Cloud computing has emerged as the new model for the delivery and consumption for IT resources and Applications. Given the economic appeal and agility of this model, both small and large scale organizations are increasingly leveraging cloud computing for their workloads. Thus Cloud has become the most common deployment model today and you must have heard of networking services within Cloud. But what really is “Application Networking” and why it has to be in Cloud?? Interesting question with even interesting answer!!
Application Networking is all about the networking services needed to ensure your Applications are available, scalable, optimized, accelerated and secured. You need these services today for every Application which is in line of business and even for non-critical Apps. With the adoption of Cloud we started moving all our Applications to Cloud but the infrastructure pieces were thought about later. So if you want your Applications to be available, scalable, optimized, accelerated and secured in the Cloud deployment then you certainly need Application Networking services there!!
Many times we confuse Application Networking with just Load Balancing in the Cloud. Load Balancing is certainly the core element but Application Networking today has a broader purview which covers Application Caching, Compression, Layer 7 content optimization, Content rewrite, Policy processing, Application firewalling, Attack protection, Global server load balancing and many others. Thus the impact of Application networking services is huge on the Application deployment immaterial of where it is deployed. While Applications were deployed in Enterprise datacenter, it was always tightly controlled and everyone used the Application networking appliances to get all the services. With Cloud there are set of new challenges with virtualizing the core Application networking services.
The challenges start with virtualization of core Application networking services and their delivery from Cloud platforms. Then comes the challenge of dealing with physical appliances versus virtual appliances followed by the ability to ensure multi-tenancy with best possible security. Various Cloud providers like Amazon EC2, Rackpace and others have already added the core Load Balancing services to their Cloud offering and looking forward to other rest of the services to make their customers avail other optimization, acceleration and security benefits beyond the availability concerns addressed by pure Load Balancers. Most of the providers let you select and setup the key parameters on Load Balancers to ensure that your Application infrastructure is highly available. But most of this is still done manually and there seems to be a need for automation. Will cover that later 🙂
Thinking of what we offer from Citrix, the two key products NetScaler and CloudStack come to mind. NetScaler is the leading Application Delivery Controller which provides best availability, optimization, performance and security services to the Applications. While CloudStack is the leading Cloud Software platform providing a turnkey Cloud infrastructure software stack for delivering virtual datacenter as a service. It will be interesting to see how we get these products closer to delivery top quality solution for Cloud Application Networking. Good topic to think of during holiday time…. 🙂