Managing lots of disparate load balancers is hard, isn’t it? We’ve all been there. You’re chasing your tail, trying to track, control and manage multiple Application Delivery Controllers (ADCs), with multiple users, in multiple locations. But we still struggle to identify issues and fix problems fast enough. Want to get one step ahead? Try this.
The monster that is large-scale ADC infrastructure
Have you ever had to manage a large-scale ADC infrastructure? It’s a nightmare!
You have limited real-time visibility, making it hard to immediately spot issues and downtime, and it’s nigh-on impossible to roll-out maintenance patches or resolve problems fast enough.
But this patchwork of dispersed application and ADC architecture develops for good reason. As networks, systems, applications and businesses grow in size, and performance expectations increase, more and more appliances and ADCs are simply bolted on. Creating a more and more complex architecture for IT Infrastructure, System and Network Managers to manage.
But at some point this house of cards will inevitably crumble. There comes a point when ADC infrastructure becomes so cumbersome and so complicated that a fresh approach is needed to allow admins to pivot from ad-hoc, reactive management to proactive, scalable, centralized management. Sound familiar?
From ad-hoc to centralized management: the tipping point
Do you remember the heady days when application delivery was just about staying always-on and ensuring business continuity? No more.
Now you’re being asked to manage critical applications in two directly opposing ways:
- On the one hand you need to make your applications secure and stable.
- On the other, you need to make your applications dynamic enough to support continuous business innovation and facilitate new ways of working in order to ensure maximum return on investment.
There comes a time, when even on your best day, you’re unable to support the sprawling mushroom of ADCs to the best of your ability. When the sheer number of large-scale deployments starts to introduce new risks, and undermine the very purpose of the software in the first place.
Reached the tipping point? Then I’d suggest saying ‘goodbye’ to ad-hoc management of your ADC infrastructure, and ‘hello’ to a centralized approach. Here’s why:
With ad-hoc management of a large ADC estate…
You’re chasing your tail, trying to track, control and manage multiple bits of software, with multiple users, in multiple locations. But still struggle to identify issues and fix problems fast enough.
With centralized management of your ADC infrastructure…
You have real-time visibility of everything that’s going on in your world (finally, hallelujah!), with a customizable single pane of glass, giving you zero-touch control of all your ADC infrastructure. Taking you from reactive to proactive; from zero to hero; at the touch of a button.
Why should your boss care about any of this?!
In an ideal world, making your life easier would be the primary objective of any manager. However (in the real world), what I suspect is that while they're likely to be sympathetic, they're unlikely to vote for a change to the status quo without a sound business case.
Now, I don't know your boss (and I hope for your sake they're a good 'un!), but here are some facts he/she/they might be interested in...
The risks of ad-hoc large-scale ADC management
- Problems can't be flagged in real-time
- Issues take longer to resolve
- Fixing problems requires hands-on, manual work
- Change management controls are more haphazard
- Operational costs are higher
- Slower patching means potential vulnerabilities can be exploited
- Inconsistent configurations performed by dispersed users
- Configuration errors increases the likelihood of downtime
- Increasing complexity undermines scalability and future-proofing
- Deployments are more protracted
What are the consequences of all this for application delivery?
Load balancers are designed to optimize your applications; not undermine them. Without ADCs, critical applications can't drive revenue, facilitate collaboration, or provide critical services. Without high-performing ADCs, applications are at risk of falling victim to cybersecurity attacks, and inconsistent or poor performance. Pretty bleak stuff, huh?
All of this means that compromised ADCs is akin to compromised applications. Not great for return on investment, security, or performance...
The benefits of large-scale centralized ADC management
The alternative to the ad-hoc management of large numbers of dispersed load balancers is centralized management.
Centralized management provides a single window from which visibility, control, and scalability of the entire ADC estate is made possible. This improves application delivery across a variety of on-premise, cloud, hybrid, and multi-cloud environments through more effective management of application traffic. Here just a few benefits that might peak your boss' interest:
- Centralized ADC management reduces architectural complexity, facilitating more agile management of your resources - By bringing together disparate load balancers from different vendors in a single window, visibility of your estate is instantly improved, as is your ability to control and more effectively manage these diverse resources.
- Reduced ADC configuration complexity improves traffic management strategies - ADC centralized management makes configuration auditing and observation immediately more efficient, and makes complex traffic management strategies more feasible.
- Automated ADC configuration reduces the risk of application downtime - Given the complexity of a large ADC estate, it's hardly surprising that manual configuration errors on individual appliances can cause problems. Centralized management can help with this by automating configuration, ensuring consistency and greater control.
- Faster ADC deployments means faster application delivery - The ability to deploy a load balancer at the touch of a button dramatically accelerates deployments.
- Automated ADC updates prevents outstanding updates impacting application delivery - Unfulfilled requests can quickly add up. Being able to update dispersed ADCs in any location at the touch of a button immediately simplifies this process and avoids the risk of an outstanding update causing issues further down the line.
- Watertight ADC security means more secure applications - Security patches are part and parcel of ADC management. With a centralized management solution that highlights any CVEs relevant to your ADC estate, not only can vulnerabilities be immediately identified and investigated, but they can also be patched faster, enhancing application security.
- Less time spent on ADC management means more time spent on other activities! - Centralized management allows for easy automation of repetitive tasks, clawing back large chunks of the working week to spend on other tasks and priorities!
- Health checks means quicker identification and resolution of application delivery issues - Being able to see real-time information about the state of each appliance, including the health and performance of each appliance and cluster, means more effective monitoring and troubleshooting.
- Tighter ADC access control means more secure applications - Role-Based Access Controls in an ADC centralized management platform allow for more consistent implementation and auditing of access controls.
- Quicker ADC scale-out means more scalable applications - Centralized management can reduce the burden of scale-out with simple autoscaling and ADC deployment at the touch of a button. This makes deployments possible at scale, meaning application architecture can be expanded exponentially.
Managing lots of disparate load balancers is a complete pain, and an increasing risk to application delivery. Individual appliances are hard to track, control, and manage across applications, users, and locations. If issues can't be easily spotted and fixed, this can undermine the security and stability of your application stack.
With centralized ADC management however, a new world of possibilities opens up. One that not only makes your life easier, but also supports continuous business innovation and facilitates new ways of working, maximizing your return on investment. That should keep the boss happy, right? ; )
Try it and see!
And while you're at it, do also take a look at the brilliant centralized management solutions of our competitors: Progress' Kemp 360 (not vendor-agnostic but still adds lots of value if you have a large Kemp estate), F5's BIG-IQ, and AppViewX for Citrix Netscalers (loads of extra features but probably only for those with deep pockets?).