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The Cloud Computing – Application Acceleration Connection

Like peanut-butter and jelly, cloud computing and application acceleration are just better together

Ann Bednarz of Network World waxes predictive regarding 2010 trends in application delivery and WAN optimization in WAN optimization in 2010. One of the interesting tidbits she offers from research firm Gartner is growth in the application acceleration market: 

blockquote Second, the research firm is predicting a return to modest growth for the application acceleration market in 2010. Gartner is forecasting a compound annual growth rate of 12.22%, with 2014 revenue of $4.27 billion.

This, when viewed alongside the predictions that cloud computing – both public and private –will see significant growth in 2010, should be no surprise.

blockquote The build out of “enterprise class” cloud computing service will continue to major growth area.   IDC stated "The emergence of enterprise-grade cloud services will be a unifying theme in this area, with a battle unfolding in cloud application platforms -- the most strategic real estate in the cloud for the next 20 years."  The overall growth in the IT industry for major categories of hardware, software and services are expected to have a 2 to 4% growth rate.

It shouldn’t be a surprise, but perhaps the connection isn’t as obvious as it first appears. Organizations are global, yes, but for many businesses – especially those that are most likely to take advantage of cloud computing and its cost reducing benefits, i.e. mid-sized and smaller organizations – they often focus on a fairly localized market. Larger organizations have no doubt undergone the exercise in the past of determining where, from a performance standpoint, it is best to deploy second and even tertiary data centers. Public cloud computing, however, changes the impact of location on performance and opens up a potentially increasing need for application acceleration solutions to combat longer distances and the impact of changing the delivery epicenter of their most critical, customer and end-user facing applications.


CLOUD COMPUTING and the IMPACT on the APPLICATION ACCELERATION MARKET

traffic_light_green Consider, if you will, that an organization chooses to deploy an application which will be used on a daily basis by employees in “the cloud.” In previous incarnations that application would have likely been deployed in the local data center, accessible to employees over the local LAN. High speed. Low latency. The only real obstacle to astounding application performance would have been hardware and software limitations imposed by the choice of server hardware, web/application server software, and the database. Now move that application to “the cloud” and consider the potential obstacles to application performance that are introduced: higher latency, lower speed, less control. What’s potentially true is that moving to “the cloud” mitigates the expense associated with higher performing servers so bottlenecks that may have occurred due to limitations imposed by the server hardware are gone, but they are replaced by the inevitable degradation of performance that comes with delivery over the Internet – higher latency, because it’s farther away and there are more users out there than “in here” and lower speed because it’s rare that an organization has LAN-like speeds even to the Internet.

So what we have is a most cost-effective method of deploying applications that’s farther away from its users. The potential – and I’d say inevitability – is there that performance will be impacted and not in a good way. The solution is to (1) keep the application deployed locally, (2) tell the users to deal with it, or (3) employ the use of application acceleration/optimization solutions to provide consistent performance of an acceptable level to users no matter where they might end up.

There are well-known, proven solutions to addressing the core problem of distance on application performance: caching, compression, more efficient connection management, etc… All of which fall under the “application acceleration” umbrella.  As cloud computing experiences higher adoption rates it is inevitable that performance will be raised as an issue and will need to be addressed. Hence it makes perfect sense that growing cloud computing adoption will provide growth opportunities for application acceleration solution vendors’ as well, which will positively impact that market.

That’s good news for customers and end-users, as they are typically the folks who are impacted the most by architectural and deployment changes to applications. Usability is impacted by performance and responsiveness, which directly impacts productivity – one of the key metrics upon which many end-user employees are evaluated. A rise in offerings related to application acceleration for cloud computing deployed applications will be beneficial to both providers (differentiation and up-selling of services) and customers (remediating potential impact of moving applications further from users) alike.

As the cloud matures we are likely to see, in general, a positive impact on many application delivery related markets – WAN acceleration, application acceleration, and application security – as providers begin to offer a wider variety of services in order to differentiate from the competition and make their offerings more attractive to enterprise-class customers used to having many more technological options for dealing with application delivery challenges than are currently available from most cloud computing providers.

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Lori MacVittie is responsible for education and evangelism of application services available across F5’s entire product suite. Her role includes authorship of technical materials and participation in a number of community-based forums and industry standards organizations, among other efforts. MacVittie has extensive programming experience as an application architect, as well as network and systems development and administration expertise. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning Senior Technology Editor at Network Computing Magazine, where she conducted product research and evaluation focused on integration with application and network architectures, and authored articles on a variety of topics aimed at IT professionals. Her most recent area of focus included SOA-related products and architectures. She holds a B.S. in Information and Computing Science from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.

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