Applications over the WAN Add Stress, Breed New Products


On the surface, it seems like a no-brainer: Centralization and consolidation of data center resources means more users are connecting to their applications over the WAN. So it makes sense that enterprises are starting to pay more attention to their wide-area capabilities.

But as a new report from Research and Markets reveals, this isn't the whole story. Along with centralization, enterprises are also dealing with things like real-time applications, greater resource connectivity and virtualization, all of which is placing a great deal of pressure on the WAN. And it's not just customer-facing applications, either. Many of the back-end systems are shuttling data over the long haul, particularly as more users are connecting from outside, either at home or in distributed offices.

For this reason, the application delivery controller is likely to become a hot commodity at distributed enterprises. The idea here is to install a small device on the network that assumes responsibility for such tasks as load balancing, data routing and monitoring, freeing the Web server for interaction with the user.

Many of the newest models are adding a wide range of features even as costs come down. Array Networks' APV9000 device, for example, includes a high-availability cache, SSL acceleration, DDoS protection and even multiplexing and compression capabilities. The unit can re-route traffic past idle or fully loaded servers and then dynamically re-establish connections as traffic eases. It also offers 1+1 redundancy to eliminate single-point-of-failure issues.

Other firms are tailoring systems toward specific types of applications. Radware's AppDirector recently received validation for Oracle's Siebel CRM 8.0 system under the company's Applications Integration Architecture for Partners program. The result is that Radware can provide "always available" access to CRM 8.0 users through dynamic resource allocation that eliminates network bottlenecks during heavy load periods. The move also gives Oracle customers access to Radware's OnDemand Switch platform that extends scalability to their application acceleration infrastructure.

Whenever you talk about extending enterprise resources outside the firewall, security becomes a major concern. That's part of the reason even industry leaders like Riverbed are turning to outside help. The company recently teamed up with Websense to add its Hosted Web Security system to the Riverbed Services Platform that powers the Steelhead appliance. At the moment, the system can be deployed either as on-premise software or on a hosted model, although the ultimate goal is to offer a "hybrid" cloud-based platform.

The need for application acceleration is another example of "technology giveth and technology taketh away." Consolidation does provide for greater utilization and lower capital costs for servers and storage, but it places greater pressure on the network. You could skimp on it, of course, but that just leads to greater latency and the inevitable loss of productivity.