Optimising Hybrid Cloud Application Delivery

Written by Adrian Taylor, VP EMEA at A10 Networks

For digital businesses, success depends on application performance. Organisations must deliver the best possible experiences for employees and customers while driving innovation and ensuring security. To do this, enterprises are increasingly migrating application delivery to hybrid/multi-cloud environments to achieve increased agility and resiliency.

But are businesses achieving these benefits? A10 Networks and Gatepoint Research surveyed senior technology decision-makers around the globe, revealing key insights into their experiences delivering applications in the cloud and their priorities around application delivery controllers (ADC).

Today, the industry is at a crucial inflection point in evolving digital infrastructure. To ensure the success of their move to hybrid and multi-cloud environments and deliver the best service for customers, organisations must overcome the limitations of their current ADCs. Reducing the complexity of IT operations will be essential, especially as new technologies and evolving systems expand the skills required of IT staff.

Ultimately, the ADC will either enable digital success or impede it—depending on the choices IT leaders make now.


Cloud complexities

Businesses are now hosting their applications in a variety of environments, both public and private, and yet 74% of respondents continue to host applications in an on-premises data centre.

The combination of environments reported by respondents show the prevalence of a hybrid approach in which an on-premises data centre is leveraged in tandem with one or more types of clouds and vendors.

While this hybrid/multi-cloud approach offers great flexibility to choose the ideal environment for each application, it also increases the complexity of application delivery. Organisations need to manage application delivery and consistent policies across heterogeneous environments, including requirements such as performance optimisation, load balancing, and troubleshooting.


Application Migration initiatives show moderate success

Given the strategic importance of cloud migration, you’d expect that companies would be diligent in the planning and investment needed to achieve optimal results—but our findings tell a different story: only 26% of respondents said they had been highly successful in these efforts.

These unimpressive results show a clear need for better planning. Not all applications are suitable for all clouds, or for the cloud in general. IT organisations need to make the right choices about the right environment and provider for each application, and clearly think through the migration process. The more thought companies put into their cloud initiative, the more they’ll get out of it.


The role of an ADC is expanding

ADC functions are growing beyond the baseline uses, such as global server load balancing (GSLB), TLS/SSL Offload, and application acceleration and optimisation.

As cloud-native, microservice architectures transform the way applications are developed and delivered, 15% of respondents reported that they are using their ADC to control access to containerised applications. With security a perennial and rising concern, 12% of organisations are using their ADC for authentication and CAPTCHA access controls, a common feature in public commercial environments that is now making its way into enterprise planning. Given that digital business runs on DevOps, 10% of respondents are also using their ADC to support continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD).


ADC satisfaction shows room for improvement

As a critical element of digital business infrastructure, companies have a right to expect exceptional results from their ADC. Unfortunately, most fall short.

Only a third (34%) of IT leaders are highly satisfied with their solution, likely due to the limitations of older solutions in meeting the newer challenges like observability, analytics, and feedback to DevOps.

ADC requirements have changed over the years as companies adopt new technologies to support their business and employees. Meeting today’s standards for an exceptional digital experience calls for a fully modern infrastructure.


ROI is king

As organisations evaluate their next ADC solution, one consideration stands above all others: return on investment (46%). Over time, ROI depends on the lifetime value of a solution, so it is important to avoid getting locked into a deployment model that no longer fits an organisational needs. Interestingly, 9% of respondents cited flexible and portable licensing as a crucial consideration, a relatively new concept.

While moving to hybrid/multi-cloud environments can help companies achieve the application performance, business agility, and IT resiliency demanded by today’s digital businesses and markets, many are struggling to realise these benefits. Outdated application delivery infrastructure can make it difficult to address security threats, ensure availability, and deliver the best possible experience for customers and employees.

IT leaders are increasingly recognising the potential of the latest application delivery capabilities to solve problems more quickly, empower staff for greater effectiveness, and put data to work to improve performance, security, and uptime throughout the infrastructure, moving digital businesses into the future.

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