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New Forrester Report Offers Insights to Deploying Virtual Network Services

July 2, 2012 at 12:03 pm PST

An interesting new report has been issued by Forrester Research that provides a great deal of market research and insight into the challenges of the data center network supporting large-scale virtualization. The report provides a representative view about the types of obstacles organizations are facing and where they are making new investments, along with some recommended best practices. As usual, the application services infrastructure is one of the biggest challenges, i.e., how to replicate the layer 4-7 and security services that mission-critical applications require in a highly virtualized or hybrid cloud environment. While servers and networks have largely been virtualized, relying on physical firewalls or application controllers can undermine or limit the beneficial effects of virtualization.

Forrester starts by pointing out what benefits customers are looking for and where they see the greatest growth in virtualization going forward. Over the next four years, Forrester sees 500% growth in total virtual x86 workloads that will be hosted in private cloud IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), where virtual servers are isolated between tenants, compared to 170% growth in private cloud pools in organizations’ own data centers. Forrester points out that overlooking virtual services can “negate private and public cloud investments”, however. 33% of their respondents indicated that they have difficulty integrating public services with internal virtual infrastructures, with 24% specifically citing “frustration with capability, agility and flexibility of traditional application delivery controllers (ADC)”. (see next table).


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Best Practices for Application Delivery in Virtualized Networks – Part I

Earlier this year the Webtorials Analyst Division, co-founded by Dr. Jim Metzler, surveyed their subscriber base of IT professionals. Not surprisingly, 75% admitted that when a core business application degrades in performance, the end user notices before IT does. Therefore, 85% also believe that it is important, very important and even critical to senior managers that they take a more proactive approach to managing acceptable application delivery (See Figure 1).

Source: Metzler, Jim, “2011 Application & Service Delivery Handbook”, p. 14

Click here for the 2011 Application Service Delivery Handbook -- Cisco

Contributing to the challenges of ensuring good application performance are the very innovations that are meant to simplify business and IT operations. These include data center consolidation, virtualization and the wide variety of applications that IT must support– all of which creates operational issues for IT. Not to worry – there are best practices that IT organizations can implement as application delivery challenges continue to evolve. In Part I of this blog post on application and services delivery, I’ll share what I consider to be key learnings from Dr. Metzler’s comprehensive 129 page guide. We’ll start with some core challenges:

Key Application Delivery Challenges

Proliferation of different types of applications: Today, companies utilize a wider variety of applications than ever. Some applications are business-critical. Others enable other business functions. And still more applications support communication and collaboration. Not only do they vary in criticality, but they also vary in their demands on the network. For instance, video streaming, which causes a lot of strain on the network may be key on some occasions (think company-wide all hands meetings a la Apple’s tribute to Steve Jobs), but recreational during other times. IT managers must audit company-wide application use, pinpoint a select group of business critical applications and formulate and execute a plan for optimization.

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