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How to Uncover Your SaaS App Problems
They don’t need to be mysterious. Here’s how to get the insight you need into all your apps—whether on-premises or off.

It wasn’t long ago that the average company adopting SaaS applications was a small or midsize organization, mainly because smaller companies could get a lot more for their IT operating expense dollars with off-premises, easy-to-deploy solutions that grew with them. Since then, there’s been a shift, and SaaS has become the standard for many larger companies implementing business applications or services. Even the largest companies in the world are now adopting SaaS applications and services, including Salesforce, Microsoft applications like Office 365, traditional ERP systems such as those from Oracle and SAP, and other applications that make up the foundation of businesses.

But what’s actually happening with those applications’ performance and their related user experiences has remained a mystery to many of the IT teams tasked with monitoring them. That’s a problem, because IT is still responsible for making sure those applications are performing well and meeting users’ needs. The tools that IT teams have traditionally had for application monitoring aren’t designed for monitoring SaaS applications. Those tools can monitor internal applications by looking at servers and devices on the network to make sure they are functioning properly—but SaaS applications aren’t on that network. They are run over the Internet and delivered through the cloud. The IT team needs another way to make sure that a SaaS application is working properly.

Getting to Better App Experiences

There are a couple of steps to take to get to the root of how SaaS applications are performing.

1. Measure the actual end-user experience.

Getting under the surface of a SaaS application can reveal some unexpected glitches. Once IT teams start monitoring SaaS applications, they may find that the service is functioning properly, but running slower than users expect. It’s also possible to see if any part of an app isn’t working at all, or if it’s not working up to expectations or SLA goals. SaaS applications contain microservices each performing their own task, and if you’re not monitoring each of those microservices, you can easily miss performance gaps. Application performance monitoring tools that can emulate synthetic transactions let you directly measure how long it takes to perform common actions. For example, you could see how long account activation might take from day to day. To do this accurately, you would need to make as realistic a representation of the actual user experience as possible, with synthetic monitoring traveling the actual application delivery path used.

2. Identify what is competing for resources with your SaaS app.

Local network congestion is a huge issue for businesses today. Critical apps are now served up via the internet, but those critical apps are competing with recreational apps. A user streaming music or using an iPhone with company WiFi will consume more bandwidth than 20 sales people on Salesforce, and the network is going to treat them exactly the same. In a web-based world, it’s important to identify which applications are on your network and where your resources are being consumed. Then you can determine if any of the apps consuming capacity shouldn’t be on the network.

3. Hold your ISP accountable and fix network problems.

If you’re not getting what you’re paying for from your ISP or your network isn’t configured properly, that can have an immediate effect on every single 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 like Salesforce 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 users. When these capabilities are integrated in one place, it allows you to focus on how the application is functioning, rather than the individual technologies that support the application.

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