Mind the Gap: The app-data gap is stifling more than just productivity
By Mark Lazarus, Director of Technology, Nimble Storage
In today’s innovation-powered economy, ideas need to travel at the speed of thought. Business users now expect immediate access to data without interruption, demanding information at their fingertips anywhere and at any time.
With applications playing a growing role in our work, companies are relying on hundreds – and in some cases, thousands – of applications in their business processes. Whether it is in product development, or sales or marketing, the rapid growth in business applications and the underlying IT infrastructure that supports them are creating an increasing demand for real-time response. The increasingly complex grid of cloud-based infrastructure, data networks, storage systems, and servers can create downtime or unanticipated delays, causing inefficiency and frustration for users.
It is not just gamers or Netflix binge-watchers who should be concerned about this slowdown of information that threatens their digital gratification – businesses too, should be wary.
When the delivery of data to applications is disrupted, a gap is created. This app-data gap not only has a negative impact on user experience, but also has repercussions on the business outcome and the organizational effectiveness.
The impact on your business
According to a study conducted by Nimble Storage on nearly 3,000 IT professionals and business users based in the US, Germany, the UK, Australia, and Southeast Asia, companies in the US may be losing as much as US$7.5billion of worker time annually due to delays and downtime.
In Southeast Asia, it seems the same situation abounds. Few organizations – if any – are spared: nearly 75 percent of Southeast Asian respondents reported that the speed of applications they use significantly impacts their ability to perform their best in the workplace, and 57 percent of Southeast Asian respondents say they lose more than 10 percent of their workday waiting on technology to deliver the information they need, compared with 42 percent in the U.K., 39 percent in Australia, and 30 percent in Germany.
But it’s not just productivity that the app-data gap is stifling. Many organizations are looking to new technology and solutions to innovate processes and help improve their employees’ performance. For instance, many small and mid-sized businesses are increasingly turning to customer relationship management applications to help them improve their services.
However, with 50 percent of Southeast Asian respondents stating they avoid using some software applications at work completely because they run too slowly, this gap between the data and the application creates a performance bottleneck that ultimately, also damages a business’s ability to operate effectively and innovate.
The impact on IT
When application performance and availability are impacted by the app-data gap, organizations are forced into a reactive mode. In the worst case, down time drives a fire drill complete with ‘all hands on deck’ and sleepless nights. In the best case, user complaints start a troubleshooting process that may go in circles with finger pointing between the storage, virtual machines, networking and development teams.
This cycle is dangerous for IT leaders, as there is little opportunity to partner with the business on proactive initiatives. IT is perceived as a barrier to business productivity rather than a partner in increasing competitiveness.
It is therefore imperative that companies close the app-data gap, not only to improve the performance of current work practices, but also to future-proof their organization against any roadblocks in new processes.
Closing the App-Data Gap
While it is clear that positive cultural changes can help drive greater productivity, it is important to also look at how the IT infrastructure they are providing is impacting their workers’ performance. Most often, IT teams’ first instinct is that storage infrastructure must be the primary cause of application performance issues. This presumption leads IT professionals to implement fast flash-based storage technologies to accelerate performance but flash alone does not address the 54 percent of unrelated storage issues.
Therefore, IT organizations need to leverage predictive analytics that incorporates both data science and machine learning to optimize the performance and availability of applications. These technologies are designed to help identify poor performance early, minimize or eliminate the effects of an issue, prevent businesses from encountering the same problem as their competitors and continually improve performance and availability for users.
Organizations looking to plug the gap should take a holistic approach to their IT infrastructure to address the issue and ultimately improve productivity. Investing in technologies that incorporate both predictive analytics which can automatically predict and prevent concerns as they arise will significantly reduce this burden.
Not only can this be achieved in the short term, by anticipating and quickly responding to complex issues, staving off hot spots, and simplifying planning, but predictive solutions can make forecasts for the application performance storage capacity. This information will ultimately help IT leaders plan for improvements to be made seamlessly and with minimum disruption.