The other day, Sunil Potti blogged about how two forces, consumerization and the rise of the cloud, were forcing IT to change not only how it does things, but what it fundamentally does. And what its doing is evolving from application delivery to service delivery.

At Your Service
Before discussing service delivery, we should define what we mean by “service”. If you are already using cloud services for your email, your photos, your backup, your customer tracking… you’re already used to it without hanging a name on it.

Service delivery then comes down to this: IT no longer owns the apps, the devices used to access them, or the infrastructure on which they run. But IT still needs to guarantee that wherever the new services business runs – in a datacenter, at a SaaS provider, or in a IaaS cloud – and whatever they’re accessed with – a corporate-owned laptop, a tablet, a smartphone – performance and availability and security remain assured.

In order for services to be delivered effectively, a new approach to building networks is needed. This in turn calls for a new class of platform, which enables new capabilities that go beyond just web app load balancing and optimization.

The Shape of Networks to Come
With so many paths for information to travel – from your own datacenter or a provider’s or between them, to so many different devices, anywhere on the planet or even 35,000 feet above it – the traditional hierarchical structure of networks can be a tremendous bottleneck. Disparate networks need to be overlaid with a fabric that bridges enterprise and provider networks, making them appear as one. With an overlay fabric in place, IT can monitor and manage the delivery of information and implement policies to meet SLAs, across both physical and ownership boundaries.

Now (On)Boarding on the Next Platform
The last thing IT organizations want to do is invest in more capital to build out a new infrastructure. They’ve made this clear in the world of servers, as server consolidation has gone mainstream. The same applies to networking. What’s needed is not just seamless network connectivity, but also consolidating without compromising performance or availability. And just as server consolidation drove new types of servers, network consolidation calls for a new types of network devices.

Now it’s Not Just About the Apps
Since service delivery transcends web apps and protocols and ownership, the network has to support more types of information, more parts of the puzzle, and more complete visibility. It has to be about data and desktops as well as apps; it has to be about monitoring, visualizing, and managing performance and availability in terms of the services themselves.

Citrix Delivers – Service Delivery Networking
To meet the challenges of service delivery networking, Citrix is introducing solutions to deliver on each of the three needed areas of change: a new platform for consolidation without compromise, ability to create a fabric overlay and new services-centric capabilities.

The new network can’t come at the price of appliance sprawl. Both enterprises and service providers need to be able to combine the functions they need with the consolidation they want to gain, to support multiple apps, locations, and customers effectively. And they want to do it without compromising on performance or security. A new “front door” to the virtualized datacenter is needed.

The solution is a new platform, NetScaler SDX. It combines the full power of NetScaler MPX hardware with the consolidation potential of virtual appliances. NetScaler SDX runs multiple full instances of NetScaler – not just lightweight hacked-on “partitions” – on a single box. Each NetScaler instance can serve a user community or an app or a customer with its own policies and with full isolation – guaranteeing that no user or app can compromise another’s performance or security. And the full power and acceleration of the hardware platform is available to all instances.

In fact, NetScaler SDX goes beyond software virtualization by taking advantage of Intel SR-IOV hardware virtualization technology, which makes each instance think it has its own dedicated NICs, offering full hardware networking performance with full isolation.

NetScaler SDX, MPX and VPX are enhanced by new networking capabilities that make the off-premise clouds appear as a natural extension of the enterprise network. An overlay fabric based upon L2-3 tunneling, global traffic management and WAN optimization provides the transparency needed to build hybrid clouds that span premises. And Citrix OpenCloud Access provides the same federated view for user identity and permissions – enabling users to sign on and select apps, even SaaS apps, from a “single pane of glass” – and making it easy for IT to provision and revoke apps and services, no matter where they run.

With so many of the new services business is consuming as data intensive as they are, it’s important to protect and optimize the data as much as the app. As we announced recently, NetScaler DataStream technology delivers load balancing, optimization, and security to support scaling the database tier. The same goes for delivery of desktops and Windows apps. NetScaler can make XenDesktop and XenApp implementations more cost-effective by hosting the web interface service, and can handle health checks to assure desktop and Windows app delivery.

Putting it together
For ADCs to evolve to full service delivery, lots of things change – the network, the controllers that build it out, the capabilities they provide. IT can meet the challenges – and champion the changes that let their users, lines of business, and customers have it their way – by driving, rather than blocking, the evolution. And Citrix is the one partner with all the pieces.