With a basic web application, the user sends a request over the network to a server that returns the application or content to the user’s browser. The browser simply renders and displays the information from the formatted pages sent from the server.
However, many of today’s web applications are much more complex with a lot of enhanced features. Rather than having all of the application logic on the servers, pieces of application logic run on both browsers and servers, allowing each to process parts of the application. While these applications can do more advanced and interesting things, they also increase the communication between browsers and servers to maintain persistent connectivity for all the application components.
In simple terms, what all this means is that a lot more traffic travels between data centers hosting the applications and the remote users. This growing traffic can quickly congest networks. It’s not only browsers, applications, and servers that require communication turns — network protocols, such as TCP, create their own connections. All these communication requirements are causing more traffic that consumes bandwidth and creates added network overhead. The result is that traffic slows and gives data center and network IT personnel headaches.
All of these applications are making the IT infrastructure that supports them more complex and expensive. Many organizations are addressing the challenges that external networks face in transporting these applications by delivering them as services.
These on-demand software-as-a-service offerings are increasingly being used by application service providers, cloud operators, enterprises and social networking sites. As the number of services and the users of these services grows, the demands they place on network bandwidth, and the ill effects they have on delivering applications, grows exponentially. Compounding these problems is the additional traffic created by devices such as smart phones, tablets and other web-connected devices that add to already congested bandwidth.
For many organizations, data center and network environments have become too rigid for the new applications and devices that are driving today’s traffic. This is one of the reasons for virtualization becoming so popular. In addition to server virtualization, network virtualization, a new paradigm to enable the Network-as-a-Service in the form of Software Defined Networking (SDN) promises to add to the continuum of flexibility and agility.
Just as server and storage technologies have developed into pooled virtual resources that can be spun up on-the-fly, networking resources can now be virtualized, allowing administrators to auto-provision on-the-fly, without the errors caused by manual configuration.
To support these efforts, WAN optimizers are available as software-only and virtual solutions, so that organizations can use them as a service (WAN optimization-as-a-service) to ease management, accelerate data, lower costs, reduce deployment times, and simplify networking infrastructure.
For both enterprises and cloud providers, the plethora of new applications and diverse user devices opens the door for many business opportunities. IT organizations should be reassured, knowing they have the data center and network infrastructure technologies to support them. They should have a new level of confidence, knowing these new service-enabling technologies can bring huge business and technology benefits.