Application Delivery in the Cloud

Arthur Cole
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Application Delivery May Be Jeopardizing Security

Study finds that the failure to invest in secure software delivery puts businesses at risk.

When you get right down to it, the cloud is not entirely about advanced technology, massive scalability or remaking data infrastructure. At its heart, the cloud is intended to improve application and data delivery.

Too many enterprises invest heavily in building out a cloud architecture, but then fail to address this fundamental aspect by relying on much of the same application delivery technologies that serve traditional static infrastructure.

A key component in any cloud strategy, then, is the Application Delivery Controller, which Network World's Robin Layland describes as "the glue that holds the data center network together at the application layer." Without it, applications and services run the risk of poor performance or outright failure because critical load balancing, encryption and other functions may not carry across public, private or hybrid environments.

Of course, this leads to the question of where the ADC should be hosted. Should cloud providers enable their own ADC functions, and if so, how will they be coordinated with the clients'? Israeli firm Radware is hoping to break this conundrum with its Virtual Application Delivery Infrastructure, which utilizes virtual ADCs that can be deployed across resource pools in multiple data centers. This allows app delivery to be assigned to individual applications or users, simplifying management and eliminating the need for redundant hardware across networks. Essentially, Radware has abstracted the ADC so it can enjoy all the benefits that virtualization and the cloud bring to data environments in general.

Part of the drive toward greater application flexibility is centering around live migration. It's not enough to move applications, but entire application environments. NetApp and VMware have been working closely with F5 to form a cohesive migration environment the accommodates both VMs and apps, even if they aren't optimized for distributed architectures. The combo consists of vSphere 5 and vMotion with NetApp's FlexCache unified storage system and F5's BIG-IP portfolio of traffic management and WAN optimization solutions.

A good way to look at application delivery in the cloud is as another data center architecture tier, says F5's Lori MacVittie. This is crucial for enterprises looking to gain true efficiency from the cloud rather than mere economies of scale because it provides the ability to maintain performance levels and uptime across public and private infrastructure. In this way, the cloud will finally lend itself to the kind of control that organizations say is necessary to support higher order and mission-critical applications.

A solid framework for application delivery is the best way to ensure that your investment in the cloud doesn't amount to just a collection of technologies, but a cohesive, integrated data environment. Without it, you will still have the latest and greatest infrastructure, but not the flexibility and productivity gains that you've been promised.

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