Bigger is not better: manage applications to deliver improved network performance

Over the past few years organisations have come to expect more from their networks.

Over the past few years organisations have come to expect more from their networks.

Business managers have finally recognised that astute deployment of IT can enhance their competitive position dramatically. The spotlight has focused not only on maximising worker productivity but also on optimising the use of essential IT resources.

Rather than throw more money at upgrading the existing infrastructure, companies have been turning to a plethora of mission-critical business applications to gain business edge. These popular enterprise applications are being delivered out of increasing numbers of servers through more saturated network connections - and the result for business is proving disappointing.

The single biggest problem facing companies in the UK and elsewhere is how to remain competitive through effective use of current IT investments while boosting productivity through a smarter, more reliable delivery of applications to end-users anywhere, and reached through any internet provider.

As corporate networks and internet sites evolve there is a heightened demand for increased functionality. Organisations of all types - ranging from enterprises through to dotcoms, to hosting companies and service providers - all face this same need.

Opportunistic suppliers are taking one or a handful of these functionalities, wrapping them in a hardware box and selling them as a single appliance, but this is clearly not the answer. They will end up with a hotchpotch of point solutions that do not talk seamlessly to one another.

Introducing multiple products into a network infrastructure increases management complexity, degrades application performance and puts a big drain on the operational budget.

What is called for is a way of adding intelligence to a network so it can do more in a simplified and manageable way. Networking suppliers have introduced effective application delivery products that help enterprises meet the overwhelming demand for faster and more secure delivery of business-critical applications over any IP network.

These multifunctional Layer 7 devices, called application delivery systems, can cope with the performance constraints of traditional enterprise software and can effect up to 50% performance gains in the network.

Reducing the total cost

By focusing on major difficulties such as scaling existing infrastructure capacity and reducing network management complexity, application delivery systems reduce the total cost of operations dramatically. It is possible to double the throughput of caches, servers and firewalls.

TCP offloading is a significant cost element that can be cut by reducing the number of connections needed in the network by a ratio of as much as 600:1. Servers are released to do the job they are supposed to do - serving up business-critical applications effectively. Bandwidth utilisation can be reduced by up to 50% and content delivery charges cut.

The load on routers and switches is reduced by boosting the efficiency of existing sites. This cuts the number of servers and software licences required to serve the same application. All of these elements deliver big cost savings.

Application delivery systems offer all of the essential elements required for speeding up the network. They can provide 100% secure delivery of all application requests. In the face of attacks and legitimate network surges they support the continuous availability of applications. They yield reductions in the cost of operations and maintain full end-user responsiveness.

Such systems enable enterprises, e-commerce operations and content providers to optimise their networks for the continuous, secure delivery of all business-critical applications.

They also address and overcome the inefficiencies of existing infrastructure products and internet protocols, offering application protection and enabling application delivery without compromise.

With the fully secure delivery of applications, employees, partners and customers can enjoy continuous access to the content, irrespective of where they are or what browser they are using.

Application content is secured 100% end-to-end without affecting responsiveness. A single system can process up to 44,0000 Secure Sockets Layer transactions a second, compared with the usual 600 or 800tps of traditional devices.

True 24x7 application availability has to be linked to complete application protection - and these products offer this. Attacks that occur as a result of traffic surges are simply prevented from reaching the server. Wire speed protection against distributed denial of service attacks - which have increased dramatically this year - is provided, as well as protection against application-layer worm and virus attacks, which are also on the increase.

Integrated platform

Top of the line products have carefully woven essential performance functionality into an integrated platform to ensure that protection and security can be provided at wire speed and ensure an improved experience for the end-user.

For example, the size of application data can be reduced by 80% with compression, resulting in faster page downloads. This type of benefit not only saves precious IT spend but results in end-user productivity gains that benefit the business as a whole.

Problems relating to application availability, cost and security need no longer prevent organisations delivering business-critical applications on the web. Organisations, e-commerce operations and content providers can benefit from substantially improved network speed.

Sheen Khoury is senior vice-president of worldwide sales at NetScaler

Read more on Network software