying that businesses who survive—and thrive—are the ones that best understand, accommodate and serve the increasingly powerful and discerning customer. With massive amounts of business being done online, and the shift from face-to-face to Internet transactions, every business needs to consider Internet access from the customer’s perspective. The key is having insight into Web performance across the customer channel, both to and from your Web property.

The Internet is your competitive edge to use or lose. Taking full advantage of multiple Cloud partnerships and spending more time examining internet performance will give you the flexibility and control to provide a consistent, quality experience for each and every customer.

Martin Ryan is Managing Director, Vice President, Asia Pacific, Dyn