This week I came across my still functioning iPod Classic “click wheel”. This was my exercise companion for many years and I still marvel at the engineering innovation (holds thousands of songs!) and simple elegance of the intuitive user interface (click wheel!). In today’s consumer society we expect our electronics to be intuitive. When announced in 2003 the “click-wheel” was years ahead at a time most electronics still came with detailed instruction manuals. Launching a consumer product with a click wheel was a radical approach, pushing the end-user experience to the very limits of engineering.
The Application Delivery Controller (ADC) market is very competitive, where every vendor claims that they have a performance advantage. Most IT Pros who need high performance ADCs and Load Balancers start by looking at specialized hardware appliances in order to meet their requirements. Then performance testing for L4-L7 throughput takes place and folks quickly realize that as more features are turned on, the performance quickly degrades. Forward-looking ADC buyers are now starting to look at software solutions that can run on commodity x86 hardware and that offer better performance at a fraction of the cost of specialized hardware.
Achieving agility is a paramount importance for enterprise IT today and one key area many companies are turning to for this is deploying higher degrees of network automation. This has led to the rise of software-defined networking (SDN), which is designed to drive automation and programmability network-wide. Cisco, the undisputed leader in networking today, has seized on this important market transition with its unique, application-centric approach namely, appropriately enough, the Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI). Cisco ACI has seen significant traction spurring our joint (Cisco and Avi Networks) customers to request deeper levels of integration between our respective solutions.
Wikipedia defines “Hyperscale” as: the ability of an architecture to scale appropriately as increased demand is added to the system. This typically involves the ability to seamlessly provision and add compute, memory, networking, and storage resources to a given node or set of nodes that make up a larger computing, distributed computing, or grid computing environment.
Lets try it in English this time . . .
Four factors are driving change in how applications are developed and deployed today.
First off, today’s users access applications and services from a plethora of devices in addition to their static desktops. They demand secure access from work, from home, and on the go – all with consistent and reliable performance.
Second, application architectures are evolving from traditional 2 / 3 tier models to distributed “microservices” architectures specifically to ensure efficient application delivery on mobile devices. This is exactly how applications at hyperscale companies such as EBay, Netflix, Twitter, and Amazon are architected.
Third, application deployment locations have changed. Applications may be deployed not only at on-premise enterprise datacenters but also at several public cloud locations such as AWS. In addition, applications may span multiple datacenters and clouds for redundancy and higher performance.
Finally, the efficacy of applications is now measured in terms of end-user engagement and satisfaction for both internal employees and external customers. As a result, end-user monitoring is critical for ensuring high quality service delivery and guaranteeing SLAs. Furthermore, the sprawl of microservices within and across clouds increases the need for improved visibility, monitoring, performance management, and security.
As an engineer, I know how hard it is to make things simple. I also know that any great solution must begin with a customer-focused mindset, and not one that creates technology for technology's sake.
At Avi Networks, we’re distinguishing our solutions with a single-minded focus on making things intuitively obvious. If that means adding a few extra weeks to the design cycle to make life easier for the user, we’ll do it. And every idea and conversation here begins by “walking in our customers’ shoes” because it’s essential that we truly understand their needs so we can invent new approaches that guarantee the best customer experience.
I’d like to share with you four stories that give you a glimpse into our thought process, design challenges and engineering priorities as we set out to create the industry’s first cloud application delivery platform.