July 15, 2010

2010 Handbook of Application Delivery

  • The Emergence of the Application Delivery 2.0 Era
  • Jim Metzler, Co-Founder, Webtorials Analyst Division
While ensuring acceptable application delivery has always been important, it historically was not a top of mind issue for the majority of IT organizations.  That changed several years ago when IT organizations began to develop a concerted focus on it.  Throughout this handbook, the application delivery challenges and solutions of this era will be referred to as Application Delivery 1.0.

At the same time that many IT organizations are still in the process of implementing solutions that respond to the challenges of the Application Delivery 1.0 era, a new generation of challenges is emerging.  These challenges are driven in large part by the:
  • Emergence of a sophisticated mobile workforce
  • Shifting emphasis and growing sophistication of cyber crime
  • Adoption of varying forms of virtualization
  • Adoption of cloud computing

Throughout this handbook, the emerging generation of application delivery challenges and solutions will be referred to as Application Delivery 2.0.

As we enter the Application Delivery 2.0 era, leading edge IT organizations must develop plans for implementing an application delivery function that can respond to both the existing and the emerging challenges.  The development and implementation of those plans will not be easy, in part because the plans must cross myriad organizational boundaries and involve rapidly changing technologies never before developed by vendors, nor planned, designed, implemented and managed by IT organizations in a holistic fashion.  The primary goal of this handbook is to help IT organizations plan for that transformation.

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In this fourth edition of what is clearly the industry’s most extensive single-source reference on application delivery, Jim continues to explore a very wide range of topics covering all aspects of application delivery.

This 2010 edition adds a number of topics that have emerged in past year, so this is much more than a simple update. In reality, it’s a totally new product.

This is much more than just "a paper." With over 100 pages of editorial information, this can be considered the ultimate source on all aspects of this topic.

As Steve points out, this is the fourth edition of the Application Delivery Handbook. However, to me it feels like the first edition. I say that because as I point out in the handbook, some of the application delivery challenges that we have experienced for years (such as optimizing the performance of TCP) are still important challenges today. The good news is that we clearly have the technology to solve this set of challenge.

As the handbook also points out, some of the traditional application delivery challenges have morphed. Ensuring the quality of VoIP traffic is (surprisingly) still a very important problem today. That challenge, however, has morpehd into the broader issue of ensuring the quality of other real time applications such as video and telepresence. Again, the good news here is that we have the technology to solve this set of challenges. Another traditional challenge that has morphed is security. It was not that long ago that hackers were lone individuals with deep personality issues. A great example of that persona is Kevin Mitnick. That *@#$%@# hacked DEC in a major way when I was responsible for DEC's data network. I still dislike(!!) Mitnick. That said, we have seen the introduction of a new generation of cyber hackers. In addition to the Mitnick's of the world, we now have organized crime and rogue nations. We have some tools to fight off this new wave of hackers, but it is less of a slam dunk than optimizing the performance of TCP.

Then we come to virtualization and cloud computing. As the handbook points out (in detail), these two trends exacerbate some traditional challenges for which we have solutions, and also create a new generation of really difficult challenges for which we have few, if any, solutions.

Bottom line: We are starting all over again with a new generation of challenges that are building on top of an existing set of challenges which many IT organizations are still struggling to resolve. These challenges have two components: technology and internal IT politics. While the technology challenges are truly formidable, I would rather tackle them than deal with trying to change the culture of an IT organization.

Great job, Jim. This document is very thorough! It is one of the first to fully address the issues around packet loss, which are increasingly pervasive in MPLS and IP VPN networks. It is often the silent killer when running voice, video, VDI and other real-time traffic across the WAN.

Thanks for also raising awareness to the many challenges of doing backup/recovery across the WAN. As you point out, WAN optimization is no longer just a branch office solution - it is also neccessary to support many data center initiatives.

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