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Evolving Application Delivery for a Hybrid, Multi-cloud, Containerized World

November 21, 2019 By BlueAlly

Hybrid, multi-cloud, and container environments can help organizations increase business agility and compete more effectively—but they also call for new approaches to application delivery infrastructure. To ensure optimal performance, IT needs tools and methods designed to support the full diversity of today’s enterprise requirements: both traditional and modern applications, deployed both on-premises and in the cloud.

A recent Business Impact Brief by 451 Research examines the trends reshaping application delivery today. The report shows a rapid shift in the locations where applications and workloads will be deployed over the coming two years:

  • Traditional on-premises deployment will decline from 39 percent to 16 percent
  • IaaS deployment will more than double from 9 percent to 19 percent
  • SaaS deployments will increase from 13 percent to 21percent
  • Hosted private cloud deployment will rise from 9 percent to 15 percent

Findings by Aberdeen Research confirm this trend. According to the firm, a full one-third of businesses have already implemented a hybrid-cloud strategy. Nearly a quarter more plan to do so in the next 12 months. Meanwhile, a full 80 percent of the businesses that currently use the cloud have taken a multi-cloud approach, consuming cloud resources from more than one vendor. There can be many reasons for this diversification; a recent white paper by IDC cites factors including application suitability or use case, a desire to mitigate vendor lock-in, architectural reasons, or the varying needs of different internal needs.

As organizations work quickly to leverage the benefits of hybrid and multi-cloud IT, they’re also embracing containers for similar reasons, making it possible to develop applications that are more flexible, scalable, and agile.

Increasing flexibility—at the cost of visibility

While these next-generation environments offer transformative benefits for the business, they also pose new challenges for IT. The monolithic delivery infrastructure and processes developed for on-premises applications are poorly suited to hybrid and multi-cloud environments. For example, end-to-end visibility is critical to ensure optimal application performance and load balancing, but as modern environments become more distributed and complex, many organizations find that they lack a way to monitor or manage the entire application end-to-end. The built-in load balancing provided with clouds and containers may work adequately with simple applications, but it falls short of enterprise application delivery requirements.

Some of the application delivery problems seen in multi-cloud environments are inherent in the multi-vendor approach itself. As multi-cloud applications change locations over time, the native application delivery capabilities provided across environments and cloud services vary widely, and performance assumptions made in one environment won’t necessarily translate to others. Enterprises using multiple cloud services have to configure, monitor, and manage each service’s own unique application delivery and security capabilities individually, and bridge any functional gaps that emerge. And the more types of clouds used, the greater this challenge becomes.

Container visibility poses problems of its own, including the isolation of internal and external networks, frequently changing IP addresses of pods and containers, a lack of access control between microservices, and a lack of application layer visibility.

Gaining a complete view of application performance

To ensure that their modern IT environments deliver full value for their business, organizations need a more efficient, agile, and centralized way to analyze and manage performance across the entire application infrastructure. The first step is to standardize on a single application environment across every type of infrastructure—on-premises or any type of cloud—making it possible to use a consistent set of solutions regardless of where the application resides. Lessening or eliminating variability from applications, this makes it possible to ensure consistent performance, and to move and scale applications more easily as needed. IT can gain more in-depth product knowledge through focused experience, meet application performance goals more effectively, and integrate application delivery capabilities into the application lifecycle itself.

While application performance management (APM) suites can be useful in some contexts, they’re not the best choice for a modern IT environment. In general, APM products either take a network view of traffic and end up struggling with TLS encryption, or rely on agents deployed on application servers, greatly increasing operational overhead while rendering network details opaque.

An application delivery controller (ADC), on the other hand, sits at the perfect/prime location to offer complete views of network traffic and application transactions, even with encrypted traffic, as well as detailed visibility into application details and performance. Application architects and developers can use the ADC to plan for and implement key capabilities to be available wherever the application resides, including functions for performance enhancements, TLS management, performance monitoring, and security. Architects can also adapt the application delivery infrastructure to take advantage of different environments or to address any shortcomings that arise. To help application architects use this approach effectively while controlling costs, organizations should seek flexible licensing that allows simpler adoption, dynamic scaling over time as demand changes, and the ability to pool licenses across physical and virtual ADCs on-premises and in the cloud.

With applications spanning across different environments and application performance being so critical to customer satisfaction and market competitiveness, organizations need to be able to monitor and manage their hybrid, multi-cloud, and container-based applications as easily as—and alongside—their on-premises assets. By using a consistent ADC solution that offers the optimized product for each environment can help IT teams quickly adapt application delivery for modern IT environments and deliver the full value of innovation for the business and its customers.

To learn more about application delivery for a hybrid, multi-cloud, containerized world, read the complete 451 Research Business Impact Brief now.