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The Changing Requirements of Application Delivery Solutions

The correlation between the success of a company and its operational agility is no secret - the faster an enterprise is able to tackle new challenges and introduce new innovations, the more likely it is to be successful in those areas. The rapid pace of technological developments in the modern world has introduced wrinkles to this paradigm and left many businesses shackled to old methods of networking and legacy hardware even as new means of application delivery offer a path forward. The first step to understanding how businesses can take advantage of these new options is to consider where enterprise application delivery has come from and where it's going.
It almost seems hard to believe, given the industry-wide effects of globalization and the consumerization of IT, but for many years the sole means of networking and application delivery within enterprises was the internally managed Wide Area Network, or WAN. This intranet was deployed and managed by internal IT departments, giving enterprises near total control over the quality and capabilities of their networks in addition to the information and applications they delivered.

An effective and widespread practice, modern WANs are augmented by solutions including Application Delivery Controllers (ADCs) and WAN optimization controllers (WOCs) to address the network latency, bandwidth constraints, packet loss, and chatty protocols inherent in a widely distributed enterprise WAN. However, as companies become larger these solutions introduce issues of their own -- especially in terms of cost, complexity, and inevitable burdens on IT departments. By now it is clear that hardware solutions are no longer capable of overcoming the challenges presented by a mobile, hyperconnected world.

The Way Forward

While private WANs still occupy an important business role, a major consequence of the emergence of the cloud as a viable platform for business critical applications is that WANs no longer need to serve as the predominant network delivery service for distributed organizations. Instead, companies are moving in increasing numbers to hybrid WANs or fully Internet based solutions for internal application and content delivery. Rather than extend private WANs to each and every global supplier, customer, and remote employee, enterprises can utilize the capabilities and expertise of a managed service provider to take advantage of the ubiquity, global scale, and cost efficiencies of the public Internet and the cloud. The old way of handling this issue - with hardware or appliance-based Application Delivery Controllers - simply no longer fits the needs of today's enterprise.

Internet application delivery comes with its own unique set of challenges (a result of the decentralized design of the Internet itself), which is why it is imperative for companies who wish to take advantage of the Internet to deliver their applications to work with a managed provider capable of fulfilling their application delivery requirements. Modern Internet application delivery solutions are capable of driving down IT costs by greatly reducing the infrastructure necessary to deliver applications on a global scale. They can reduce IT complexity by eliminating the need to implement hardware or virtual appliance-based solutions that only address certain aspects of enterprise application delivery and increase agility by allowing enterprises to instantly scale bandwidth and performance on a global scale. They are also capable of increasing end-user productivity by increasing the usability of online applications and optimizing delivery to a wide array of devices.

The First Step

Perhaps the most important step an enterprise can take to ensure that they are able to effectively capitalize on the changing requirements of application delivery is to understand the types of solution providers available. Is the service managed? Is it highly distributed? Can it optimize presentation to end-users, particularly on mobile devices? How does it approach and provide web security?

Asking questions like these can help smart organizations and their IT departments understand and embrace the changing requirements of application delivery. With this knowledge, they can harness the obvious power of the web to reach new audiences and ensure that the Internet delivers the same performance, availability, and security that users expect when they access applications over a WAN. A managed service provider can also ensure that the nontrivial challenges associated with enterprise application delivery over the Internet are mitigated and accounted for.

To learn more about the challenges associated with application delivery in a hyperconnected world and what to look for in an application delivery solution, download the brand new eBook A Modern Guide to Accelerating Web-Based Application Delivery.