The Trends and Requirements of Mission-critical Applications: Today, most large organizations are strongly dependent upon various business applications such as CRM, ERP, unified communications (e.g. VoIP and mail) and others that streamline and empower many aspects of their business. The performance and availability of these applications directly affect employee productivity and their ability to effectively achieve business goals.
This is why organizations invest significant time and money in the deployment of such business critical applications and the underlying network infrastructure enabling the delivery of these applications to all employees, partners and customers - whenever and wherever they are.
The Value of ADCs in Application Environments
Application Delivery Controllers (ADCs) are the brain which enables networks to guarantee consistent, high availability, performance and security of the applications running through it. The reason that ADCs can boost application performance is because they are application-aware and can make traffic routing decisions based on layer 7 application-level information; for example making a routing decision based on server health check information and moving it to the most available server or rerouting user traffic based on the required security level.
ADCs can also perform functions which are more tightly coupled with an application itself. For example, ADCs can cache and compress part of the information sent from the server to the client, offloading these functions from the server and enabling it to handle additional traffic / users instead. The tighter the coupling between the ADC (News - Alert) and application, the more value this joint solution can bring to an organization and its application users.
Securing an application has also become an integral role of more advanced ADCs. Their ability to perform URL rewrites and hide customer application infrastructure topologies or provide integrated behavioral DDoS attack mitigation, can ensure application availability to legitimate users, even when under attack.
As the role of ADCs in application acceleration, security and availability increases, tighter integration between ADC and application is required. This leads to higher risk of interoperability issues between them as well as longer time from production to market - due to the increased complexity of the joint solution’s configuration.
Getting More out of Applications – Quickly and Safely
The advantages and challenges mentioned above are already recognized by both application vendors and most ADC vendors. Application vendors, such as Microsoft, SAP, Oracle (News - Alert), IBM, Blackboard, VMware and others all have strict certification processes in place for ADC products. These processes exist to ensure that customers will receive the full benefits and value from a joint-certified solution. Below is a list of added-value and key business benefits to be considered when selecting a certified ADC for business critical applications:
Fast time to production with minimal risk – a certified ADC solution often comes with a detailed technical integration guide (TIG) allowing customers to quickly deploy the ADC, providing step-by-step instructions and reducing risks related to their production environments due to potential interoperability and integration issues;
Realize solution’s performance improvements and cost reduction - some ADC vendors take the opportunity of such certification tests to produce performance testing comparisons. This quantifies and demonstrates real-life performance improvement and greater cost reduction of the solution when deployed in conjunction with the specific application.
Performance tuning for greater application optimization - the application-ADC certification process provides both vendors the opportunity to optimize the configuration of both sides, delivering the most value to the customer. This optimized configuration is often documented and provided to customers enabling them to easily and swiftly deploy and commission the joint solution in their network, using tested and certified configuration, shortening the time to market and thus, guaranteeing and optimizing the solution for business critical applications.
Leveraging a vendor’s knowledge and best practices - some ADC vendors have gained important knowledge and experience in application optimization. Leveraging an ADC vendor’s experience can significantly accelerate and simplify deployment for the customer.
Selecting an ADC solution which best fits a business-critical application typically involves several parameters to gain these core values:
--Increased application performance and faster response time
--Guaranteeing application’s high availability
--Securing the application from various network attacks
The question is not why an ADC is needed but rather how can customers fully, leverage the value of an ADC in the quickest, less risky way. ADC vendors providing joint solution certification, performance reports and deployment guides can help organizations make educated decisions towards which ADC best fulfills their applications’ need.