Shamus McGillicuddy is a Senior Analyst for EMA and is a featured guest blogger.
Online retailers have understood the importance of web application performance for a long time, since back when the Amazon was better known as a river than as an e-commerce giant. Enterprises have been a little slower to catch on. Sooner or later, though, all of them will realize that web performance optimization isn’t just for e-commerce apps anymore.
Often, enterprises consider IT organizations and their applications as overhead expenses. IT receives the minimum resources to deliver “good enough” applications. These enterprises should take a lesson from online retailers, who recognized early on that the optimal delivery of applications improves user experience and consequently boosts sales. Optimal enterprise application delivery can have the same effect. Faster application response times mean improved employee productivity and increased user satisfaction. Optimizing the application for the increasing use of alternative access devices such as tablets, phones, and mobile devices improves the efficiency of the network infrastructure.
HTTP is a transport, not an application
In today’s environment, most applications are web-based, utilizing HTTP and HTTP/S over generally available web clients. Many IT organizations have lost control over how users access web-based applications due to the proliferation of available clients and access devices. Now anything with a browser can serve as a client device, and IT loses a certain degree of control over user experience when this happens. Due to the open architecture of this application delivery model, visibility into performance suffers without the tools that are usually built into dedicated client-server models. An increasing number of enterprises are leveraging public and hybrid cloud architectures that deliver applications from various locations making this problem even harder to address.
When enterprises reach the point where critical applications are delivered via a web-based architecture, they need to approach application delivery like an e-commerce company. They need to accept that web performance optimization isn’t just for eBay and Amazon. SAP and Oracle applications also need a boost, too. HTTP and HTTPS are enterprise transport protocols now, just as much as TCP is.
E-commerce companies ensure the best transaction delivery with web performance optimization. Web content providers like Walmart and Best Buy protect brand image and user retention with it. Enterprises can use web performance optimization to enhance employee productivity and satisfaction.
Whither lies the application?
With the proliferation of the cloud, applications are being placed in multiple locations. It is possible that the application can be served from the private datacenter, public IaaS provider, or even in the public cloud hosted on someone else’s servers. In many cases, the application can be served from all these sources at the same time. In this model, the applications will require communications to other backend resources. These communications often use HTTP. In these cases, all links in the application chain need to be optimized. Architects need to understand this as they roll an application into production.
E-commerce is not just for e-tail
Enterprise architects need to adopt an e-commerce mindset for application delivery. The browser is the new client, and as an enterprise architect, you should include web performance optimization in your design. Whether you are monitoring, optimizing, or troubleshooting, HTTP has to be a part of your application delivery mindset.