Cloud service performance: how mobile use complicates outcomes


Our everyday digital lives are now closely tied to cloud services – the overall usability of a cloud service can make our day – or cause endless frustration. This usability of the apps and services we use through the day is, however, very sensitive to the performance of the cloud infrastructure and the internet connectivity from the cloud all the way to us, as consumers.

Great user interfaces and beautiful graphics become useless if the data does not flow uninterrupted between the consumer and the cloud.

Mobile use habits complicate the cloud performance picture

The internet backbone and the performance of the cloud facilities hosting these services are at the core of a smooth digital experience. However, there is an additional factor as we complete more and more of our daily tasks using smart phones.

By definition, smart phones are mobile and mostly serviced by cellular networks. Wi-Fi does play a role, too, but often the most critical tasks are done over cellular, while less critical apps and services can be deferred to situations where Wi-Fi is available.

If the digital service is not performing as expected users quickly become frustrated. A cloud provider may see an issue when the service is used: a momentary drop in connectivity or an even longer gap. Is there a network performance problem somewhere, or is something else to blame?

Untangling cloud performance issues on mobile devices

Cloud providers and network operators will want to know why a cloud service does not perform as expected. The cloud vendor does not want to lose customers when its not at fault, while the network operator wants to ensure a smooth experience of its users.

Some issues are entirely in the realm of the cloud vendor and its direct suppliers:

      •  There could be a resource shortage in the capacity allocated in the cloud – the app simply cannot access server resources in a timely manner

      •  Latency introduced by the physical location of the user – where distance between the user and the app’s hosting service is simply too far, e.g. customers from Asia are served from the other side of the planet

      •  There is simply some other cloud service issue: it’s a buggy app, there’s a DoS attack in progress – or something else unrelated to connectivity

However, mobile networks and mobile devices can of course cause issues with cloud services that is no fault of the app developer or cloud service vendor. Think for example:

      •  The peering links from the cloud to the ISP of affected customers may be insufficient: particularly with bandwidth intensive apps like video, bandwidth restrictions due to limited peering can cause issues

      •  A certain device model is producing problems (e.g. after a software update)

      •  There is congestion on the cellular network in a specific location, or more broadly – in effect, the network operator is to blame

      •  Consumers are trying to access high-bandwidth services such as HD video in areas that are still restricted to 2G or 3G data

It’s clear there are plenty of reasons why a cloud service can perform poorly – or not at all – on a mobile device.

Troubleshooting cloud performance on mobile

The list of points above are some of the questions the Netradar Mobile SDK can answer out of the box. Because the Netradar SDK gathers performance metrics right from the mobile app we can assess the performance of the cloud and flesh out issues with respect to ISP performance or the last mile link – indeed determine whether cellular networks are causing performance problems. In turn, we can suggest and help perform the necessary fixes to maintain perfect app and service experience.

The Netradar SDK can assists critical cloud and B2B services, as well as mobile gaming where users can be very sensitive to the performance of the game. Whether B2B or gaming – we know that any hiccups can lead to churn.

Irritated users easily switch: switching to a competing B2B cloud vendor – or simply playing a different game. (As a side note, as an active mobile gamer myself, the performance of the whole system from cloud to consumer is always visible, and I can easily distinguish those issues that are local to me, from the issues that are clearly based on the cloud servers.)

So, if you want to prevent your users from switching you need more analytics and assurance about the whole service pipeline, from content to consumer. Netradar can deliver that: get in touch and we’ll outline how the Netradar SDK can pin down the common problems experienced by mobile users of cloud apps.

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