Application SLA – Knowing is Half the Battle

In today’s world, digital transformation has changed how people interact with businesses and conduct their work. They interface with applications on the network. These applications need to be responsive and provide a quality of experience that enables people to appreciate the business and the services they provide. When an application degrades in performance, it negatively affects the user’s experience. This negative experience translates to lost value to revenues, brand, and worker productivity.

Maintaining that quality of experience is an ongoing struggle that requires continuous monitoring and reactive adjustments to the application delivery infrastructure to keep the application performing at optimal levels. It is critical to identify the metrics that indicate the application’s performance and determine the thresholds that support the application’s acceptable service levels.

What to monitor?

The application delivery infrastructure is a network built and supported by the IT organization. The core network infrastructure is traditionally designed to be resilient and redundant. Any impact from a single failure should be mitigated by dynamic protocols like Spanning Tree, OSPF, and N+1 network architectures.

But, these designs do not address the end-to-end performance of the application across this infrastructure. There are some key items that IT organizations can do to ensure that the application is performing optimally on top of the network distribution infrastructure.

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  • Optimize content delivery – Take advantage of the application protocols like HTTP to accelerate the application. HTTP/2 was introduced in February, 2015 and is designed to improve the performance of web applications. Use HTTP/2 and application delivery controllers (ADC) to speed up the user experience.
  • Secure the network – Most security threats do not disable the application. Instead, they are more likely to degrade the performance of the application. Instead of an outage, there is an application brown out that frustrates the user and can make the application experience worse than an actual outage.
  • Provide elasticity – Another major cause of application degradation is the overuse of application resources. When there are not enough resources to allow the application to respond efficiently, the user experience degrades. Design a network infrastructure that can add and remove application resources to meet the user demands during peak times.

Do you have application SLAs defined?

How do you know when an application is underperforming? It is essential that service level agreements (SLA) are defined for each critical application. These SLAs need to be defined with the application goals, user expectations, and IT infrastructure capabilities in mind.

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Once these SLAs are defined, the IT operations team needs to determine how the SLAs will be monitored. How is the end-to-end performance of the application monitored? Metrics such as latency, response time, and application responsiveness must be monitored and gauged against the defined SLAs.

It is also important to determine how the IT operations team troubleshoots application SLA issues. Often, the first question is the source of the problem. Is it a network issue, server issue, or even a user issue? Handing the problem off the to correct escalation team quickly is a critical step to efficiently triage an issue. Unfortunately, these IT problems tend to be a hot potato where no organization wants to take responsibility unless there is evidence that they are responsible for the corrective measures. Network operations teams need to have the appropriate metrics to be able to properly escalate the issue to the correct IT team.

Information is power

The ADC provides a key resource to deliver metrics for the IT organization to measure and monitor end-to-end application performance. With the right tools, these metrics can be measured against defined application SLAs to provide real-time monitoring of the performance. End-to-end application performance monitoring and application SLA assurance is a reality today with the right tools when properly integrated into network operations processes.

It is possible to keep the application delivery infrastructure running smoothly when work is done upfront to determine the criteria that define optimal performance and implement the solutions that provide insight into the application performance.

To learn more, watch this webinar hosted by Radware’s Frank Yue:


Read “Keep It Simple; Make It Scalable: 6 Characteristics of the Futureproof Load Balancer” to learn more.

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Frank Yue

Frank Yue is Director of Solution Marketing, Application Delivery for Radware. In this role, he is responsible for evangelizing Radware technologies and products before they come to market. He also writes blogs, produces white papers, and speaks at conferences and events related to application networking technologies. Mr. Yue has over 20 years of experience building large-scale networks and working with high performance application technologies including deep packet inspection, network security, and application delivery. Prior to joining Radware, Mr. Yue was at F5 Networks, covering their global service provider messaging. He has a degree in Biology from the University of Pennsylvania.

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