Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) has become a standard consideration for even the largest companies, but the tools IT teams have traditionally used for application performance monitoring aren't designed for these online tools. IT needs another way to make sure SaaS applications such as Salesforce.com are working properly.
In order to understand and get full visibility into SaaS applications and how they are performing, you need to do the following:
1. Measure the actual end-user experience. If you could perform synthetic transactions, logging into a SaaS service like a real user and using the application like a real user, this would allow you to directly measure how long it takes to perform common actions. You could look at how long it takes to, for example, activate a Salesforce account today versus what the application was able to do yesterday. You may find that the service is functioning properly but running slower than users may expect. You could detect if any part of the application is not working at all or if it's not working up to the expectations of the user or the SLA. To do this accurately, you would need to do it from your own location over your own network, making it as realistic a representation of the actual user experience as possible.
2. Identify what is competing for resources on your network. Today, every employee has one or more devices capable of streaming high definition images and audio, most of which will automatically connect to the company wireless network. Now that companies have many of their critical apps connecting to the Internet, those critical apps can be competing for resources with the recreational apps. A single Google Hangout videoconference consumes more bandwidth than 20 sales people on Salesforce, and usually the network is going to treat them exactly the same.
Since everything is web-based now, you need to identify how many applications are in use on your network and how many people are running them. An increase in network traffic is going to reduce bandwidth and further erode SaaS performance. By understanding where your resources are being consumed, you can determine if there are any apps that shouldn't be allowed to consume capacity.
One thing you can do is set up a separate wireless network for the mobile devices employees are using and prevent them from going on the regular network through the use of MAC address filtering. By doing that, you can dedicate bandwidth to each network separately, gaining control over how much capacity is available to different devices.
3. Find and fix network problems. If you're not getting what you paid for from your ISP, or your network isn't configured properly, or your wireless isn't working as expected, that can have an effect on every application. Network issues tend to be localized differently than application issues, and they tend to be sporadic -- 90% of the delivery path of a SaaS app is beyond your firewall. By monitoring the network all the way back to its hosting site, you can understand if the underlying infrastructure is up to the task of delivering a quality application experience to.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.