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SaaS applications and internet performance & costs | IOA Knowledge Base Community

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SaaS applications and internet performance & costs

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  • rmeyer


    any insights or advice when using SaaS apps across enterprise (like WebEx or Salesforce)?  I’ve found that connecting to IaaS providers like AWS and Azure a lot more straightforward because they provide some sort of declared space in an actual geographic region. The SaaS services are just more ambiguous.

    thanks in advance!

  • paulmason

    Great observation. I’ve always approached IaaS providers as if they were just another data center that belonged to my organization. With that approach, while the transport mechanism and some of the network devices may vary, the end goal is the same: establish connectivity over the desired path and ensure redundancy and high availability. But to your point, SaaS is much more difficult to find a classical analog to.


    When you think of a SaaS like Salesforce or WebEx, it’s important to remember they were designed to be accessed over the Internet first. Their network engineers, whom I’ve been fortunate enough to work closely with, have spent years optimizing the Internet ingress from their uses by following a few key principles:

    • Expand their network reach via Points-of Presence (PoPs) to shrink the distance between them and their users
    • Within the PoPs, peer with as many networks possible to increase access to their users
    • Build a reliable and performant back-bone between their data centers and the PoPs and from PoP to PoP to ensure they can optimize traffic flow


    As a result, these SaaS providers have created a presence on the Internet which enables them to be closer to their users in order to provide better access. Sound familiar? The SaaS strategy for improved network connectivity is really the inspiration for the IOA Network Blueprint.


    So how do you take advantage of the way that SaaS has optimized their Internet presence to boost performance and security for your users while decreasing bandwidth costs? The answer is to optimize your own Internet presence.


    Because the SaaS providers have invested so much into their network build outs and are constantly optimizing their service, your goal should be to hand the traffic off your network to the SaaS provider’s network as soon as possible. To do this, follow the IOA network blueprint steps:

    1. Localize and Optimize traffic by establishing PoPs (also called Performance Hubs) in locations near your users
    2. Segment your traffic flows to carve off Internet bound SaaS traffic from internal traffic flows
    3. Offload Internet from these PoPs so that you minimize the length of time the traffic sits on your network and maximize the benefits of the other guy’s network (in this case the SaaS provider’s)
    4. Connect directly with the SaaS from within the PoP when they are available in the data center (for example Salesforce offers their Express Connect service on the ECX Fabric)


    Good news is that while optimizing connectivity to SaaS requires a different thinking than connecting to IaaS, most of the basic constructs stay the same. As always, engage with the experts if you have any more questions!

    Paul Mason Senior Principal Solutions Architect EQUINIX | One Lagoon Drive, Redwood City, CA 94065 E pmason@equinix.com| T +1 650 598 6406 M +1 408 909 8915
     · Snarkier and urchin22 like this.
  • rmeyer

    this is helpful insight - thanks!  you've also provided a good basic checklist when selecting SaaS providers. If there are any other things to consider in selection, would be good to hear your thoughts. 


  • paulmason

    You bet.

    So when working with SaaS providers I stress the importance of trying to understand your traffic flows which is basically where are your users, and where are they going.

    See if your SaaS provider can give you detail about how their services are delivered to you, i.e. where does your SaaS instance live.

    Consider how you will deal with redundancy and path failures. Will you build redundant connections across different geographies? Or will you use the internet as a backup? Both?

    And finally, when you do go to implement, try to do it during a maintenance window and be prepared to test to ensure you haven't accidentally cut off access to your users. Be prepared to roll-back if need be.

    Paul Mason Senior Principal Solutions Architect EQUINIX | One Lagoon Drive, Redwood City, CA 94065 E pmason@equinix.com| T +1 650 598 6406 M +1 408 909 8915
     · urchin22 likes this.
  • rmeyer

    Great advice - I'll take it.

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