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«Table of Contents Table of Contents Abstract Major IT Delivery Transitions IT Business Leaders Are Managing Application Performance Challenges ...»

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Application Velocity

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Major IT Delivery Transitions IT Business Leaders Are Managing

Application Performance Challenges

Application Performance Creates Corporate Value

An Architecture To Deliver Excellent Application Performance

Application Velocity: A Holistic Approach to Application Performance

Application Velocity Example

Industry Recommendations

About Nick Lippis

Abstract Information flow precedes cash flow, and in the Global economy networks and applications deliver intrinsic value to both. The huge investment in corporate application portfolios have never been optimized in a holistic manner, rather each application or suite of applications is optimized via specialized management tools. In today’s corporate world IT business leaders are faced with increasing application performance demands for both legacy and new cloud based applications to deliver excellent user experience while contributing to corporate agility. In this paper we offer a new holistic network service approach to application performance optimization called Application Velocity.

Application Velocity Major IT Delivery Transitions IT Business Leaders Are Managing Application owners and developers have been deploying and writing applications as if networks had no boundaries or were borderless. By application owners we mean IT departments chartered with IT application delivery and management. By application developers we mean in-house corporate software developers, independent software vendors or ISVs and software companies. There has always been a disconnect between applications and network architects where developers write applications to run over a network as long as there is connectivity. In addition, service oriented architecture (SOA) based applications call for greater application componentization, which increases messaging between application components resulting in the network having a direct impact on application performance. In essence application owners, developers and application standard bodies assume that networks are borderless as the industry is organized around the OSI model where knowledge and skills at one layer e.g., the network is not necessarily taken into account at another layer i.e., the application. Therefore, the normal state of affairs is that network designers have been tasked to optimize applications to improve user experience especially when the application was not written to run over a particular kind of network.

Every cycle of computing has brought with it this discontinuity between applications and networks with the possible exception of mainframe computing and SNA. Minicomputer applications designed for local ASCII terminal connections were extended over the Wide Area Network (WAN) and via virtual terminals. Clientserver computing applications designed to run over Local Area Networks (LANs) were extended over the WAN.

At first the internet was text based until the mid 1990s when the web was developed bringing graphics, audio and video to a network that needed a massive upgrade to support new media rich applications.

IT today is no different. Application developers are writing mobile applications at a frenzied pace thanks to Apple’s iPhone and iPad, Google’s Android, RIM’s blackberry and now Cisco’s CIUS etc. Legacy enterprise applications are being extended to mobile platforms too with the assumption of a suitable network for delivery. At the same time applications are being increasingly centralized into consolidated data centers creating greater distance between users and their applications plus data. Some estimate that over 80% of enterprises have under gone a data center consolidation process, which is significant, but we are just at the being of the centralization trend.

Thanks to the economics and performance offered by server virtualization much more consolidation will occur with associated challenges. For example, IT leaders require application tracking as applications are moved from Virtual Machine (VM) to VM as they tune/optimize their virtual infrastructure or respond to peak loads as well as manage VM failovers. In addition to virtualization, massive data centers we call cloud-computing facilities are being built to host applications at scale plus offer infrastructure, platform and other IT services.

According to the Yankee Group, 56% of IT business leaders seek to take advantage of cloud computing technology and build their own private cloud center while 24% seek a fully managed cloud computing facility.

In the same study, 32% of IT business leaders will seek a hybrid cloud approach; that is connect their private Application Velocity cloud to a service provider’s public cloud. While these market numbers are impressive they could be much higher as IT leaders express that their top three concerns as they consider cloud services is application performance issues, according to IDC.

In addition to increased mobile and cloud computing trends, video communications both ondemand and real-time has become the largest percentage of internet traffic type. In fact, Cisco Systems recently predicted that by 2014 video traffic will be greater than 94% of all global internet traffic!

This disconnect between applications and network architects will more then likely continue as application owners/developers/standards continue to view networks without borders and boundaries. However for most network architects there is no single network, but a wired network, wireless, campus, wide area, data center, branch office network, telecommuting network, mobile network, etc. In fact most enterprises have a diverse infrastructure in which they are tasked to delivery applications over and for those applications to perform at high standards. The good news is that network designers and architects are starting to build borderless networks that anticipate unforeseen application changes, are equipped with a portfolio of application performance features and simplify deployment and management of IT services. More on this below.

Application Performance Challenges

From the above discussion it’s clear that enterprise-computing applications are being demanded and stretched over increasingly borderless networks. Consider that the number of small or remote offices and mobile employees are increasing significantly. It’s impossible to argue the mobile computing surge with over

3.3 million iPads shipped in its first three months and new entrants such as Cisco offering its CIUS tablet for business users. In addition, data centers are being consolidated with cloud computing offering further consolidation and centralization of applications. Applications are changing too as developers add rich media features and video becomes a dominate application type. Employees, customers, partners and suppliers will be accessing applications over ever-larger distances, via a plethora of endpoints and different networks,

Application Velocity

To assure applications perform their task and deliver an excellent user experience, network architects and designers will be increasingly challenged with network capacity being taxed as a wider application portfolio competes for network resources. Today’s model of application performance optimization is to implement appliances within remote sites and data centers, which increases certain application performance, but at the high capital and operational expense of increased network complexity. In addition to network capacity and complexity issues, latency or application transaction delay and how to efficiently utilize data center resources are challenges faced by network architects as they seek to maintain high application performance over a borderless network. Relating specific application transaction problems to network behavior to ascertain if a correlation exists is yet another challenge.

