Is your network lagging on customer experience?

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If your company operates much of its business online and depends on the cloud to serve its customers, how much does network lag and latency affect your customers’ experience? And what impact do poor network reliability, performance and security have on their perception of your business? Remember that perception often equates to reality.

Personal, fast and easy interactions are the key to achieving great customer experience. Consequently, companies are investing in advanced cloud-based IT solutions to boost big data analytics, machine learning, AI and relationship management capabilities to achieve higher customer satisfaction and platform loyalty in the long term.

But the focus on cloud IT solutions to boost the customers’ experience of your platform often overlooks the serious challenges of ensuring your network infrastructure also contributes to that experience. In other words, the underlying network matters because network congestion, lag, and poor reliability and performance all mean that the network can fail to keep up with the demands of today’s real-time application traffic.

Network architects and engineers need to ensure their networks deliver the best experiences for customers just as much as systems engineers and software developers do for their platforms and applications.

What’s the issue for the network?

Many companies rely on the internet to reach and serve their customers, but today’s real-time applications, secure data transactions, 4K video streams and online e-sport games all demand microsecond response times and high reliability. The internet was not built with real-time data and traffic in mind. Add to this the promises of 5G and IoT and the problem can only get worse.

The process used to connect a company’s network to the internet is known as internet peering, and it uses a network protocol called Border Gateway Protocol (BGP). Even though BGP is in its 4th iteration (BGPv4), it still does not account for network link capacity and congestion, or for network latency and lag.

These issues, and the lack of visibility into them, can lead to packet loss, unpredictable end-to-end performance and less than ideal reliability – all of which can impact the customer experience. In addition, BGP is also notoriously complex to manage, with mainly manual processes often leading to “fat finger” configuration errors that can result in incorrect routes being advertised or a company’s website becoming unreachable.

Make your network smarter and more automated

So, what is the key to overcoming these internet peering challenges? Better network traffic visibility, optimization and closed-loop automation. The latest internet peering solutions automate the traffic engineering process by configuring network paths depending on traffic flow and volume, available bandwidth and application latency needs.

These solutions also monitor the network using powerful network analytics and cloud intelligence to manage and re-direct peering traffic to overcome network lag and congestion. For example, by dynamically moving application traffic from over-utilized links to under-utilized ones.

The difference for your customers and their customer experience can be significant. Automated peering has been shown to reduce end-to-end application latency by up to 30 percent, helping to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty. When your business depends on seamless data transactions and uninterrupted customer experiences, these percentages equate to milliseconds that make all the difference.

Protect your peering edge

While most security solutions focus on end-point security to protect servers, platforms and applications, protecting the network and specifically the peering edge that connects these resources to the internet is often overlooked. Terabit level Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, as well as network route sniffing, route hijacking and revelation of network topologies, are all real threats to networks, businesses and their customers.

A recent survey by Neustar security shows that organisations can expect a cost of $2.5 million due to DDoS each time they fall victim to attack – with that figure set to grow. As cyber criminals get smarter, your network needs to stay one step ahead. Robust network security – particularly at the peering edge that connects your business to the internet – provides network-wide perimeter protection. It is the only way to ensure a safe experience for your customers and to maintain their trust in your business.

Secure, automated peering for your network

Automated peering with DDoS protection uses real-time network analytics with cloud context and software-defined, closed-loop control to monitor and detect network congestion, latency and security threats on the peering links that connect your business to the internet.

It instantly recognizes network latency and congestion and redirects selected traffic flows to use alternative peering links or routers to maintain application performance. It also monitors, detects and mitigates against DDoS threats to protect your business and customers. Steering and protecting peering traffic at the right time, in the right place and in the right way creates the safe and seamless experiences your customers demand.

Ensuring your IT platform and applications deliver great customer experiences all the time, every time is a top priority. But it’s vital to ensure your network infrastructure also plays its part in achieving the highest customer satisfaction and loyalty. Secure, automated peering engineering helps to overcome network lag, congestion, and poor reliability and performance, ensuring your network delivers the best experiences for your customers just as much as your platform and applications.

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