Can’t get application delivery controllers right? Here are ten tips

29 December, 2016
Can’t get application delivery controllers right? Here are ten tips

Chris Gale is Partner Director EMEA at A10 Networks.

Application Delivery Controllers are networking devices that reside in the datacentre and serve as a key part of an application delivery network. With the explosion in Internet traffic, business applications, and the number of Internet-enabled devices, application delivery controllers provide the front-end intelligence that supplements and enhances business application flows.

In addition to traditional load balancing, application delivery controllers provide a host of features that maintain availability, speed, and security of Internet-based applications. More advanced application delivery controllers offer critical datacentre functions such as application acceleration, layer 4-7 load balancing, application health-checks, SSL offload, DNS application firewalls, and DDoS protection.

Consider the check list below:

  • Is it time to refresh your application delivery controller?
  • Maybe your current box is end-of-life or you are looking for more functionality or better price-per-performance?
  • Or perhaps your application landscape has evolved and you are examining application delivery controllers providers to help optimise delivery?
  • Or to bridge your cloud and traditional on-premises application environments.

If your answer is yes to any of the above, here are ten important questions to ask an application delivery controller provider before you decide to buy.

#1 Can I run all application delivery controller features simultaneously?

You would not buy a car if you could not use every feature when you drive it. Imagine having to shut down the steering wheel to use stereo, or having to stop using the gas pedal in order to turn on the air conditioner. You would not feel like you got your money’s worth, and it would be grossly inefficient.

#2 What is the total cost of ownership?

You deserve to know how much your application delivery controllers are going to cost you in the long run. You do not need sneaky licensing fees and upgrades popping up at every turn to nickel and dime you.

#3 How do you support multi-tenancy?

Modern applications demand speed and security. Users do as well. When it comes to application delivery controllers, application delivery has to be optimised and secure, with few headaches. Often, companies are running hundreds of applications, each of which requires a specific set of policies. Application specific policies can be applied and tailored to individual applications to ensure that application performs the way you need them to.

Businesses need the granularity to provide specific application delivery controllers policies to most, if not all of their applications and user groups. These policies must be tailored to each individual application, but having one application delivery controller per application is not practical or feasible in certain environments. Application delivery controllers must support multi-tenancy and deliver the ability to have application specific policies — this is a must-have, not a nice to have.

#4 Is the application delivery controller easy to use?

Ease of use and integration are huge factors in the purchasing decision. That is why application delivery controller products must be completely programmable and interoperate with other complementary infrastructure gear. Leveraging setup and configuration methods used by mainstream vendors make devices easier to learn and deploy. Difficult-to-use APIs, that are not intuitive and do not adhere to industry norms, make operations more challenging and cumbersome. That can delay getting boxes up and running and require extra training for IT staff.

#5 What is your cloud strategy?

The world is moving to the cloud, along with many of your applications. Your application delivery controller vendor should have a finely-tuned cloud strategy that will help you bridge the physical and cloud-native worlds. This is especially true for service providers. If your application delivery controller vendor lacks solutions for cloud-native applications, multi-cloud environments and ADC-as-a-Service, are they the right partner to invest in for your business future?

#6 What sets your operating system apart?

Modern applications require speed and agility. If your box is running a legacy operating system or one that has not been updated or optimised in a few years, your applications may feel like they are running over dial-up.

#7 How do your application delivery controllers scale?

There is nothing more frustrating than a box that does not scale. Do not get burned by limited scaling, or by a forced upgrade or additional purchases to achieve the scalability your applications require.

#8 What do your customers say?

Before you take the plunge and side with an application delivery controller vendor, it is imperative to learn about what their customer base thinks about them and their service. Due diligence requires close examination of case studies, reviews, references.

#9 How stable is the executive leadership team?

Turmoil and turnover in the executive ranks can directly impact customers. It impacts productivity, decisions, and product direction and availability. Changes in leadership can create dramatic shifts and unsettle partners and customers.

#10 What is inside the trophy case?

Finally, technology awards are a great validation of the product.


Key takeaways

  • Application delivery controllers must support multi-tenancy and deliver the ability to have application specific policies — this is a must have, not a nice to have
  • Leveraging setup and configuration methods used by mainstream vendors make devices easier to learn and deploy
  • Difficult-to-use APIs, that are not intuitive and do not adhere to industry norms, make operations more challenging and cumbersome
  • Application specific policies can be applied and tailored to individual applications to ensure that application performs the way you need them to
  • Do not get burned by limited scaling or by a forced upgrade or additional purchases to achieve the scalability your applications require

Ten tips to select the right application delivery controller. Managing cloud applications, optimising user experience, plug and play integration inside the datacentre, are some of the check points while making that upgrade, mentions Chris Gale at A10 Networks.


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