Application Performance Creates Corporate Value

At the center of application performance is corporate performance. The ability of IT leaders to respond to executive management directives is directly linked to corporate performance. Executive management may be challenged with a competitive threat or a new market opportunity etc., requiring fast corporate response. IT leaders that can execute directives quickly have built an agile business capable of changing when markets or customers shift under them placing their corporation in a better competitive position to serve its customers and prospects. For example, consider a retail store under competitive pricing pressure where executive management decides to respond with an alternative offer. IT may be able to display the new offer via digital signage quickly allowing the business to respond.

Key to business agility is the IT attribute of rapid innovation absorption, that is, the capability to deploy new applications and technologies at the speed of business opportunity. Most IT infrastructure consist of innovation and features which are already in place, but IT organizations require knowledge, skills and tools to put them to work when needed.

A borderless network that is capable of application performance delivers these attributes of innovation absorption and business agility. In addition, IT resource utilization can be optimized, and most importantly to users is that they gain an excellent IT experience independent of geographic location, endpoint device, or application, which in the end improves productivity. As an example of optimal resource utilization, consider Cisco’s ISR G2 branch office router that integrates unified communications, wide area application optimization, network security, LAN/WAN networking plus supports its AXP or Application eXtension Platform which run applications at the branch office router. In one branch office an IT manager can deliver networking, security, voice and video communications and host applications while gaining visibility to applications. This type of resource utilization not only saves on capital cost and energy spend, but offers IT operational efficiency, rapid application deployment and innovation absorption.

Application Velocity

To gain the full value of corporate applications, their performance must deliver excellent user experience. An excellent experience should not only be had while working in the office or at home, but anywhere in between, even while talking on a mobile endpoint. Independent of geographic location, a user accessing their business services and/or personal services should be the same seamless experience. Application performance is key to excellent experience and should be consistently good whether sitting at a desktop watching a video or engaged in a WebEx conference, and then immediately transitioning to an iPhone for example. The user should have an excellent experience at the highest level afforded by their endpoint. To deliver this seamless user experience application performance the technology needs to being incorporated in corporate IT infrastructure, endpoint devices or a combination of both.

An Architecture To Deliver Excellent Application Performance

To enable a borderless application performance experience, IT business leaders need to consider borderless network architecture. While a few network suppliers such as HP, Avaya and Juniper Networks offer aspects of borderless networking, Cisco Systems is the furthest along in their thinking and delivery of borderless network architecture and the integration of application performance.

Cisco’s borderless network architecture is built upon five network services: 1) mobility or users in motion, 2) Energy efficiency called EnergyWise, 3) integrated network security via its TrustSec architecture, 4) application performance or Application Velocity and 5) video services via its MediaNet initiative. These borderless network services are built within switching, routing, security, wireless and wide area application services or WAAS infrastructure products. It’s the integration of these services into existing network infrastructure and their control via policy and management that enables a borderless experience to occur. In short, a borderless network eliminates the disconnect between applications and network designers by allowing the network to be aware of the applications that traverse it and endpoint capabilities that it connects. In this paper we’ll focus on the Application Velocity borderless network service as it pertains to a new holistic approach to enterprise wide application performance.

–  –  –

Application Velocity is a network service made up of three components: visibility, optimization and agility.

Visibility: As the old adage goes, “You Can’t Manage What You Can’t Measure.” The first component of Application Velocity is the ability to gain visibility into the network and the applications that it supports. To deliver this capability, Application Velocity is equipped with a discovery mechanism that finds and identifies applications in use. Applications can be classified and prioritized on an end-to-end basis, which the application carries with it as it traverses the corporate network. Once applications are discovered, their performance can be measured, baselined, and monitored to assure user experience expectations are being realized. To understand trending and analysis of application performance, the visibility component provides trending and analysis to aid application owners/developers and network designers gain insight into performance over a period of time.

Optimization: The second component to Application Velocity includes the traditional role of application and network optimization. This includes compression, caching and protocol optimizations as well as quality of service (QoS) based controls to deliver fast response to endpoints. In short, optimization includes the control knobs to tweak performance. In addition to application acceleration and optimization, this Application Velocity component delivers policy-based control of applications too, offering IT leaders the ability to inject corporate policy, such as user policy to application access. Once the network is improved, IT can compare the Application Velocity new optimized baseline with the pre-optimization baselines to show the value achieved. But application acceleration and optimization even with policy control does not provide a tool to distribute content effectively.

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