With the onset of digitalization, application delivery as we know it is undergoing a radical transformation. Traditional application infrastructures are coming up short as the needs of digital business leaders continue to shift. Luckily, new, more advanced deployment models are on the rise, helping NetOps to transform.
Continuous application delivery practices adopted by agile DevOps teams are becoming central to successful businesses. As DevOps become more and more mainstream, many organizations are showing interest in “non-traditional” ADCs including NGINX, HAProxy and Amazon’s ELB. Even more traditional ADC vendors like F5, A10 and Kemp are offering lightweight load balancers or cloud-native ADCs to address the changing trends. However, even despite the benefits boasted by newer models, dedicated ADC hardware is still the preferred platform for application delivery.
To stay ahead of the curve, application-centric organizations are finding the solution lies in supporting both traditional and non-traditional ADCs. The introduction of open-source software has not affected the steady use of more traditional ADCs. Instead, organizations are considering a combination of both services to build a more agile infrastructure.
However, adopting this broader mix of tools presents its own set of challenges. This white paper examines the ADC market evolution, challenges of managing both non-traditional and traditional ADCs and advantages of an ADC management and automation tool to address the challenges.
Evolution of ADC Market
From retail to financial services to healthcare and more, hundreds of web servers sit behind a business’s applications to handle multiple customer requests simultaneously. An application delivery controller (ADC) sits between the end-customer and your servers to manage this traffic. ADCs are becoming a key component of the network as they deliver the business-critical web application to your end-customers.
Over the past decade, application delivery networking has drastically evolved. Perhaps most notably, load balancing has completely transformed into the advanced Application Delivery Controller (ADC) market we know today. The impact of digitalization on the ADC market has opened doors for platform services, cloud-native ADC solutions and open-source load balancing software services.
Now, the ADC market is in another state of transition with the growing divide between traditional infrastructure and operations (I&O) and a new app-centric approach. Application owners facing new levels of demand can no longer wait on the traditional change management process, and instead opt for ADC services that are faster to deploy. But, for critical applications that call for more stability, they choose to deploy in traditional environments to ensure availability and security.
It’s becoming clear that many enterprises are seeking the optimal heterogeneous ADC environment that is both secure and dynamic, stable and agile. From a management standpoint, this approach presents both new benefits and new challenges.
Advantages of Embracing Software Load Balancers
The most important driver for today’s more agile initiatives is the need to bring unprecedented numbers of new applications to market at the speed of digitalization. According to Gartner¬2, through the end of 2016, 98% of Mode 2 applications will be deployed either with nontraditional ADCs or without any ADC at all. The flexibility inherent in a software-based load balancer makes it easy to deploy in almost any environment or scenario. Clearly, the IT world is embracing software-based platforms and the numerous advantages they present.
The application deployment process over software load balancing services is both simple and straightforward: download, configure, test and deploy. And, open APIs enable easier integration with any solution used in existing application delivery infrastructure. This enables both rapid and efficient delivery of new applications.
Millions of users are using an increasing number of devices to access applications in real-time. Software load balancers are built to address the needs presented by this new level of demand. Dynamic business requests can be deployed across any environment — whether on-premise, private cloud, public cloud or a hybrid environment.
The software-based approach allows DevOps to tailor the deployment process to its business’s needs, lowering costs by matching demand.
Software load balancers do not require separate web and application servers. They support existing infrastructure instead of calling for more, keeping the user’s investment in mind. The same can be said for application deployment in test environments, making software load balancers the cost-effective choice. They also enable much faster deployment times, which naturally cuts costs.
Challenges of Managing Heterogeneous ADC Environments
Non-traditional ADCs deliver much faster applications, promising increased agility for developers and business users without compromising availability. However, these non-traditional ADCs are not a replacement for legacy ADCs. To adequately address digitalization demands, NetOps need an efficient blend of both legacy ADCs and software load balancers in their infrastructure. But, DevOps and NetOps teams must be prepared for a new set of challenges that comes managing a heterogeneous ADC environment.
Legacy ADCs can be complex and must be managed to protect against costly errors. That need for oversight increases exponentially when combined with software-based ADCs. Software load balancers can help DevOps make great strides when it comes to network agility. But, without sound automated ADC management, the heterogeneous environment can introduce a new level of complexity leading to security issues.
Managing ADCs serving mode 1 and mode 2 production applications is a difficult and daunting task. ADC environments are subject to frequent changes, however it often takes several days (or more) to implement the necessary configuration changes in a Greenfield or Brownfield environment. This results mounting unfulfilled change requests, which delay time to market.
Lack of Centralized Management
The shift toward more app-centric business models is driving organizations away from traditional methods of ADC management. The rapid growth of newly deployed apps is taking place in global locations or in the cloud. The proper rollout of these numerous applications requires a centralized management, automation, orchestration and monitoring tool. Rapidly instantiating these apps requires a self-provisioning portal.
Overcoming the Challenges to Managing Application Delivery Platforms
The ADC market is bifurcating, presenting a new and challenging situation for NetOps teams. Enterprises are starting to deploy applications using both legacy and non-legacy ADC services, creating a need for a new method for network infrastructure management and automation. Managing a heterogeneous environment is difficult, and it becomes even harder when more devices are added or modified in a dynamic way. 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 become more important than ever before.
Enterprises should invest in advanced ADC management and automation tools to efficiently deliver applications across newly adopted heterogeneous environment. An advanced ADC management and automation solution provides:
- Consistent and controlled management and automation of ADCs that are serving both mode 1 and mode 2 applications across data centers.
- The ability to build an agile data center, ensure application availability and deliver applications at scale.
- Ownership of load balancing to application teams.
Comprehensive 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 align with the needs of the business. Application Delivery Automation solution supports seven of top ten ADC players and is the industry’s first platform to manage, automate and orchestrate best-in-class and open-source ADC services.
- Manage, automate, and orchestrate ADC application services across geographically distributed environments
- Start creating more agile application delivery by building a bimodal infrastructure
- Increase operational efficiency by enabling seamless collaboration among cross-functional teams
- Reduce manual configuration errors across the network by more than 70 percent
- Increase visibility across the application delivery infrastructure
- Reduce risk and ensure compliance with application-centric service alerting and centralized reporting
- Upgrade seamlessly to the latest ADC versions and reduce average delivery time from days to minutes
Organizations are modernizing their application delivery infrastructure by embracing a blend of open-source, cloud-native solutions and legacy platform services. By adopting a combination of traditional and non-traditional ADCs, DevOps are finding new ways to improve agility, scalability and cost-effectiveness.
Manually managing a heterogeneous infrastructure can be both complex and difficult, opening the door for more harm than good. With literally hundreds (or even thousands) of applications distributed across geographical locations, teams must optimize and centralize the delivery of ADC services.
Given the tremendous scale and complexity involved, NetOps and DevOps teams should invest in ADC management and automation tools to centrally control and configure ADCs, providing detailed visibility and analytics to ensure the most superior user experience.