The Far-Reaching Implications of a Slow Cloud

by Josh Biggs in Software, Tech on 26th August 2021

The cloud has been one of the biggest and most transformative tech revolutions of recent decades. Allowing users to access computing power and storage wherever they are, the cloud means no more requirement for expensive on-prem computing infrastructure, while adding a level of flexibility and convenience that would have been unimaginable in a pre-cloud world.

Today, it’s hard to find some computing use-case that isn’t connected to the cloud. The Internet of Things (IoT) relies on servers in the cloud. Corporate collaboration apps, which have proven incredibly useful with distributed workforces during the pandemic, are cloud-based. Applications and data are increasingly moved to the cloud. And try looking for an enterprise system that’s not at least partially reliant on cloud infrastructure, and you’ll be searching for a while. 

In other words, the cloud has become indispensable for all kinds of applications. But while the phrase “the cloud” summons up images of breezy, unencumbered computing (and, most of the time, it is exactly that), a slow cloud can cause all manner of problems. For a business and its users, no amount of cloud-based elasticity and ease is worth it if everything from running apps to accessing and processing data dawdles like a 1993 internet connection. For those without cloud APM, the reality of this issue can be a very real problem.

Slow clouds are bad clouds

There are multiple reasons why your cloud application could start running slowly. Local internet speed or bandwidth will have a big effect on the way that users consume cloud-based resources. However, by far the more significant bottle-neck is when there is a problem with the cloud application itself. Poorly designed applications will run slowly no matter how much theoretical speed is available to them. Similarly, if a large number of users are trying to access a specific resource at once, this can slow performance if the demand is unexpectedly large. In addition, the geographic distribution of assets can lead to latency, since this means data packets having to travel a greater distance, which takes longer.

Making slow cloud apps an even bigger problem is that, increasingly, many cloud applications and the systems that rely on them are latency sensitive. A latency sensitive application refers to one whose performance suffers — or that simply doesn’t work — when there is latency (read: delays). Email, for example, is not particularly sensitive to latency. That’s because it doesn’t make an enormous difference to the user in most cases whether their email sends within a few microseconds or takes a couple of seconds. So long as the email sends soon after the sender hits the requisite “send” button, an email system can be said to work effectively. 

However, compare that to a latency sensitive application like Voice over IP, also known as internet telephony. If one users’ voice packet takes two second to reach its destination and be heard by the recipient, the purpose of the application breaks down entirely — since any delay greater than a couple of hundred milliseconds is virtually unworkable. As the power of cloud computing has become greater, and it is used for more and more applications ranging from communication to gaming, an ever-growing number of cloud apps have become latency sensitive.

The importance of Cloud Application Performance Management

Users — and, for obvious reasons, those who are running those services — do not want slow applications, made even worse by problematic data access. Fortunately, it’s possible to monitor and optimize cloud performance to ensure that this problem doesn’t rear its ugly head. Cloud Application Performance Management (APM) can provide the visibility and control needed to ensure good cloud performance.

By taking the proper precautions, and running the right tests, organizations can be assured of how well a particular app will hold up under the rigors of the cloud environment. For anyone considering harnessing the cloud as part of their strategy (which should be just about every company worth their silicon!), cloud APM is a game-changer that can help mitigate problems before they become real-world headaches. 

If you’re serious about the cloud, cloud APM adoption is a no-brainer. Your customers will thank you for it.

Categories: Software Tech