– Paul Andersen, Sr. Marketing Manager for Array Networks (http://www.arraynetworks.com/), says:

Application delivery networking has its roots in simple load balancing, but has evolved considerably over the last decade. First was the integrated traffic management appliance for improving the performance, availability and security of Websites and Web applications. Next was the application delivery controller, providing application-specific configurations to ensure maximum performance, availability and ROI for business-critical enterprise applications such as Microsoft, SAP, IBM and others.

Today, application delivery networking encompasses more than just a single product. In addition to application delivery controllers, products such as WAN optimization controllers (WOC), secure access gateways and Web application firewalls are seen as necessary components in providing the access, mobility, security, availability, performance and scalability needed to derive maximum ROI for application infrastructure. As a result, vendors are moving quickly to address all facets of application delivery, as enterprises look to deploy more holistic solutions for supporting applications.

Not only are application delivery vendors offering expanded functionality, they are also offering greater flexibility in deployment. Until recently, application delivery networking was associated with dedicated appliances – due in part to the demands of acceleration and security functions. However, performance improvements in virtualization are significantly changing the face of application delivery.

Today you see ADC vendors offering virtual editions of their products designed to run on commodity hardware and most common hypervisors. Moving ADC functionality to the cloud, load balancing may be offered as a service, organizations may develop and test applications in the cloud, and businesses may benefit from hybrid public and private cloud architectures that share a common platform and enable on demand capacity and bursting. You also see vendors such as Array now offering WAN optimization in cloud and virtualized environments, dramatically improving agility and significantly reducing the cost of ensuring application performance across the Internet.

It is not difficult to see where this is heading – vendors in a race to offer application delivery, WAN optimization and secure access, all available in cloud and virtualized environments, available as a holistic solution with sufficient performance, reliability and management integration to drive down costs and improve efficiency and productivity. 

As this evolution unfolds, businesses are well advised to seek out vendors that demonstrate core competencies across all three key areas of application delivery networking – application delivery, secure access and WAN optimization – and vendors that are ahead of the curve and already have virtual versions of these key application delivery requirements.