Guest Blog: Why put your apps in the cloud?

Paul Coates

Why should you use the cloud?

Ultimately, business priorities should drive the decision, not simply some arbitrary need to streamline IT resources. It’s evident that the business advantages of moving to the cloud are significant and provide sustaining benefits. There are good reasons for this. One of the most compelling is elasticity — IT resources can automatically scale up and down as required by the business. The risks of under-provisioning and the costs of over-provisioning evaporate.

Running applications from an enterprise-grade cloud eliminates the need to sink excessive capital into complex and expensive hardware and other infrastructure components. Additionally, it eliminates the recurring and cumulative costs — a kind of tax, really — of maintaining hardware-based, on-premise infrastructure components. And, the cloud, no longer novel, has been widely utilised and is mature enough to support a large variety and scale of applications.

Shedding much of the costs of delivering services enables you to provide your customers with a much richer user experience and access a greater variety of apps and services. In the cloud, developers can put their ideas to the test sooner and potentially mitigate issues that otherwise might arise only after the application has been moved to production.

Cloud computing isn’t limited to a collection of virtual machines and storage you rent by the hour in a location far away from your data centre. Mature cloud providers offer the ability to extend existing on-premise infrastructures into cloud facilities, creating a unified architecture with the benefits of instant infrastructure. Applications can span both, and users need not notice the difference.

To better understand the business benefits of deploying applications in the cloud, let’s examine three compelling aspects:

1. Reduced complexity. Deploying applications in the cloud reduces the burden of hands-on system administration and allows you to spend more time thinking strategically. Application developers experience greater agility to innovate and contribute to your bottom line and avoid the wastefulness and boredom of day-to-day heavy lifting.

2. Reduced costs. The two biggest savings realised by many organisations that move to the cloud come from economies of scale and a usage-based pricing model. Pay-as-you-go brings true capital cost savings, eliminating the need to invest in unused capacity while ensuring that spikes in demand don’t cripple your business. As their processes mature, enterprises minimise operational costs by automating rote tasks using repeatable and standardised components and blueprints.

3. Increased flexibility and agility. The cloud offers increased agility, dynamic scalability, and faster speed to market. Imagine a scenario in which your IT department no longer sits idle while waiting for the UPS truck to arrive and no longer camps out in your data centre during the weekends to install new hardware. Cloud resources can scale to match demand at any point in time. Automation allows you to simplify and streamline formerly manual and cumbersome IT processes.

What should you worry about in the cloud?

Performance, availability, and security top the list of concerns that our customers mention. Notably, these same concerns apply to on-premise implementations, too. Our customers expect that they will receive similar levels of service, efficiency, performance, and security as their applications migrate to the cloud.

Together, these requirements constitute a certain degree of measurable business continuity. How can a shared platform, not under your control, deliver the same or better response times? How can it protect your applications from security threats? How can it ensure continued customer satisfaction, revenue growth, and productivity when network latency varies from one location to another?

In reality, these questions apply to any IT infrastructure, whether on premise or in the cloud. Deployment practices that alleviate these concerns work in any environment – traditional data centres, virtualised private clouds, public clouds, and hybrid clouds.

How do you deploy effectively in the cloud?

As you start to deploy business applications in the cloud, take some time to consider — or reconsider — your application delivery infrastructure. Does it provide the performance, flexibility, cost savings, and agility that you need, now and in the future?

Legacy load balancers sit in front of web and application servers. They accept requests on behalf of external users and manage the dialog with the application. They traditionally focus on enhancing reliability of the back end of the data centre, by ensuring availability and also scalability of applications. They implement features such as server offload and content caching to reduce application server costs. Traditional load balancers deal with problems that arise from traffic surges and spikes but with a server-side focus.

Applications undergo constant evolution, and one rapidly emerging property is a high degree of distributed processing across multiple locations. Application delivery solutions must similarly evolve to meet the requirements of large-scale distributed processing readily available in the cloud. Such requirements include:

  • Enhancing efficiency and response times of applications and services.
  • Improving availability between instances that span multiple geographic zones and regions .
  • Solving latency problems with content optimisation and acceleration tools.
  • Ensuring proper protection, using intelligent layer-7 inspection, against known and unknown threats .
  • Scaling resources to provide encryption and compression services without affecting performance

Yesterday’s load balancers and legacy application delivery controllers are not designed for the cloud. The mismatch is clear. Only a modern, cloud-ready application delivery solution can truly help you make this shift – software-based application delivery controllers (ADCs) have emerged as the right solution for cloud-based application deployments.

Software ADCs are natively designed for virtualisation and cloud portability. Pure software solutions are intended for the widest variety of deployments and enable a more flexible application delivery strategy. It’s the foundation of a true opex-centric resource model.

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