Application Delivery the CIO Will Thank You For

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Do you remember the biggest problem Microsoft had in the early days of selling Windows? It was too slow. While the visual user experience was compelling, the lag of the operating system and the applications kept users clinging to their character mode software.

Today’s software is richer and more demanding of IT resources than ever before. On-premises solutions work their endpoints, related servers, and the network to the bone. Meanwhile, Cloud and SaaS solutions require a high-performance, highly available network both internally and externally through the WAN to the Cloud.

Here is a simple equation.

Application Experience = User Experience = Great Application Delivery

Enough math. Tell me what it means. Application delivery means your Cloud and on-premises endpoint and server apps run in ways that not only cause no complaints but pleases users — just like your car after a nice tune-up.

A high-performing, highly available network, as indicated earlier, supports application performance and a positive application experience. But you can go deeper with a specialized solution. Let’s have Gartner explain the rest.

“The application delivery controller is a key component within enterprise and Cloud data centers to improve availability, security, and performance of applications. Application delivery controllers (ADCs) provide functions that optimize delivery of enterprise applications across the network,” is how Gartner defines Application Delivery Controllers. “ADCs provide functionality for both user-to-application and application-to-application traffic, and effectively bridge the gap between the application and underlying protocols and traditional packet-based networks. This market evolved from the load balancing systems that were developed in the latter half of the 1990s to ensure the availability and scalability of websites. Enterprises use ADCs today to improve the availability, scalability, end-user performance, data center resource utilization, and security of their applications.”

Gartner is correct, but there is something missing — that an ADC is essentially the same thing as a load balancer. Let’s see how Progress Kemp explains it.

“An Application Delivery Controller (ADC), sometimes referred to as a load balancer, is a network server that takes processor intensive tasks off the web servers so they can focus on application tasks. ADC is a core component of an Application Delivery Network, which is made up from a suite of technologies deployed in concert to deliver applications efficiently over a network,” it says in its Application Delivery Controller (ADC) glossary entry.

Load Balancing Practices of Yesterday No Longer Fit

Application delivery and load balancing are nothing new. But the old ways are clearly no longer sufficient.

“The way applications are developed and delivered is rapidly changing. The adoption of Agile methodology, DevOps practices, and multi-cloud hybrid platform delivery means that the load balancing infrastructure practices of the past are often no longer fit for purpose,” is argued in the Differences Between Legacy Application Delivery and Application Delivery Fabric blog.

“What IT Operations have typically done to deliver load balancing is to specify a shared sizeable multi-tenant load balancer for each site hosting applications, or they have deployed dedicated load balancers for each application on each site. In many cases, a combination of shared and dedicated load balancers has been used, often in pairs, to provide resilience. This approach is inefficient as the estimated maximum traffic requirements for each load balancer has to be worked out and paid for in advance. This path leads to organizations paying for unused capacity for much of the time.”

Introducing the Application Delivery Fabric

The old way of simply setting up load balancers where needed with no relation to one another no longer works. Instead, these devices should be knitted together into a fabric.

“A better way to approach load balancing in the new agile and multi-cloud world is to think of the complete application delivery infrastructure as a single fabric. Irrespective of the delivery location for an organization’s applications – data centers, private cloud, or from multiple public cloud providers, tracking of the load balancing traffic should include all locations. Choosing a load balancing solution that allows for aggregated traffic monitoring and billing over all sites means that you only  pay for the capacity used across the whole organization,” the blog says.

How does all this become a fabric? Application Delivery Fabric is a framework which gives organizations a single point for control, analysis, and diagnosis of key application metrics. Components of an application delivery fabric include:

  • Application Delivery Controller – intelligently manages client connections to complex web and enterprise applications. The controller is a software program that manages or directs the flow of data between two entities.
  • Management and Control Interface – for application delivery assets showing their status and performance. This should provide performance metrics across all hosting platforms: data center, private cloud, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and public cloud.
  • Monitoring Service – that delivers insights from within the application environment, reporting anomalies and suggesting remediation that can be handled by an organization’s own IT staff or by the ADC vendor’s support team.

