WiFi Networks, SaaS Providers and the Challenges They Bring IT
by February 23, 2018

Filed under: Cloud Computing, Networking Technology

The cloud/SaaS honeymoon usually ends pretty quickly for IT teams supporting various cloud and SaaS applications. The loss of control over SaaS apps can be a surprise for IT, even as it also frees up time. IT team members are now at the mercy of SaaS application providers, which decide when upgrades will happen and when maintenance windows and planned outages will take place. The IT team still has to support these apps and address user issues with the apps, so IT is often stuck in the middle between the provider and the user. They’ve become the customer, with the waiting on hold that comes with it. The big shift for IT now is the idea of supporting the overall end-user experience, rather than specific tools or apps. So look at network connectivity, browsers and other steps along the way to a positive SaaS user experience as part of your SaaS support strategy.

There’s more here on the positives that businesses experience after adopting SaaS and moving to cloud. They’re results that come from shifting on-premises applications and systems offsite, and include longer device cycles and a reduced need to buy and upgrade hardware. Device maintenance time has also dropped as plug-and-play desktops and laptops become popular. IT teams can make configuration changes centrally and save a lot of time. In addition, businesses are focusing on making their networks faster to deliver these off-site apps better. One challenge that remains for IT teams in this cloud era is managing peripherals, like printers or industry-specific machines and tools. These are often Windows-only, presenting an interoperability problem.

To keep the WiFi network in particular running smoothly, check out these tips. WiFi is a touchy technology, as both IT teams and users know well. There are ways to improve WiFi that aren’t just about adding bandwidth or upgrading hardware. One big-picture tip here is to do a site survey to figure out the right locations for access points, and design with more than just coverage in mind. Other tips to improve WiFi performance: Make sure the WPA2-only setting is engaged, since older security protocols can slow the WiFi down. Encourage users to upgrade to the 5 GHz band, which isn’t as heavily used as the 2.4 GHz. Also take a look at the automatic channel settings on your access points, and change them if they don’t make sense. Disable the lowest possible data rates, too, since users on those can slow the whole network. And we highly recommend advanced monitoring tools that can spot any WiFi performance issues right away.

Finally, a few notes here on fighting the network sprawl that’s crept into many enterprises and federal agencies. The number of connected endpoints has grown hugely, adding to bandwidth demands, and network engineers are still trying to keep up. End-to-end visibility is essential in mapping the overall network and application paths (we can help you with that!) and so is a device inventory. This involves identifying every system and device and untangling how they’re all connected. Software-defined networking can also end sprawl because it eliminates the need for network provisioning and allows IT teams to create virtual networks from one physical one. It’s harder for software-managed components to get lost in the shuffle.