The evolution of Application Delivery Services

By Brent Lees, Senior Product Manager at Riverbed Technology

Application delivery controllers (ADCs) are now essential for business-critical applications, managing fast-changing transaction loads, and enhancing performance, resilience and security. However, many online applications change frequently to reflect customer requirements, and the increasing speed of change in application deployment means that traditional ADC architectures can hold back the pace of change.

So, enterprises rolling out private clouds still face several technology and operations limitations today as a result of their static legacy application delivery infrastructures. These are a bottleneck in virtualised data centres and cloud environments, hampering IT’s ability to orchestrate and manage their application delivery services.

Moving to an on-demand platform for application delivery “ADC-as-a-service” can transform an Enterprise or Cloud Operator by providing the tools and technology to deploy and manage a dynamic and elastic application delivery infrastructure.

From a management standpoint, ADC-as-a-service delivers better ROI by aligning the application delivery costs with the a more usage-based business model, and helping any provider automatically provision, deploy, license, meter and manage their application inventory on-demand.

Enterprises should be able to provide infrastructure with increased flexibility and agility. ADC-as-a-service enables customers to have their demand for additional capacity or advanced services met at any time. In addition, they benefit from an enriched user experienced with per-application tuning.

The current ADC-as-a-service ‘state of play’

In today’s enterprise IT landscape, an ADC-as-a-Service platform is a compelling proposition. Implemented and rolled out correctly, ADC-as-a-service enables any cloud provider to automatically provision, deploy, license and meter application delivery services and resources anywhere in their network, data centre or end-user premises. Enterprises will also be able to do this on-demand, with high-density multi-tenancy, full isolation and with enhanced scalability.

Data centres becoming more cloud aware

ADC as-a-service provides organisations with a significant opportunity to improve management and automation across the data centre, enabling improved resource utilisation and a more dynamic and flexible environment, while reducing the cost and complexity to manage data centre infrastructure itself. 

With virtualisation and the emergence of the software-defined network and data centre architectures, tremendous opportunities are unleashed at the application delivery layer. As applications get even more distributed, virtualised, and also pushed into the cloud, they become more dynamic and are able to leverage the higher-density compute fabric available in this virtualised environment. With these improvements in the underlying cloud infrastructure, it stands to reason that these old rules about application delivery should be reconsidered.

Business and operations challenges

Ultimately, a move to an ADC-as-a-Service model will be driven by business priorities, and will be guided by more than a desire to streamline IT resources. One of the most compelling reasons for moving to the cloud is elasticity—IT resources can automatically scale up and down as required by the business. By eliminating the risks of under-provisioning and the costs of over-provisioning, there are even more significant and sustained benefits.

Running applications from an enterprise-grade cloud reduces the cost of complex and expensive hardware, by moving to an infrastructure architecture based on commodity components. Shedding much of the costs of delivering services enables you to provide your customers with a much richer user experience, and access to a greater variety of apps and services. And in the cloud, developers can move to a more agile development process, with the opportunity to test new ideas more quickly and address issues before the application has been moved to production.

The evolution of App delivery services

Applications undergo constant evolution, and there is a clear trend towards rapid development, with development teams and applications distributed processing across multiple locations. Application delivery solutions must similarly evolve to meet the requirements of large-scale distributed processing readily available in the cloud.

Yesterday’s load balancers and traditional application delivery controllers are not designed for the cloud. Only a modern, cloud-ready application delivery solution can help enterprises make this shift – software-based ADCs have emerged as the right solution for cloud-based application deployments.

Software ADCs are designed for virtualisation and cloud portability. Pure software solutions enable high-velocity application development, and enable a more flexible application delivery strategy. It’s the foundation of a true opex-centric resource model and one which IT managers should seriously consider to stay abreast of the ever-changing landscape.


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