Customers Embrace Application Delivery

We can say we like application delivery and load balancing, but the real proof comes from actual customers. On Gartner Peer Insights, LoadMaster has earned 4.9 stars (out of 5, of course!), and 90% of real customers rate it a perfect 5 stars. Here are a few examples:

Cloud-Ready Load Balancing

A transportation firm is using LoadMaster for application delivery and will rely on it as it moves to the Cloud.

“We’ve been using LoadMaster for a few years, already powering our marketing website. We’ve had a few projects deployed that needed the traffic routed to different systems depending on the user/requested resource. Our installation of Loadmaster was not only able to support the ever-growing needs for different streams, but also deliver exceptional performance. We are planning to migrate from a co-location to a full Cloud solution, and we know for sure we will be taking our Loadmaster with us for the ride.”

Load Balancing Microsoft Exchange — Easily

LoadMaster is not new to load balancing Microsoft Exchange. In fact, back in 2013, Redmond Magazine named LoadMaster its Third-Party All Star for Exchange load balancing. Years later, customers continue to achieve success load balancing Exchange with LoadMaster.

One customer used an HA pair of LoadMaster X3 hardware appliances to load balance Exchange 2016 at a remote site. Here’s what they had to say about the experience.

“Installation and configuration was easy, and any issues that arose were handled quickly by support. My sales team was responsive during the purchase. We use another load balancer in our main office, which is much more complex to configure. So far, I am very satisfied with the [LoadMaster] product selection.”

Another customer, this one in higher education, shared this experience using LoadMaster for its application delivery, including running Exchange for 10,000+ students.

“We did not have a load balancer before LoadMaster, and we needed one to increase security and performance. For someone like me, who cannot be an expert in all areas, it is nice to have Kemp’s support in your back pocket. They provide expert help fast to help me with my most complicated load balancing needs. It is very powerful. We run more than 100 services — including Exchange for 10,000 students — and the LoadMaster is never busy. It almost looked bored. … “I like the raw power and performance LoadMaster provides, plus the perfect reliability. We have used LoadMaster for five years and it has never failed.”

Kemp 360 Vision and Kemp 360 Application Delivery Fabric

Progress Kemp has turned application delivery fabric into a complete system.

Progress Kemp 360 Vision prevents issues before they happen by correlating data from the entire application delivery fabric and converting the results into actionable insights for operations staff.

Progress Kemp 360 Central allows for multi-platform deployment, management, and monitoring of LoadMaster, F5, Nginx, and other load balancers across infrastructure on VMware, Hyper-V, or Xen, as well as on Azure and AWS public cloud. It also has a built-in automation engine to allow load balancing operations to be incorporated into DevOps and other workflows.

Kemp 360 Application Delivery Fabric Components

  • 360 Vision — Predictive Analytics: Intelligent data correlation provides early detection of AX issues with actionable insight to resolve issues before they occur.
  • Advanced Load Balancing: Best-in-class load balancers that can be deployed easily as hardware, virtually or native in public cloud environments.
  • 360 Central — Management and Control: Centralized automated load balancer provisioning and simplified day-to-day management of the application experience.

The Future of Load Balancing is Here

The leading load balancer available on the market today, LoadMaster offers affordable load balancers available as virtual, software, and hardware-based. You won’t find a more flexible or capable option from any other vendor.

With more than 100,000 deployments, LoadMaster offers the most capable solutions for load balancing to ensure applications are secure, highly available, and running at peak performance. Talk with a technical expert to learn more.

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Doug Barney

Doug Barney was the founding editor of Redmond Magazine, Redmond Channel Partner, Redmond Developer News and Virtualization Review. Doug has also served as Executive Editor of Network World, Editor in Chief of AmigaWorld and Editor in Chief of Network Computing.