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Best Practices for Application Delivery in Virtualized Networks – Part II

As we start off this New Year, how about including a resolution to improve application delivery? In Best Practices for Application Delivery in Virtualized Networks – Part I , we covered key application delivery challenges that have come up due to the complexities of managing the many types of applications that enterprises use today, and further complicated by data center consolidation and virtualization. We then covered some best practices, courtesy of Dr. Jim Metzler’s 2011 Application Service Delivery Handbook, which recommended taking a lifecycle approach to planning and managing application performance.

A key step to the lifecycle approach is to implement network and application optimization tools, such as WAN Optimization solutions and Application Delivery Controllers, including server load balancers. Of course, these solutions are not new to the market and already address many of the needs that exist with delivering enterprise applications in virtualized data centers -- namely, the need to ensure network reliability, availability and security for users accessing these applications. In this post, we will discuss a recent study by IDC, where IT decision makers across Europe and the US spoke out about their strategies for using server load balancers to deal with emerging challenges.



.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              What important attributes do you look for in your server load balancers?

As you can see in the above Figure, nearly 50% of respondents surveyed by IDC rated the ability of load balancers to deliver performance and scale as very valuable, and nearly 45% rated the ability to integrate with server virtualization as being very valuable. This implies that IT decision makers are using application delivery controllers such as the Cisco Application Control Engine (ACE) to address issues that have emerged in increasingly virtualized environments, including the ability to monitor and to shift workloads across virtual and physical resources as well as the ability for role-based administration so that different teams can work together to provision new services efficiently.

As you explore what you need to better deliver your applications, consider the following needs:

  1. Virtual machine (VM) intelligence -- It is important for your application delivery controllers to be closely aligned to your virtual infrastructure and have the ability to monitor and react to VM changes. For instance, Cisco ACE works with Overlay Transport Virtualization (OTV) technology to enable Dynamic Workload Scaling (DWS). Dynamic Workload Scaling enables the ability to deliver application resiliency and workload mobility in distributed environments, and Cisco ACE does this by querying for VM locality information and by actively monitoring the CPU and memory utilization of local VMs.
  2. Application availability – Make sure to include a failover system with constant application health monitoring both within and between data centers.
  3. High application performance – Ensure application delivery solutions that improves response time, reduces bandwidth volumes and improves efficiency regardless of whether the end-user is in the office or not.
  4. Automated service deployment – The ability to efficiently and consistently deploy and remove services within and among data centers.
  5. Data center and application security -- IDC interviewed an European retailer that utilized its server load balancer as an extra layer of security. Your application delivery controller can serve as the last line of defense against application threats and denial of service attacks.

For more information on Cisco ACE, please visit www.cisco.com/go/ace

To learn more about all Cisco network and application optimization solutions, please visit the Cisco Application Networking Services home page.

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