IT organizations are shifting focus away from the network infrastructure and toward the assurance that end users can connect to their applications and data. Today’s dynamic virtualized and cloud infrastructure is focused on application delivery vs. infrastructure management. Organizations are quickly adopting this model, and according to Gartner (News - Alert), more than 75 pecent of application servers are virtualized today.
When I connect to an application through my device, I expect it to be available and functional. If I can’t access it, it doesn’t matter if the problem is due to the application servers, the network infrastructure, or the backend databases; all I know is that my application isn’t performing, and I need the problem fixed.
The IT community builds network infrastructures to deliver applications and data to end users. Myriad technologies and components within these architectures – including routers, switches, firewalls, and application delivery controllers – ensure applications are always available.
Dynamic technologies like routing protocols, security services, server load balancing, and global server load balancing guarantee the infrastructure is resilient and will connect end users to their applications.
The network infrastructure is becoming an abstract transport layer that provides the mechanism for end users to connect to their applications. Businesses and end users notice problems with the infrastructure when they can’t connect to their applications. This means IT organizations need to shift focus to application delivery instead of the underlying transport infrastructure.
That’s Not My Problem
IT organizations traditionally don’t have a single team that understands and cares about end-to-end application delivery. Rather, separate teams manage the network infrastructure, security policies, and application servers.
When a problem arises, these teams juggle the issue among themselves like a hot potato. The network team will say, “It’s a server problem. When you prove otherwise, contact us.” The application team will counter that by saying, “It’s always a network problem. Check there first.” And the security team will stay quiet until someone asks about the policies on the security devices protecting the application access. Meanwhile, the root cause of the problem could be a minor misconfiguration or issue with how the client is trying to access the application.
If the end user is concerned about application delivery, the IT organization and tools it uses should be dedicated to ensuring the applications are available, reliable, and resilient. IT departments must consolidate and coordinate efforts to manage the application delivery through the IT infrastructure.
IT organizations must operationally integrate these different functions through analytics and management. Instead of different teams identifying and mitigating potential problems in isolation, a more holistic view of the application delivery infrastructure is needed. The teams should work to understand the inter-relationships of their individual components, and how they contribute to the end goal of end user accessibility to applications.
Virtualization and DevOps
Two emerging trends, virtualization and DevOps, are blurring the lines within IT organizations. Virtualization, network, and server architecture are designed to deliver a common infrastructure for application delivery.
DevOps breaks down barriers through agile and continuous development processes to provide seamless transitions between development, testing, staging, and production environments. This new development model requires the integration of the different IT organizations.
In addition to shifting operational focus to application delivery instead of point technology management, IT organizations are also changing the way they design and manage their networks. Instead of the siloed organizational model, IT organizations are moving to a unified structure based on the network infrastructure becoming an abstract foundation, as well as the ultimate goal: access to applications and data.
Frank Yue is the Director Application Delivery Solutions for Radware. In this role, Yue is responsible for evangelizing technologies and trends around Radware�s ADC (News - Alert) solutions and products. He writes blogs, produces solution architectures, and speaks at conferences and events around the world about application networking technologies. Prior to joining Radware, Yue was at F5 Networks (News - Alert), delivering their global messaging for service providers. Yue has also covered deep packet inspection, high performance networking, and security technologies. Yue is a scuba diving instructor and background actor when he is not discussing technology.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi