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Three Insights from AWS re:Invent 2017 on Enterprise Cloud Journeys

Riverbed Technology December 4, 2017

Last week some Riverbed colleagues and I attended the 2017 edition of AWS re:Invent in Las Vegas. As a first-time attendee, the sheer scale of the event mesmerized me.

Riverbed cloud networking and cloud visibility at re:Invent
AWS re:Invent attendees at the Riverbed booth receive demos of our powerful cloud networking and visibility solutions.

Event activities spanned expo halls at five different Vegas hotels. And overall, 40,000+ AWS cloud enthusiasts converged on the Vegas Strip for a week’s worth of educational sessions, labs, and more.

One thing became abundantly clear: AWS is not relinquishing its position as the public cloud leader any time soon. That’s perhaps best exemplified by both the rapid increase in event attendance, as well as AWS’ 50+ product announcements.

Riverbed was on hand as a Gold Sponsor at AWS re:Invent 2017. This year, we showcased our cloud networking and cloud visibility solutions, which help companies successfully plan, migrate, adopt, and continuously optimize the performance of their AWS deployments.

At the Riverbed booth, we had hundreds of insightful conversations with attendees regarding their cloud transformation journeys. And while the topics varied a bit, they can perhaps best be distilled down into the three following insights.

1. Cloud visibility is key throughout the migration process and beyond

Visibility is key to successful cloud migration
Gaining end-to-end visibility across apps, networks, infrastructure, and end-user devices will drive a successful move to the cloud.

Let me start by highlighting some conversations with attendees who are just getting their feet wet with AWS and the cloud. For these companies, one question popped up repeatedly: how can I ensure migration success?

At Riverbed, we start by prescribing a three-step process:

  1. Baseline performance for the on-premises application: Having an idea of what normal behavior looks like for your current on-premises applications will pay dividends on a post-migration basis. That way you can tell if performance has improved or, at the very least, remained the same. This also gives you an opportunity to map current application dependencies, so that when the migration begins, the chances of breaking something along the deliver chain are significantly reduced.
  2. Monitor performance during the migration itself: By continuing to monitor performance during the migration process, you can quickly jump on issues before or as they arise. That way, you can resolve problems before users notify the support desk that an application has become unavailable, is suffering from a slowdown, etc. This can help cut technical costs tied to the migration and keep the project on schedule.
  3. Continuously monitor for ongoing improvements: Once the application is fully migrated, the job is not done. It’s imperative to compare performance to that pre-move baseline and, where performance has suffered, take steps to improve it. After all, users will be apprehensive about adopting the new cloud-based app if their experience isn’t at least equivalent to what it was when the app was on-prem.

What underpins all of these steps? Cloud-enabled visibility and performance monitoring. To that end, Riverbed SteelCentral provides complete visibility from user devices all the way up to the AWS cloud. Harnessing these powerful performance diagnostics is critical for ensuring a successful migration and ongoing cloud performance.

Related reading: 7 common pitfalls to avoid when migrating applications to the cloud

2. Cloud networking can help you take control of your AWS VPCs

Let’s switch gears to attendees who were a bit farther into their cloud journeys. A challenge these folks often encounter deals with connectivity. More specifically, extending their branch networks into AWS, and then managing their Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) connections with ease.

Today's networks are complex, insecure, and unpredictable
Customers need a networking solution that is equally as cloud driven as the rest of their AWS-hosted infrastructures.

Relying on outdated networking approaches simply won’t cut it. With business leaders demanding more cloud-based services, relying on routers and CLI won’t scale. And, even so, it isn’t easy to manage connectivity between all your physical locations and across AWS regions.

At AWS re:Invent, we showed customers a whole new way of networking for the cloud. Riverbed SteelConnect is a cloud networking and SD-WAN solution that reduces the complexity of designing, deploying, and managing today’s cloud-connected networks.

More specifically, it allows today’s cloud architects and network engineers to create full-mesh VPNs to all VPCs with just a few clicks. This includes the ability to streamline connections among VPCs in the same AWS regions (known as AWS VPC Transit Peering).

With SteelConnect, there is no CLI or manual deployment of appliances on AWS. To learn more, check out Angelo Comazzetto’s presentation that shows how SteelConnect gives cloud engineers networking super powers.

If Angelo’s presentation wasn’t enough to convince you of SteelConnect’s power, how about a customer anecdote? Imagine your company’s data solutions are instrumental to supporting others’ commerce solutions. Now imagine it’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday. What would happen if your global network went down over the weekend due to a significant surge in traffic and demand for your solutions?

This happened to one Riverbed customer, who shared his story with us at re:Invent. Fortunately, with AWS and SteelConnect, he was able to bring up a network within an hour or two, restoring services, saving his company’s reputation, and making him a hero.

3. User experience is still the Holy Grail in the cloud

Let’s close with something that will remain essential regardless of where you are in your cloud journey: user experience. As I mentioned earlier, if user experience for cloud-hosted apps is subpar, your employees, customers, and other users will revolt. OK, maybe it’s not that dire. But your user satisfaction levels will take a hit, as will your company’s ability to engage customers and generate revenue.

User experience is still the Holy Grail in the cloud and digital era
Users will expect a cloud experience that is more satisfactory than what they’re accustomed to with your on-premises apps.

Now, whether you’re lifting and shifting legacy applications, or developing new apps natively in AWS, you need the ability to measure the business impact of such changes. Are you prepared to do so?

Moreover, in terms of user adoption—how are you leveraging that user data to identify areas for ongoing improvements? What features are being underutilized? Which transactions are critical for the business, yet are most problematic? Having these types of insights provide DevOps-oriented teams with critical feedback loops for better product roadmap planning and ongoing development.

Once again, visibility is key here. With the right end-user experience monitoring tool, you can monitor your apps from the point of consumption—mobile devices desktops, laptops, etc.—and also translate such usage into productivity, financial, and other business-relevant impacts.

Lastly, developers building new software in AWS need validation those capabilities will work for users as intended. But hoping everything goes well when you push code into production won’t suffice (hope is not a strategy, as the adage goes).

To that end, leveraging Riverbed APM solutions can provide you with powerful diagnostics so you can continuously monitor the performance of your code—during development, builds, and into production and beyond.

Related reading: Riverbed solutions for DevOps help you become more efficient with software delivery

Thanks for connecting with us at AWS re:Invent, now let us help you transform!

I want to close by personally thanking everyone who connected with us at AWS re:Invent. Your interest and enthusiasm helped make this a wildly successful event for both Riverbed and AWS.

Remember: we’re here to help you take the next steps of your cloud transformation journeys, and we look forward to connecting again soon!

Attendees in Riverbed's booth at AWS re:Invent
Dozens of attendees gather at the Riverbed booth at AWS re:Invent for our daily giveaway.

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