A CIO’s mantra for 2017: Relentlessly automate. Digitally transform.
The drive for IT agility is everywhere; to the extent that the word of 2017 is “transformation.” Whatever you call it, I find it astounding how fast we are innovating. The adoption of “cloud-like” architectures and microservices is outpacing the impact of virtualization just a few years ago.
As we look back at 2016 and the following stats, it is hard not to visualize the tremendous pressure presented to the online retailers and e-commerce vendors:
I am thrilled to share some exciting product updates with you today that our engineering team has been working on in close collaboration with some of our largest customers across financial services, technology and service provider verticals.
Imagine this scenario. It is a Wednesday morning and as the network administrator responsible for servicing business applications, you are processing a series of support tickets that arrived in the past few hours and the previous day. One of the high severity items on your plate this morning is from an application team that has been debugging poor performance of a business critical application. They have received complaints from end users and the line-of-business manager is concerned about potential revenue impacts. The application team has been frantically looking at their logs and haven’t quite pinned down the problem. They now believe it is an issue with the network and want your help finding the source of the problem. By the time the problem has been escalated to you it is already late and they want answers immediately. And just to add to the problem complexity, the issue has been happening sporadically for the last couple of weeks. What do you do?
Enterprises are facing significant changes in the way that they need to think about application deployment. They are taking a critical look at choices for their computing infrastructure, application services, and tooling. Many enterprises are making changes up and down the networking stack to drive automation with API-driven capabilities that empower application developers. Specifically, new thinking is driving decisions about load balancers or application delivery controllers (ADCs). In a recent blog post, Andrew Lerner of Gartner says, “Application-centric personnel drive a return to lightweight, disaggregated load balancers, creating challenges and opportunities for I&O leaders.” You can read more about this in the Gartner’s research note (subscription required) on the topic.
I recently came across a SaaS company that required support for Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS) for better SSL security. They bought 4 pairs of [redacted] ADC / load balancers from a proprietary hardware vendor to perform the SSL PFS termination. At first glance, this seems like a safe, logical decision. Just like real estate was a safe and conservative investment strategy in 2006 before the bubble burst, or .com stocks in 2000 right before the stock market's implosion.
Load balancers and application delivery controllers have one critical job. No, it's not distributing clients across servers, though that is an important aspect of their job. At its core, a load balancer's task is to reduce risk. One of the most common vectors for the introduction of risk is the complexity of a system, such as a legacy load balancer.
Take an example of a jet engine. It is comprised of numerous components, each adding its own complexity and potential for failure. By taking advantage of new technologies, such as 3D printing, GE has been able to reduce their jet engine's 25 part fuel injection nozzle down to a single part. This helps reduce cost, time to market, and complexity from the overall system, which also improves the reliability of the engine. At its core, it reduces risk. In the context of application delivery and load balancing, what if a single button can guarantee optimal SSL security settings or maximize application acceleration?
With any disruptive innovation, there will always be innovators and early adopters who eagerly jump on the bandwagon. Today, we’re seeing more and more businesses move to the cloud as users take advantage of its utility-based model and associated economic benefits. So why isn’t everyone “crossing the chasm” and what will it take to persuade the late majority and laggards to move to the cloud?