Network teams face many challenges when tasked with delivering applications at the speed of business demand. Increased complexity of application delivery infrastructure along with the growing demand for business agility are significantly impeding on the traditional way of managing ADCs. As new ADC agility initiatives evolve, so should your approach to ADC management. In this guide, we will examine the advantages to embracing an advanced ADC management and automation solution.
Today, network teams are judged based on how they enable digital transformation. Every day they are faced with the daunting task of delivering new applications and technologies that both improve productivity and lower costs. On top of these pressures, they are expected to be more agile than their competitors as they respond to rapidly changing business needs.
Unfortunately, existing manual methods are perceived as major roadblocks to innovation and business agility. This is particularly true when it comes to addressing dynamic change requests related to application delivery infrastructures. When an enterprise rolls out a new application, it can take weeks to create application delivery controller (ADC) configurations, significantly slowing time to market. Although the industry saw many technological advancements last year – including the introduction of more agile ADC deployment methods (software ADCs, cloud solutions, etc) – network teams are still working to improve, and the solution is clear: centralized management and automation.
In the upcoming year, successfully building more agile infrastructure will hinge on the centralized management and automation of the ADC environment. By abiding the advanced ADC management and automation best practices outlined below, organizations can dramatically improve business agility without sacrificing efficiency. Taking a more centralized approach presents a simple framework for automating repeatable processes, and allows application and network teams to collaborate effectively to move faster, enforce compliance, eliminate errors and reduce cost
In this guide, we will:
- Review the challenges associated with managing application delivery infrastructure
- Explain how a centralized approach to managing ADCs helps to address these challenges
- Examine the advantages to embracing an advanced ADC management and automation solution
Why It Isn’t Easy to Manage Application Delivery Infrastructure
Application services are the fuel that keep applications continuously running 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And according to F5’s “The State of Application Delivery in 2017” report1, load balancing is one of the top five most-deployed application services. Delivering application services faster requires a strong understanding of ADC change and compliance requirements, coping with constant change requests, and coordinating the efforts of multiple network and application teams, all while mitigating the other challenges associated with operating in today’s digital age.
To ensure flexible business application delivery, enterprises are expanding their ADC portfolios by adding devices, moving to the cloud or adopting software-based solutions. However, as the number of devices increases to match application traffic, so do the number of challenges associated with management, logistics, troubleshooting, and so on.
Dynamic change requests
Given applications are now the core of digital businesses, it is no surprise that network teams are being bombarded with hundreds of ADC change requests per week. . In order to create new applications or modify existing ones, network teams must carefully analyze traffic flow before performing certain actions on a virtual server. This inevitably delays ADC deployment.
Need for multiple compliance checks
Network teams are required to adhere to their organization’s strict standards, and compliance issues are at the root of deployment delays. To enforce these compliance policies, network teams must create and manage ADC configurations specifically designed to comply with organizational requirements.
Network and Application teams don’t collaborate
Application and network teams are known to work in silos, which delays service delivery (oftentimes by multiple weeks) and results in revenue loss for the enterprise. This is mostly due to the use of different tools by different teams, which operate under different topologies. Also, network teams are not typically involved in the initial stages of business decisions.
The Centralized Approach to Managing ADCs
Though many enterprises have adopted automation in some form or fashion, most of them still approach ADC management manually. They jump to address the deployment needs of business-critical applications and have very little time left to maintain network maps, optimize configurations or to validate post-deployment. They are also tasked with addressing dozens of daily change requests.
According to a recent ADC survey by ZK research2, most network functions can be provisioned quickly, but provisioning core ADC features still presents a challenge.
The research also notes that the lag in ADC change management is impacting application rollouts. In fact, 67% of respondents say lack of automation creates delays.
Network teams are faced with the difficult task of managing complex networks and dynamic application infrastructure. In order to face the challenges described here head on, they must adopt a more centralized approach or risk being left behind. An ADC automation and management solution integrated with DDI and ITSM systems can automate the entire change workflow and address common challenges by:
- Introducing consistent change management controls and enforcing deployment standards to address various application deployment scenarios.
