/ Digital Workspaces Guide / Chapter 8: Application Delivery

Application delivery and application delivery management

Today’s digital-first employees and consumers expect an always-on application experience that doesn’t sacrifice speed or security. Whether mobile employees are accessing a customer relationship management (CRM) platform, or customers are finalizing purchases through online shopping cart software, providing a seamless online application experience is critical for company productivity and growth.

It’s a challenge for large-scale business owners to keep up with these user demands while managing an influx of network traffic—especially when using outdated application delivery methods or both on-site and multi-cloud-based application environments. Fortunately, modern-day enterprises can turn to cloud-based application delivery and management infrastructures to meet increased traffic requirements, as well as streamline app functionality and security across any network.

Before diving into cloud-based application delivery infrastructures, it’s important to understand what application delivery is, the types of application delivery frameworks available, and the limitations of traditional, hardware-based application delivery methods.

An illustration of a laptop and cellphone connecting utilizing applications.
Illustration of a computer and description of what is application delivery.

What is application delivery?

Application delivery represents the suite of technologies used to ensure end-users can access a web-based software application (either from a data center or cloud environment) quickly, securely, and efficiently.

Application delivery networks

Application delivery networks (ADNs) deploy a combination of application delivery controllers (ADCs) and wide-area network (WAN) optimization controllers (WOCs) to provide application availability and visibility, as well as security and acceleration. Working together within the ADN, ADCs manage network traffic flow across many application servers, while WOCs support traffic demands with additional caching and compression to minimize the number of bits flowing over a network.

Application delivery controllers

At its core, application delivery requires ADCs to successfully route traffic across a WAN. ADCs are components of an ADN’s infrastructure that control, accelerate, and streamline how users connect to web-based application servers throughout a WAN. Robust ADCs typically provide:

  • Load balancing: Manages and distributes incoming traffic across multiple application servers. Advanced algorithms within ADCs analyze server capacity, the types of requested content, and end-user location to optimize accessibility and app performance.
  • Security: Provides the first line of defense against distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks through processes like firewall load balancing, intrusion detection and prevention, bot management, and web application firewalls (WAFs).
  • Caching: Integrates content into memory, which can speed up application delivery to end-users and reduce load times on servers.
  • Compression: Compresses large files to speed up application delivery and optimize network bandwidth.
  • Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) offloading: SSL processing—or the encryption and decryption process of network traffic—is offloaded on ADCs from the server. This speeds up application content delivery and frees up bandwidth resources.

ADCs are commonly positioned behind a firewall and in front of one or more application servers to act as main points of control. These controllers can then enforce application security measures and provide end-users with a streamlined authentication process and experience across the entire WAN.

Types of application delivery controllers

ADCs are incorporated into an ADN in three different ways, including using hardware appliances, virtual appliances (which include software pulled from legacy hardware), or cloud-based, software-only application delivery.

Traditionally, enterprises provided online application delivery to employees or customers through hardware-based ADCs. This method required proprietary software to run on hardware that featured specialized processors.

As traffic demands increased, IT departments would have to install more hardware, which made it difficult and expensive to scale an ADN. To stay prepared for new application support, many organizations would also funnel large capital investments to overprovision their hardware-based ADC infrastructure.

Simplified network scalability with application delivery software

As modern-day businesses ramp up their digital transformation initiatives—including using a mix of software-as-a-service (SaaS), cloud-hosted, and on-premises applications—hardware-based ADCs have a difficult time handling the high-intensity traffic demands from end-users in multiple locations. Cloud-based, software-driven ADCs, on the other hand, are much more elastic, cost-effective, and agile.

Utilizing a single code base, cloud-based ADCs can provide uniform application performance, security, and visibility across on-site and multi-cloud-based environments—including for both monolithic and microservices-based apps. These modern ADC solutions allow for easy ADN scalability, reduced hardware costs, and centralized management architecture that provides holistic visibility and control across all applications.

Centralized application delivery management

Delivering monolithic or microservices-based applications through multi-faceted, multi-cloud networks is challenging. Rather than managing a fragmented network architecture, cloud-based ADCs provide holistic visibility across both your on-premises and cloud environments. This centralized application delivery management (ADM) platform allows you to monitor and manage all apps from one single pane of glass. Through this point of view, your organization can easily:

  • Configure all applications across your multi-cloud network
  • View application performance, health, and security
  • Accelerate application troubleshooting
  • Gain in-depth insights and alerts from telemetry data

Benefits of a cloud-based application delivery platform

Cloud-based application delivery platforms ensure application functionality and content is reliably accessed by any end-user on a WAN. Some of the key benefits of a robust cloud-based application delivery platform include:

  • Streamlined infrastructure: Hardware-based application delivery controllers are cumbersome and difficult to scale. With cloud-based ADCs, you are better equipped to scale your ADN globally without compromising application delivery speed, security, or quality.
  • Minimized costs: With streamlined application access and improved end-user experience, you can spend fewer resources on customer support initiatives during network congestion or periods of poor app performance. Cloud-based application delivery solutions also reduce costs associated with acquiring and maintaining new hardware.
  • Heightened productivity levels: Employees can access business-related information and tools through on-premises or cloud-based applications faster. This leads to heightened productivity levels across multiple devices in internal or remote locations.
  • Optimized customer experience: With low latency levels, cloud-based application delivery systems ensure customers engaging with your applications experience high-speed processes—even during periods of intense traffic demands.
  • Integrated cloud app security measures: With features like integrated L3-7 firewall security, robust cloud-based ADCs can give you layered protection for all your applications and application programming interfaces (APIs).

Integrate modern application delivery solutions into your organization

Integrating modern, cloud-based application delivery solutions into your organization will provide your end-users with a fast, secure, and always-on application experience and help reduce hardware costs for your enterprise—regardless of how much traffic you're getting across your WAN.

This is especially true if your organization is shifting towards a mix of software-as-a-service (SaaS), cloud-hosted, and on-premises applications, as utilizing both on-site and multi-cloud environments introduces more intensive network bandwidth demands and security risks.

Ensure your organization’s application experience stays elastic, scalable, and secure for your employees and customers. Deploy a cloud-based application delivery solution to provide consistent connectivity and performance for your end-users today.


What is an application delivery controller?

An application delivery controller (ADC) is a component of an application delivery network (ADN) infrastructure that controls, accelerates, and streamline how users connect to web-based application servers throughout a wide-area network (WAN). At its core, an ADC is a load balancer that manages and distributes incoming traffic across multiple application servers to optimize application accessibility and performance.

How to secure cloud applications?

Securing cloud applications requires a variety of security measurements, including enabling multi-factor authentication (MFA), managing end-user permissions, deploying automated detection solutions to monitor user endpoints, revoking cloud access for unauthorized users, and training employees to recognize phishing schemes and maintain password best practices.

What is application delivery?

Application delivery represents the suite of technologies used to ensure end-users can access a web-based software application (either from a data center or cloud environment) quickly, securely, and efficiently.