In many IT organizations, the WAN does not matter. What you do with the WAN, however, matters greatly. One of the primary roles of the WAN is to enable acceptable application delivery. We are entering a new ear of application delivery – one that we refer to as Application Delivery 2.0. The challenges of the Application Delivery 2.0 era will be notably more complex and challenging than are those of the current era.
While ensuring acceptable application delivery has always been important, it historically was not a top of mind issue for most IT organizations. That changed a few years ago when IT organizations began to focus on ensuring acceptable application delivery. They did this by deploying a first generation of solutions that were intended to mitigate the impact of chatty protocols such as CIFS (Common Internet File System), to offload computationally intensive processing (for example TCP termination and multiplexing) off of servers, and to provide visibility into the performance of applications. Unfortunately, the IT organization of a few years ago typically approached application delivery from a tactical, stove-piped approach.
Jim and Steve try to avoid cute marketing clichés. Hence, we are hesitant to use the phrase Application Delivery 2.0 as it sounds so much like just one more marketing cliché. However, we see distinct evidence, both from vendors and from IT organizations that we are indeed entering a second generation of application delivery.
Part of the characterization of Application Delivery 2.0 is that IT organizations are beginning to face a new set of challenges. That does not mean that the traditional challenges of supporting chatty protocols or maximizing the performance of servers have gone away. As is so often the case in our industry, IT organizations have to support traditional or legacy technologies and challenges at the same time that they have to respond to new technologies and challenges.
One of the new challenges facing IT organizations stems from the changing role of the mobile worker. A few years ago, there were relatively few mobile workers and the communications needs of the mobile workers of that era were satisfied with simple cell phones. That is no longer the case. Now it is common to have 25% or more of employees be mobile at any point in time. These employees have smartphones or other wireless devices that they routinely use to access business-critical applications. This introduces all of the performance and security issues associated with wireless networking into the mix of application delivery challenges.
In the next WAN newsletter we will continue to discuss the challenges that are driving Application Delivery 2.0. We will also mention some steps that IT organizations are taking to respond to these challenges.