- Standardizing service offerings to quickly address change requests.
- Automating configuration change requests to enable faster, more efficient delivery.
- Maintaining an optimized ADC deployment process and bridging the gap between network and application teams.
Advanced ADC Management and Automation for the Application Delivery Platforms of the Future
AppViewX’s Application Delivery Automation solution provides role-based management, automation, and orchestration of multi-vendor ADC environments that serve mode 1 and mode 2 applications across data centers. It offers state-of-the-art management capabilities that map to the needs of application owners, network engineers, and network operations. It simplifies version upgrades and enables self-service capabilities to different lines of business. The AppViewX Platform supports A10 Networks, Akamai, Amazon Web Services (ELB), Avi Networks, Brocade, Cisco, Citrix, F5 Networks, HAProxy, NGINX and Radware.
Move faster by Automating ADC Services
The only way IT organizations can address the complexity issues caused by the rapid change of today’s application infrastructure is through automation. Without automation and visibility, most of the requests violate the SLA before network teams even know they exist.
- AppViewX’s Application Delivery Automation solution makes it easy to provision, maintain and decommission applications across data centers through integration with ITSM and other third party systems. It accelerates delivery through automation workflows, and arms application teams with self-servicing
- The application topology provides a comprehensive view into application infrastructure, allowing application and network teams to troubleshoot faster.
- The platform allows teams to schedule their back-ups, or trigger them on an on-demand basis. It also allows users to create workflows to automate the entire version upgrade process.
Enforce Compliance through Configuration Validation
Organizations strive for agility and efficiency, but even despite their best efforts, growing business demand puts the quality of their delivery at risk. Oftentimes, change management is inconsistent across domains due to manual mistakes and the lack of a centralized console
- AppViewX’s Application Delivery Automation solution enables efficient service delivery, reduces risk and ensures compliance with regulatory standards. It automates routine changes and processes (such as validations) and standardizes configuration formats and deployment processes to make management easy.
- It allows teams to validate whether applications are performing as they should. Everything from simple commands like “curl” to complex Python scripts can be defined.
- Post-validation serves as a sanity test to ensure applications are delivering as expected.
Eliminate Errors by Removing Manual Touch Points
The limitations of manual ADC management cause teams to fall even further behind in the application deployment process, often resulting in errors or outages. With the help of an automation solution, enterprises can improve time to market and minimize the overall management burden on IT personnel.
- AppViewX’s Application Delivery Automation solution reduces manual touch points and eliminates the opportunity for errors caused by manual intervention.
- It offers prepackaged automation workflows used to create or modify a virtual server, ensuring quick and error-free application deployment.
- It streamlines business processes by encouraging cross-team collaboration, further assisting in the avoidance of costly errors.
Reduce Cost by Embracing Agile ADC Deployment
Network teams are embracing software-based ADC platforms for numerous reasons, including rapid deployment, cost-effective infrastructure, on-demand scaling and more.
- AppViewX’s Application Delivery Automation solution is the industry’s first platform designed to manage, automate and orchestrate best-in-class and open-source ADC services.
- It allows application teams to modify and reuse existing configurations to address redundant requests, helping to close the margin of error and save time.
- Adoption of self-servicing and automation reduces ticket volumes, ultimately helping to control IT costs.
As digital businesses continue to evolve, so does the role of application delivery controllers. As these responsibilities become even more crucial, organizations must turn to automation, orchestration and software-based ADCs to properly address digitalization needs.
However, even as modernized IT infrastructures emerge to help manage new business demands, a new set of management challenges remain. Managing a complex application delivery infrastructure is difficult, and it becomes even harder when more devices are added or modified in a dynamic way across traditional and non-traditional ADCs. This only emphasizes the need for a comprehensive tool that bridges the gap between the different ADC services and business applications.
Solutions that can extend visibility, automate application services, enable backups, restore configurations, and provide role-based access control (RBAC) across complex ADC infrastructure are more important than ever before.