As the hype cycle around aspects of concepts like software-defined networking continue, customers are continuing to sift through and educate themselves to determine what is real and actionable. I have had my fair share of participation in several events over the last 24 months, and have been speaking to different audiences both gaining and sharing insights in the process.
One person I spoke with recently was Dr. Jim Metzler. We seem to be crossing paths at multiple venues including Interop, the Network World SDN roadshows currently underway in a few cities in the United States, as well, as at the Open Network Summit in Santa Clara a few weeks ago.
Jim has become the messiah of sorts, on some of these emerging technologies, and is frequently consulted -- both as part of his day job at Ashton, Metzler and associates and during his role hosting various industry panels on these topics. I thought it would be good to host the host and get some of his perspectives here, as we both got together at the recently held Open Networking Summit at Santa Clara.
Data centers have evolved from a simple client-server model to complex virtualized environments, with the network continuing to play a vital role to enable businesses to adopt new technologies and applications for growth and scale. The data deluge resulting from the exponential increase of video traffic and rich media applications along with and workload mobility, and users are bringing their own devices (BYOD) such as tablets and smart phones into the work environment, is driving significant change in information technology. The question in the minds of CTOs, IT Directors and Managers — even System Administrators — now becomes, Is your data center network really ready to meet these new challenges?
As part ofThe Data Center LAN Switching Thought Leadership discussion series, Dr. Jim Metzler, Moderator, Ashton, Metzler & Associates, discussed some of the key technologies that have driven the data center network evolution. The discussion focused on the viability of converging LAN and SAN environments along with the best approaches to scale Virtual Machines and incorporate OpenFlow and Virtualization into data center networks based on input from industry leaders - Cisco, HP, Arista, Avaya, Brocade, and Extreme Networks
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?
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
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.