Brent Lees, Riverbed Technology
With the growing number of applications in use in today’s enterprises, network administrators are surely noticing some new challenges. Many IT professionals responsible for supporting applications in datacenter and cloud environments continue to see growth in the number of applications being deployed and upgraded, which often goes hand-in-hand with datacenter consolidation, while IT budgets either remain stagnant or are reduced year-over-year. In other words, the adage remains: do more with less.
IT budgets are essentially stationary. Recently, the *Enterprise Strategy Group reported that a majority of the enterprises that they surveyed expected either flat or reduced IT budgets year-over-year. As such, obtaining spending approval for modern datacentre technologies to support an increase in applications can be a challenge, but ESG also found that demonstrating a project’s strong return on investment (ROI) is the most effective way to get budget authorisation.
Organisations are looking increasingly more like service providers in the transition to modern environments. With requirements for greater flexibility, agility, and efficiency, IT delivers services to different business units in multi-tenant environments, leveraging cloud services when necessary. The ESG report indicated that the number of applications that IT organizations support will increase year-over-year in more than 84% of enterprise accounts, and that the average enterprise should also expect to upgrade between 11–25 existing applications over the next year.
Ultimately the challenge for the IT team is to utilise solutions such as consolidation, virtualisation and cloud solutions to drive more value from existing spend.
So how can businesses improve application performance while also facing budget challenges?
Getting more out of your IT budget
IT budgets are essentially stationary. Recently, the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG reported that a majority of the enterprises they surveyed, expected to reduce IT budgets year-over-year. As such, obtaining spending approval for modern data centre technologies to support an increase in applications can be a challenge, but ESG also found that demonstrating a project’s strong ROI is the most effective way to get that approval.
Yet despite these static budgets, enterprise organisations are looking increasingly more like service providers in the transition to modern environments. With requirements for greater flexibility, agility and efficiency, IT delivers services to different business units in multi-tenant environments, leveraging cloud services when necessary. The ESG report indicated that the number of applications that IT organisations support will increase year over year in more than 84 percent of enterprise accounts, and that the average enterprise should also expect to upgrade between 11-25 existing applications over the next year.
Given the fact that a strong ROI is the number one way to get the necessary spend approval for new projects, if application-focused technologies can reduce CAPEX and OPEX costs, deliver a short ROI and maintain the same or better SLA’s for application services, IT administrators will be in a better position to meet their applications demands while complying with a flat budget.
The role of the Application Delivery Controller
The Application Delivery Controller (ADC) is one of the key technologies for application delivery infrastructure. ADCs are used to help scale, improve availability, secure and optimise applications.
Virtual ADCs allow customers to dynamically deploy an ADC per application through ADCaaS. With ADCaaS, users can quickly spin the ADC up or down for a scalable, secure and elastic delivery of enterprise, cloud and e-commerce applications. It can also control and optimise end-user services by inspecting, transforming, prioritising and distributing application traffic across environments, from physical and virtual data centres to public and hybrid clouds.
ADCaaS is beginning to gain momentum as enterprises move to virtual, cloud and software-defined data centres. ESG spoke with enterprise and service provider IT organisations, and found that new technologies are much needed in the ADC space. A software-based, cloud-ready, highly automated ADCaaS approach can enable organisations to demonstrate the necessary ROI while significantly improving business processes.
Taking the steps towards ADCaaS
As we face greater demands for applications, agility and flexibility, enterprises moving towards a modern data centre environment should consider the following:
Provision faster – The time taken to deploy an application can be heavily impacted by the time required to provision the application delivery infrastructure. ADCaaS can typically reduce the amount of time to provision this infrastructure by an order of magnitude, resulting in the ability to spin up new services in about 30 to 60 seconds compared with those with legacy ADCs that would report times in the two to six hour range.
Rapidly move from test and development to production – Many legacy ADC users find that the test and development environment does not match the production environment, which means a longer transition time from test and development to production. ADCaaS users typically can easily support test and development with all the capabilities of the production environment and deliver those services more quickly, which can translate to faster time to market.
Accelerate the time to value – Purchasing and deploying legacy ADCs can delay ROI by several months. Meanwhile, ADCaaS customers can download the software, type in the license key and be operational in a matter of hours. In addition, ADCaaS can be easier to use than legacy ADCs, which is useful for consolidated data centres that are large but need to remain agile. Easy-to-understand interfaces mean that in some cases, even less-skilled staff can configure and provision services.
Rapidly scale the environment - By leveraging a pay-as-you-go licensing model and the ability to deploy solutions in the cloud (IaaS), ADCaaS-enabled organisations are able to rapidly scale to meet demand while only paying for what they use. ADCaaS environments eliminate the time-consuming steps required by the physical domain, and eliminate the need to purchase and wait for additional appliances when more capacity is needed. Scaling an environment back down also happens faster with a virtual appliance, which is especially useful in test and development environments with constantly changing requirements.
Burst to the cloud – As a virtual appliance or software-based solution, ADCaaS instances are easily deployed in IaaS environments, and many cloud providers either offer solutions by the hour/month or have ‘bring your own license’ (BYOL) options in place. Enterprises can significantly lower CAPEX and OPEX costs by moving to the cloud because a pay-as-you-go model eliminates the need to overprovision physical devices and pay maintenance fees for devices not always in use.
As enterprises continue to move to the cloud, it is software-based technologies that will surpass traditional ADCs to support the demands of modern data centres. Eventually, traditional ADCs will be unable to scale efficiently and aid the fast move to the cloud. Technology allows businesses to work from anywhere and at any time, increasing agility and flexibility. Those that can turn distance and location into a competitive advantage, experiencing location-independent computing, will be able to offer the flexibility to host applications, which will provide strong application performance and a much-improved user experience.
*(ESG Report: “ROI benefits from automating application delivery solutions” by Bob Laliberte, Senior Analyst, November 2013)
ESG “ESG: ROI Benefits from Automating Application Delivery Solutions” by Bob Laliberte, Sr. Analyst, November 2013.