Seamlessly Deliver Applications Across Multi-Vendor Infrastructures

Data centers continue to expand in size and complexity to meet changing demands brought on by the digital revolution. Especially with growing heterogeneity, the IT community is seeing a radical shift toward automation.

Manually deploying an application is an error-prone process that involves multiple tasks, several teams and multiple requests. The different IT operations teams involved tend to work in their own silos, making this process inefficient and often delayed. Today, CIOs are looking for solutions. They’re demanding more collaboration and encouraging investment in orchestration tools that bridge IT silos and consolidate tools and scripts.

As a result, enterprises are beginning to rely on advanced automation and orchestration solutions. With the right solution in place, users can quickly, simply, and reliably develop, deploy, and manage network and application services. This solution guide examines how an orchestration platform solves the challenges facing IT.

The Bottleneck: Network Complexity Slows Down IT Service Delivery

As the internet becomes more and more complex, so do the networks enterprises are tasked with managing. The growing number of networking features, device configurations and firewall configurations are creating new challenges for NetOps teams. And, because multiple siloed teams are involved in the process, it becomes difficult to gain a complete view of these complex infrastructures

It is easy to simply say that application deployment should be faster. But, it is another thing to actually speed up the process. Slowly but surely, enterprises are realizing that given the rising levels of heterogeneity and complexity, it is impossible to achieve quicker application delivery using a traditional manual approach.

Enterprises manage new IT requests or changes using methods like ITIL. They use ITSM tools, such as BMC Remedy, ServiceNow and external ticketing systems, to manage changes for the entire infrastructure stack. When an application team is tasked with deploying a new application, NetOps receives change requests at several layers in the infrastructure (application delivery controllers, security devices, cloud, certificate authorities, DNS servers, routers/switches, etc.).

Meanwhile, network engineering teams are often facing many other incident-management issues. Application and network teams are known to work in silos, which delays service delivery (often times by multiple weeks) and results in revenue loss for the enterprise.

Choosing the Right Approach to Multi-Vendor Management

The limitations of manual management are clear. As the business need for high-performance applications continues to grow, enterprises that rely on traditional, manual processes will only fall farther behind in their ability to deploy applications quickly, limit errors and any resulting outages, reduce time to market, and minimize the overall management burden on IT resources. Because application deployment in enterprises is complex, time-consuming, and cumbersome, one of the top priorities in speeding up the process must be to bridge the isolation across the multiple teams that are involved in application deployment.

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 network 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 hybrid and multi-vendor infrastructure become more important than ever before.

The Process of Application Deployment Today

To better understand the process of deploying a new application across a multi-vendor, hybrid infrastructure, let’s consider a common use case. This process can take anywhere from 3 days to 8 weeks in most organizations.

  • In a typical application-provisioning scenario, when an application is rolled out, the application team submits a request (ServiceNow) to create ADC configurations (F5 BIG-IP LTM, Avi load balancer). Generally, the request contains details such as application name, virtual server name, port number, and load balancing algorithm.
  • This request is then pushed to the network team. The network team verifies the information, and if any information is found to be missing or wrong, the request is pushed back for rectification.
  • The network team then refers to an IPAM solution (Infoblox) to get a free IP, and the selected IP is sent back to the application team.
  • The application team then creates a ticket for the firewall administrator to create necessary firewall rules (Checkpoint, Fortigate, F5 BIG-IP AFM) and adhere to organization standards.
  • The application team requests the PKI admin to provide certificate and key (DigiCert) for the application, which will be deployed by network team on the devices.
  • In the worst-case scenario, if the application needs to be rolled back again, a new set of tickets are started.

This labor-intensive, manual approach is both repetitive and time-consuming. Clearly, there’s a better way.

Hybrid Network Orchestration: The AppViewX Solution

As your application delivery infrastructure becomes progressively more complex, enterprises must turn to network infrastructure management and automation solutions to ensure successful deployments. AppViewX offers a suite of tools for organizations striving to become true digital enterprises.

The AppViewX platform will help you automate third-party, best-of-breed and open-source network services like those provided by application delivery controllers, security devices, certificate authorities, DNS servers, routers/switches and more.

The AppViewX platform integrates with other best-in-class IT service management solutions to govern and record service requests in the larger automated workflow. It can be leveraged to help users move faster, eliminate errors and reduce costs, making it the best choice for enterprises working to adapt to new technologies, processes and application delivery expectations.

AppVision Tools

AppViewX offers automation and orchestration tools to address network and application service requests, namely AppVision and Visual Workflow. It allows users to automate service requests across multi-vendor and hybrid infrastructure by providing a topological view of the infrastructure.

  • AppVision: AppVision provides end-users a new and compelling view of their infrastructure, allowing them to manage their application and network infrastructure services in a brand-new, more informed way. It also enables them to initiate role-based automated workflows.
  • Visual Workflow: Visual Workflow provides an intuitive and visual system for designing self-serviceable, event-driven, intelligent and automated workflows.

To deploy a new application, network engineers, security engineers and PKI admin can utilize a simple a drag-and-drop network service catalog to create an infrastructure comprised of F5 BIG-IP LTMs, Avi load balancers, Checkpoint firewall configurations, Fortigate firewall configurations, SSL certificates, and so on. Multiple teams can work on a single live infrastructure map through delegated role-based access control. These Inframaps can be saved as Blueprints that can be deployed repeatedly in the enterprise’s data centers.

AppViewX receives the approval via the ITSM, talks to the IPAM system via RESTful APIs, and picks up a free IP. Not only is an IP fetched for the VIP, but DNS records (A record and PTR record) are also created for the application in the corresponding IPAM system. The network team can then review the application if necessary. Once it has final approval, the configuration file is built and pushed to network devices to make the necessary changes. Multiple levels of approvals can also be configured based on enterprise policies. There is also an option to schedule the configuration push for a particular date and time. Users can then set up alerts to trigger an email or SMTP trap to notify teams for monitoring purposes.

Post-validation

The AppViewX platform empowers teams to perform post-validation tests to determine whether applications are performing as they should. This function can also be used as a troubleshooting mechanism when applications are not working correctly.

Application topology view

The application topology view gives application and network teams a comprehensive look at the application infrastructure allowing them to troubleshoot issues more quickly and efficiently. AppVision InfraMaps give a live, intuitive visual representation of application infrastructure with the state, status and topology of managed service components providing complete application-centric visibility.

Conclusion

There is no question that application delivery should be faster. But, to actually achieve speedier delivery times, enterprises must abandon the antiquated manual approaches slowing them down.

AppViewX is helping customers automate and orchestrate application delivery tasks to avoid costly deployment delays. In fact, using our platform, numerous customers have shortened their application deployment window from weeks to days, and in some cases, hours. AppViewX provides the ability to define workflows for approval, validation and implementation to help companies respond to the changing digital demands of today.

Technology integrations

AppViewX integrates with leading technology providers to provide state-of-the-art automation and orchestration capabilities.

Technology type Vendors
ADC A10 Networks, Akamai, Amazon Web Services (ELB), Avi Networks, Brocade, Cisco, Citrix, F5, HAProxy, NGINX, Radware
Certificate Authority Comodo, DigiCert, Entrust, GeoTrust, GlobalSign, GoDaddy, InCommon, Microsoft, QuoVadis, Trustwave
DDI BIND, Bluecat, InfoBlox, VitalQIP
ITSM BMC Remedy, ServiceNow,
Security CheckPoint, Cisco, F5, Fortinet, Juniper, Palo Alto, Squid Proxy
HSM Gemalto

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