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Virtualized Infrastructures in the Enterprise

The emergence of LOB on-demand load balancing

Faced with competitive pressures demanding increased IT agility, Line-of-Business (LOB) managers have been increasingly relying on virtualized infrastructures to accelerate deployment of critical application workloads. Server virtualization has rapidly become the default platform for modern datacenters with some 50% of all new workloads deployed in a virtual machine (VM).

Three key attributes of server virtualization have accelerated this trend. First, excellent server-to-server and resource-to-resource isolation facilitate dynamic sharing of core data center hardware, ensuring that peak demand from one LOB does not affect the service quality for other workloads. Even though they draw from a common pool of shared hardware infrastructure, there is no need for autonomous LOB IT projects to be coordinated if they all run in their own well-isolated virtual environments.

Second, the self-service provisioning features offered in modern server virtualization platforms has ensured that LOB projects can proceed at a business-dictated tempo, unaffected by the too-often-opaque workings of the Central IT priority queue. Third, granular visibility of resource utilization has enabled a metered ‘utility' chargeback model, allowing for LOB budgetary autonomy and accountability, well aligned with recent shifts in IT budgets to the LOB.

As a result, many organizations are rethinking their approaches to up-front purchasing and on-going IT management costs, switching from the traditional centralized systems cost model to a more agile and flexible application-based model.

Server virtualization is effectively putting business managers in closer control of the computing environment, driven by dynamic market and operational needs and with a pay-as-you go approach to deploying applications. You simply buy what you want when you need it, and scale up and down as required. For example, a major bank recently rolled out a new mortgage application system, upgraded to Exchange 2013 and deployed new unified communications and ERP solutions in a matter of months.

The New Agile Enterprise
With big iron, hardware-format ADCs located in the heart of the data center, it is challenging to deliver on-demand, right-sized capacity, scale-as-you-grow models to multiple LOBs and virtually impossible to implement a self-service model maintaining departmental autonomy and project control.

An ADC directly assists in the management of client connections to enterprise and web-based applications. ADCs are normally deployed behind firewalls and in front of the application servers and make networks and applications more efficient by managing the processing of traffic shaping and distribution. A bit like traffic police, the ADC directs client access requests to the best performing servers based on factors such as concurrent connections, CPU load and memory utilization. This makes sure that bottlenecks do not occur to reduce performance; and if a server or application fails, the user is automatically re-routed to another functioning server. This process is seamless to the user and critical to delivering an optimized and reliable experience.

"With a forecast expected to approach $2.3 billion in 2017, virtualization, cloud and data center consolidation are all key signs driving growth in the application delivery controller market," said Casey Quillin, Senior Analyst of Data Center Appliance Market Research, Dell'Oro Group. "The core market drivers, however, remain sound and we are only just beginning to see the positive impact of the public cloud on virtual ADCs."

There is growth in demand for affordable load balancing among SMBs as they ramped up the number of servers needed to run their mission-critical IT operations and deploy more web-based applications. But by offering the option of both hardware and virtual appliances for VMware and Hyper-V, ADC companies can support larger enterprises as they migrate from hardware to virtual infrastructures.

With more companies moving their IT into the cloud, application-layer traffic management capabilities for mission-critical applications running in Microsoft Azure are also needed. Once again, tight integration is key and the load balancer needs to run directly on the cloud platform rather than just directing traffic to the Azure network to deliver higher performance and optimal throughput.

The Virtual Future
Unlike some trends in computing, virtualization and the cloud do look like they are changing the face of enterprise IT for the long term. Forrester believes that 77% of organizations will be using virtualization by the end of this year. But what is more important is how businesses will harness this new flexible and scalable enterprise environment to become more dynamic, productive and competitive. It appears that for the first time the business user is in charge of the machine - albeit a virtual one.

More Stories By Atchison Frazer

Atchison Frazer, CMO at KEMP Technologies, has over 20 years’ experience in technology marketing for both global IT leaders like Cisco and HP, as well as disruptive market-maker start-ups like Gnodal (now part of Cray) and Fortinet.

At Cisco, Atchison was responsible for marketing and communications, services strategy and sales enablement to support Cisco’s global enterprise theatre and enterprise transformation market segments. He also served as the enterprise marketing lead for network optimization, security services, professional advisory services, solutions architecture, emerging technologies, and acquisition integration.

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