Optimizing Application Delivery From the Cloud

A lot can go wrong when applications are in the cloud.

Think about the federal government’s Cloud Smart strategy. The notion is that by moving workloads from in-house data centers to the cloud, agencies can meet their missions more efficiently and improve citizen services.

But as the number of cloud users and applications grow, so do the number of servers needed. How can agencies ensure application availability, providing enough bandwidth that they’re highly responsive for users?

Also, some agencies’ workloads can vary greatly every day. Hybrid cloud environments — and especially those that span multiple clouds — might be convenient to handle diverse workloads, but they’re challenging to manage. How can agencies manage this dynamic environment without getting a headache?

The solution is an application delivery controller, or ADC.

ADC is a network device that helps manage and secure applications served up over a network or the internet. Most of the time this means a cloud – which can be an agency’s private cloud, a public cloud like Amazon or Google, or a hybrid of private and public. An ADC lives in a data center, or cloud, controlling how applications are delivered to end users.

At its core, an ADC is a load balancer. A cloud environment has lots of servers for applications. As the name implies, load balancing helps maintain balance between those servers. To prevent one server from getting overloaded with too many requests, the load is balanced among several servers. If one server goes down, another takes its place. Load balancing ensures that applications are always available.

Independent of platform or form factor, an ADC can work in a physical data center or in a private, public or hybrid cloud environment. And It can run on traditional hardware or virtual appliances.

In looking for an ADC solution, you want to check for these capabilities:

First, the ADC solution should be automated. Once it’s set up, instances check in and check out resources without human intervention. And because of the nature of load balancing, users get an optimal experience while using applications, no matter where they’re hosted.

Also, it should be highly flexible. You should be able to increase or decrease bandwidth for an instance at run time without affecting network traffic. You should also be able to easily transfer licenses in the pool from one instance to another.

Finally, it should reduce risk. Application delivery controllers are an entry point to a network. They should authenticate each user attempting to access an application, making the process more secure. The ADC should also provide single sign-on, so users can sign in and authenticate once to use many applications.

As we said, a lot can go wrong when you move an application to the cloud. But that doesn’t need to be the case. A robust ADC solution can help your agency meet its service and mission needs by optimizing application delivery – and in the process, move you closer to being “Cloud Smart.”

This article is an excerpt of GovLoop Academy’s recent course, “Optiziming Application Delivery From the Cloud,” created in partnership with Citrix.

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