Can one word really make a difference in anything? If you’re technically-minded, you might think there’s no way. But allow me to expand on this before I give you the punchline.
In the last couple of years, multicloud adoption in the enterprise has gone from buzzword mania to mainstream adoption. A recent study conducted by Forrester Consulting, commissioned by Virtustream (a Dell Technologies business), indicates that 86 percent of enterprises have already adopted a multicloud strategy, noting that “No single cloud platform meets all enterprise workload requirements.”
We can’t be too surprised by this. More enterprises than ever are embracing an agile development model, which is translating into more information technology (IT) autonomy being extended to DevOps teams and business units so they can deploy application workloads and services on-demand, as needed.
Regardless of whether you’re the CIO, solutions architect or a DevOps professional, there’s really one factor that reigns supreme: How to ensure that the user or customer “experience” with your application or workload is always available and always secure.
This challenge is at the heart of how the application delivery controller (ADC) market, otherwise known as load balancing, has evolved. This market has desperately needed to shift the rhetoric away from a vendor-focused message around “what I can deliver/sell you,” to a message focused squarely on the customer need: Always-on Application Experience, or AX.
As a point of reference, I recently attended a regional CIO event in Phoenix, AZ where the room full of 90 IT leaders was asked: “Show of hands: How many of you know what an application delivery controller or ADC is?” Not one hand in the room went up. I was shocked! I had been in this job for about five months and thought, surely, someone must know what an ADC is.
Then a second question was asked: “How many of you know what a load balancer is?” Everyone in the room put a hand in the air. It was really quite telling.
I later reflected back on a research report published by a leading industry analyst firm that had reported: “Load Balancing is Dead.” Well, I guess not quite, unless we’re all dancing in a Michael Jackson Thriller video. And while we can argue whether the rationale for creating a sensational headline that might sell more research reports was a bit extreme or not, the reality is that the underlying premise of the research was correct, pointing to an inflection point in the market.
Fast forward to today, and we are smack dab in the middle of the next major inflection point focused on multicloud application experience. This time, customer requirements are pointing to an even greater set of technology requirements.
For DevOps teams, this might translate into a simplified approach to ensuring always-on application health. For enterprise infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders, it might be increasing control of a distributed application experience across competing public cloud environments. It certainly includes free and per-application deployment models, centralized monitoring of application health, and autonomous healing of application issues. All translating to a better “experience” for our customer, and their customer.
According Shep Hyken in a recent Forbes article titled “Customer Experience is the New Brand,” Hyken qualified it well: “Be it customer service, product quality or just the way the customers feel about the companies they do business with, customer experience rises to the top of whether or not the customer will decide to keep doing business with a brand.”
Whether you are hosting an application on a single server, or multiple workloads across multiple data centers or multiple clouds, the one thing that doesn’t change is your user’s expectation that everything will be available, all of the time. For your business, AX is everything.