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Look before you leap

Image: Adobe Stock / Connect world

Adrian Taylor, regional vice president at A10 Networks highlights the five key questions you should be asking before delivering your applications to the cloud.

The time has come for enterprises around the world to face the truth: the traditional data centre is dead and gone. In its place, multi-cloud, hybrid and container-based infrastructures have risen.

According to research from Aberdeen, 33% of businesses have implemented a hybrid cloud, and 23% plan to within the next year. What’s more, 80% of businesses using the cloud have a multi-cloud strategy.

While cloud migration offers an abundance of benefits, from increased agility to more efficient scalability, it also presents a number of challenges for application delivery and optimisation.

Below are the challenges and questions companies should look at before delivering their applications to the cloud.

How a multi-cloud and microservices infrastructure has transformed the application lifecycle

The widespread move to the cloud and microservices infrastructures has had a profound effect on the way applications are built and delivered. After all, IT was traditionally built for on-premises application infrastructures.

Yet, as organisations continue to adopt microservices, DevOps and agile methodologies, new stakeholders are involved in app delivery.

Under those stakeholders, applications will be delivered and optimised in new and more modern ways.

Top challenges of a multi-cloud strategy

As multi-cloud infrastructure adoption continues to grow, companies are confronted with a number of challenges.

There are four of the most prevalent challenges cited by enterprises:

  1. Too much application infrastructure complexity (39%)
  2. Application infrastructure can’t meet growing demand (38%)
  3. No end-to-end application management (30%)
  4. Can’t monitor the entire application environment (20%)

Those statistics clearly demonstrate that although companies are willing to adopt a multi-cloud strategy, the hurdles they must overcome as a result are both numerous and significant.

To get a clear view of the challenge’s organisations might face when migrating your apps to the cloud, they need to ask themselves these five key questions:

1. How do they keep track of all my applications in one place?

If applications are running in multiple environments across multiple clouds, it makes sense that they’ll be more difficult to monitor than if they were in a single data centre.

So, organisations need to determine how you’ll gain visibility into application health and performance from one central location.

Solution: Visibility and analytics

Advanced load balancing keeps apps running with efficiency and reliability. Powered by machine learning it can:

  • Set baselines for application performance, user behaviour and more.
  • Provide superior visibility into which assets are doing well and which may be due for an overhaul or have reached end of life.
  • Enable faster troubleshooting so there are fewer interruptions.
  • Automatically detect anomalies for proactive and predictive responses.
  • Improve the user experience.

Organisations that succeed in application delivery are 40% more likely than competitors to have complete visibility into their application usage and performance.

2. Are applications safe in a multi-cloud environment?

When applications are delivered in a multi-cloud environment, they’re subject to a great deal of traffic, and that traffic may contain any number of threats. WhiteHat’s 2018 Application Security Statistics Report put it best:

The number of serious vulnerabilities continues to increase at a rate that makes remediation nearly impossible, if teams continue to rely on traditional methods.’

Solution: Maintain consistent security and compliance.

With the rise of 5G, the internet of things (IoT) and a number of other technological advancements, cyber-attacks are only growing in scale and breadth.

Thus, security is a shared responsibility in the public cloud — enterprises can’t simply rely on cloud providers for total security.

But, bolt-on security solutions are often complicated and difficult to configure. Instead, successful companies seek out security solutions that can be integrated into their load balancer.

3. Should I consider private and hybrid clouds?

Cloud infrastructures are not one-size-fits-all. Rather, companies need to consider their individual needs before committing to a cloud.

To ensure that you choose the right cloud solution for your business, you’ll need to develop precise requirements and evaluation criteria. Also remember to take automation into account — without it, adoption can become its own challenge.

Solution: Deploy intelligent automation

In modern multi-cloud and microservice-based architectures, integration and automation are now a necessity.

With the ability to automate the application delivery, security and load balancing solutions they have in place, organisations can:

  • Save time
  • Increase accuracy
  • Improve business efficiency

4. How do organisations manage the complexity and cost?

IT teams can’t immediately move from an on-premises infrastructure to a multi-cloud strategy. To be successful, they’ll need to develop the skills needed to efficiently deliver and manage applications in the cloud.

However, those skills aren’t easy to learn, and companies can’t simply hire new talent. According to a 2018 report from OpsRamp, 94% of IT organisations are struggling to find the talent they need to build the flexible, dynamic and cost-effective cloud services they want.

As businesses work to build and recruit the right cloud talent, they also need to find a realistic way to manage the complexity and cost associated with cloud migration.

Solution: Keep management centralised

In a multi-cloud and microservices infrastructure, traffic is flowing between many locations at once. Managing that traffic can turn into a headache and a time drain, especially for teams that are still developing their cloud skills.

To effectively manage all that traffic, leading companies turn to centralised management systems. Such systems deliver operational efficiency across multiple environments by:

  • Reducing administrative workloads
  • Providing powerful and granular policy control from a single location

5. What do organisations need to enable optimised and flexible application portability and performance?

According to LightStep’s 2018 Global Microservices Trends Report, 91% of organisations are using or plan to use microservices.

Solution: Simplify and enable application portability

As companies use containers and microservices for increased flexibility, scalability and automation to manage application performance, they also need to implement systems that bring improved traffic management and optimisation.

How effective application optimisation and load-balancing services can lead to success in the cloud

As organisations shift their applications to a multi-cloud and microservices infrastructure, they must also change the way they approach advanced application load balancing.

These are the three most important components of advanced load balancing:

  • Analytics designed for today’s infrastructure

With applications scattered across multiple environments, it’s vital for organisations to maintain full visibility and detailed analytics that can be viewed from a single source. That way, they can isolate issues as they arise and optimise application traffic.

  • Application management for agile practices

Agile methodologies are becoming increasingly common. In 2019, CollabNet VersionOne’s 13th annual State of Agile survey, 97% of respondents said their organisations practice agile development methods.

However, traditional application management solutions can create bottlenecks and slow down application deployment. This directly conflicts with the quick, iterative nature of agile development.

Knowing this, it’s clear that agile-friendly application management is a must. Namely, centralised management and automation. With those two management solutions in place, businesses can speed up agile delivery across multi-cloud environments.

  • Prepare for future application platforms

It’s plain to see that technologies are advancing at a breakneck speed with no signs of slowing.

To use new technologies more effectively and stay ahead of the curve, companies should leverage application load balancing that is compatible with containers and a multi-cloud environment.

By organisations asking themselves the five key questions outlined above and exploring the solutions offered, organisation can deliver applications to the cloud with the efficiency and reliability that advanced load balancing provides.

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