Advanced Technologies Require Advanced (and Automated) Tools

Application Networking

Advanced Technologies Require Advanced (and Automated) Tools

By Frank Yue, Director of Application Delivery Solutions  |  January 16, 2017

The technologies we use within the Internet are advancing at a rapid pace. We are continuing to introduce new functions and capabilities to our IT infrastructures. These advancements are complicating our architectures. This is making it harder for us to design and manage our application delivery networks.

As an analogy, let’s look at the evolution of transportation. Early on, we produced constructs like manually pulled carts. They were simple and only needed basic tools to maintain. Fast forward to the 20th Century and people started using internal combustion vehicles – automobiles. These vehicles required many more tools, and other tasks had to be added to keep them in proper running order. Oil needed to be changed and tire pressures needed to be checked.

Today’s vehicles are a marvel, containing an integrated mix of advanced electronics and precision-built mechanical parts. It is almost impossible for someone to work on these vehicles unless they have advanced professional training and the right tools. Home auto mechanics are still using screwdrivers and socket wrenches when they really need ohmmeters and OBD-II diagnostic readers.

Today’s Technology with Yesterday’s Management

The evolution of internet technologies has created complex architectures with virtualization, software-defined networking, and hybrid cloud environments.

Application delivery is getting complicated as well. HTTP/2 uses TLS encryption by default. Security is complicated with denial of service attacks, distributed DoS, advanced DoS, behavioral DoS, and advanced persistent threats.

Unfortunately, the technology community has been slow to create and update the tools to manage and operate these technologies. We are still using network monitoring technologies like NetFlow and sFlow. SNMP polling and syslog scrubbing are standard tools for operations teams. All of these tools have been available for 10 to 20 years. They were created for legacy environments. Meanwhile, these new architectures have been around for 5 to 10 years and are continuing to morph and evolve. 

IT organizations are compensating for the lack of proper tools by investing in highly qualified experts for each realm of responsibility. They hire trained security experts who know how to design and configure an intrusion prevention system or web application firewall. Network experts need to be up to date on SDN technologies like VXLAN and Open Daylight. Virtualization personnel require an advanced understanding of virtual machine and hypervisor configurations.

All of these experts are required because the tools are not in place to easily and properly diagnose the problems. Once a problem is discovered, other tools are needed to manage and fix the issue. The tools take the expertise of the advanced professionals and put it into standardized resources that any layperson can utilize.

Operational Simplicity through Advanced Management and Orchestration

It is unrealistic to believe that operational efficiency is achieved through the acquisition of high-value experts that manage and monitor the infrastructure on a daily basis. The time required for manual operations processes is high and continues to increase as the technologies advance. The introduction of human error into complicated and advanced procedures can create more problems than the processes solve. Last, the cost and effort to maintain and retain the expertise is extremely high.

Operational efficiency and simplicity is key to taking full advantage of these new and advanced technologies. New tools need to be created and customized for the operational management and orchestration of these complex IT architectures. Unified management and orchestration systems are being developed to support these diverse environments. Open standards like OpenStack are providing the foundation for these operational tools.

The tools need to be flexible and adaptable. Just like everybody’s car is not the same, each business has a unique IT architecture for its application delivery environment. APIs provide the foundation, but vendors and communities need to deliver tools built using the APIs and standards. The IT community has created several development platforms that can be used to build management and orchestration tools. Then, with minimal support and oversight, businesses need to train their teams to build the tools. This process for custom tool creation will create a lot of flawed products and redundant works produced by different organizations.

Management and orchestration systems must provide tools that simplify and automate the operational aspects of maintaining the complex network infrastructures. It is time for the IT community to move on from the Bronze Age of tool development to the Modern Age as these virtualized architectures evolve.

Frank Yue (News - Alert) 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 Alicia Young