August 5, 2011

2011 Application & Service Delivery Handbook

This is the fifth edition of what had previously been called the Application Delivery Handbook.  Partially in recognition of the fact that on an ever increasing basis that IT organizations need to support complex services that are comprised of multiple, inter-related applications, this years edition of the handbook is entitled "The 2011 Application and Service Delivery Handbook".

When the first edition was published in 2007 one of the primary goals of the handbook was to help IT organizations understand that successful application delivery involves more than just making sure that protocols such as TCP and CIFS run well over the WAN.  Interestingly enough, many of those traditional service delivery challenges are still of concern to the majority of IT organizations.  However, as described in this year's handbook, driven largely by the broad adoption of virtualization and cloud computing, IT organizations are facing a new wave of challenges - many of which are far more daunting than anything we have seen before.

One of the biggest changes that we have made to the handbook is that the 2011 edition will be published both in its entirety and in a serial fashion. We hope that will make it more readable and yet still allow us to provide a holistic view of this very important topic. We also tried to make the handbook more succinct in part by taking reducing content that is now well known.

In order to reflect the breadth of the movement to implement cloud computing, this year's handbook introduces the concept of a Cloud Networking Service (CNS).  The great interest in cloud computing also drove a number of other additions to the handbook, including a discussion of cloud balancing.  Because of the great interest in both virtualization and cloud computing, the handbook identifies the management and optimization challenges that are of most interest to IT organizations. 

The handbook also describes how virtualized application delivery appliances and cloud based optimization and management solutions can help IT organizations respond to these challenges.  Given the extremely difficult management challenges associated with both virtualization and cloud computing, the management section of the handbook contains an added emphasis on application performance management and introduces the concept of application performance engineering.

We hope that the handbook is helpful to you and we invite you to send us suggestions for how you think we should change it for 2012.

New! Full Report
Executive Summary
Part 4: Network and Application Optimization
Part 3: Planning and Management
Part 2: Virtualization, Cloud Computing, and Optimizing & Securing the Internet

Part 1: Challenges

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When we first published the application delivery handbook in 2007 it had a dramatic impact on how IT organizations think about application delivery in large part because it was the only document that gave a holistic view of the topic. We believe that this year’s edition of the handbook will have a similar impact because we see IT organizations as being caught in a vice. On one side of the vice, most IT organizations are still struggling to respond to traditional application delivery challenges such as ensuring the acceptable performance of VoIP traffic. On the other side of the vice, because of the ongoing adoption of virtualization and cloud computing, IT organizations are facing a new wave of application delivery challenges – many of which are far more daunting than anything we have seen before.

We wrote the handbook in such a way that it strikes a balance between summarizing the traditional challenges and the traditional solutions and providing more detail on the emerging challenges and the emerging solutions. We look at the handbook as a must read, and a must have reference, for any IT organization that is serious about application delivery.

In the second of the serial publications of the 2011 Application and Service Delivery handbook and it covers a lot of ground relative to the changes to our jobs being brought about by virtualization and cloud computing.

One of the sections in this publication is devoted to three of the most popular forms of virtualization: server virtualization, desktop virtualization and virtualized appliances. As we do throughout the handbook, we use recent market research to identify both the current interest and the challenges associated with these three forms of virtualization. But we don’t want to use the handbook just point out the challenges. Where possible, we also discuss the technologies, both existing and emerging, that enable IT organizations to respond to those challenges.

In the publication we look at the current state of cloud computing and put a stake in the ground relative to what you can expect in the near term relative to SLAs from the cloud computing service providers (CCSPs). We also included in this publication a discussion of the advantages and challenges that are associated with cloud balancing.

Up until now, the major impact of cloud computing on networking professionals was the challenge of figuring out how the network had to change to support cloud computing. While that is still an important issue, in the attached publication we discuss a new and rapidly growing category of services that are available from CCSPs. That class of services is traditional network and infrastructure services such as VoIP, unified communications, management, optimization and security. This now presents networking professionals with a new challenge: determining the traditional IT functions that are best provided by one or more CCSPs.

excellent book.

This is the third of the serial publications of the 2011 Application and Service Delivery Handbook. This publication consists of two sections – a somewhat brief section on planning and a slightly lengthier one on management.

We all know that successful application delivery requires a wide range of functionality including optimization and security. Because there are a wide range of vendors that provide optimization and security products, those components of application delivery are discussed frequently. Unfortunately, we don’t discuss planning anywhere near as often and it is just as critical to the success that an IT organization will have with application delivery as any other component of IT.

Our market research indicates that getting better at managing SLAs for a small set of business critical applications is one of the top management tasks facing IT organizations. As a result, managing SLAs is one of the planning activities that is discussed in the handbook. An issue that has bothered us for years is that IT organizations continue to develop applications with little or no focus on how well that application will perform over a WAN. With that in mind, another planning activity that is discussed in the handbook is Application Performance Engineering (APE). The goal of APE is to anticipate, and wherever possible, eliminate performance problems at every stage of the application lifecycle.

The primary goal of the management section is to create a framework for Application Performance Management (APM) that IT organizations can modify and adopt in their environment. The management section identifies some of the management challenges associated with APM as well as some of the techniques that IT organizations can use to respond to these challenges. Given our growing interest in cloud computing, the section also focuses on the impact of cloud computing on APM.

Not that long ago when we talked about optimization we were talking almost exclusively about functions such as protocol optimization, compression and SSL offload being performed in a hardware based appliance. Those are still important optimization functions and hardware based appliances are still the most common form factor.

That said, we are seeing not so subtle shifts in the use of optimization functionality. One shift we see is the growing importance of optimizing communications based traffic (e.g., VoIP, video, telepresence) as well as the growing focus that IT organizations have on optimizing the performance of a small set of business critical applications. We are also seeing the growing importance of optimizing the huge volumes of traffic that go between data centers.

While those shifts are occurring, we also see that the vast majority of IT organizations are being increasingly being impacted by virtualization and cloud computing. Part of the challenge that virtualization and cloud computing presents is that IT organizations now need to ensure acceptable performance for the applications and services that it acquires from a cloud computing service provider. However, virtualization and cloud computing also create opportunities. For example, IT organizations can now deploy virtualized application delivery appliances and can also acquire optimization from a cloud computing service provider.

This is the fifth and last of the incremental publications of the 2011 Application and Service Delivery Handbook. We published the handbook in a serial fashion for the first time this year in order to make it more readable. With that goal in mind, this publication includes a brief executive summary. It also includes a copy of the entire handbook.

Given the growing difficulty and importance of ensuring acceptable application and service delivery, we are sure that we will update the handbook in 2012. If you have suggestions for how we should modify the handbook, kindly let us know.

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