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Application Delivery Controllers (ADCs): The Last Physical Hurdle to the Software Defined Datacenter (SDDC)

Effectively a next generation load balancer, enterprises are deploying Application Delivery Controllers (ADCs) to front-end their mission critical applications. The enterprise ADC market is mature with well established players and solutions. Yet when moving applications to the cloud – it’s a completely different playground. The business need is to support a new application life cycle—one that allows the business to scale across hybrid cloud environment.

In this post I will explore an application life cycle use case across hybrid cloud, and how to properly deploy an ADC in the cloud to support the application life cycle.

Understanding application life cycle in hybrid cloud environment

IT managers move their applications to the cloud in order to reduce costs and improve the business agility. A typical enterprise application life cycle is based on the following stages:

  • Application development and testing—in the public cloud
  • Application production—in the private cloud
  • Application Disaster Recovery (DR) and bursting—in the public cloud

Cost reduction is achieved in several dimensions: it is easier to develop new applications or test new configurations in the cloud (no need to maintain a costly staging lab); application production using virtualization technology reduces data center compute costs; and DR / bursting in the cloud means pay according to actual resource consumption. Moving applications to the cloud also means better business agility thanks to application elasticity over hybrid cloud.

ADC challenges when extending applications to the cloud

Increasingly, enterprises are front-ending applications with application delivery controllers (ADCs) to achieve high availability and accelerate application performance. Traditionally, enterprises typically deployed hardware-based ADC solutions to front-end mission critical applications, and only sometimes used software ADC solutions for staging, testing or non-critical applications. This is now changing rapidly. According to Gartner and IDC application delivery market share analysis the soft ADC portion out of the overall ADC market forecast grows from 5.4% in 2012 to 10.9% is 2015.

Moving or extending applications to the cloud (private or public) poses new challenges to the IT manager that are forcing them to reconsider how to build these portable applications, including how to load balance them. These challenges include:

  1. How to allow applications to transition between the public cloud and the private cloud?
  2. How to make the entire application virtual, including load balancing?

Building apps that transition between cloud environments

The answer to the first question is much easier today with VMware vFabric Application Director. Application Director both automates provisioning saving valuable time and makes your applications portable across cloud environments, giving your organization the option to burst to public clouds or relocate your apps from public clouds to private cloud infrastructure to run them more cost effectively.

Building completely virtualized applications

But what happens when that enterprise has a physical load balancer for this app? Application Director relies on the software being abstracted from the infrastructure so it can move it across cloud environments seamlessly. If you are using a physical load balancer, this is impossible across disparate cloud environments.

So, enterprises are gravitating to embrace the Software Defined Datacenter (SDDC) where all components of applications are delivered as software service. This includes how applications are load balanced. Modern load balancing choices usually lead architects to Application Delivery Controllers. But in order to virtualize them completely and allow them to port to different cloud environments, it is important to do so without having to recertify and redesign the ADC configuration.

For example, Radware’s Alteon VA allows enterprises to take the ADC configuration as is, as an application building block, and drag-and-drop it into the application blueprint within Application Director. Configuration of the device can be extracted, versioned for target deployment environments and applied in a late binding process as the ADC is provisioned. This enables enterprises to maintain a single blueprint per application, including the virtualized ADC, and easily reuse the same blueprint in any cloud.

VMware is making deploying portable, fully virtualized apps even easier

As this trend to make portable, fully virtualized apps even easier and faster to build, VMware has created a Cloud Applications Marketplace release to announcement where you can find commonly used, pre-configured software components such as Radware’s Alteon VA ADC available for easy download into your Application Director software catalog for use when building your next SDDC-style application.

>>Check out Radware’s Alteon VA ADC on the VMware Cloud Application Marketplace
About the Author:  Ron Meyran manages the marketing activities of Radware’s technology alliance partners. His responsibilities include: go-to-market strategy and planning, analyst and media education, and the support of key project activities for worldwide customers in both the enterprise and carrier markets. As an industry security expert, Ron is also a frequent speaker on the conference circuit and has been invited to lecture as an expert commentator.

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