Applications in the Cloud: Best Practices for Delivery, Security and Visibility

In environments that span from on-premises to public, private and hybrid clouds, application delivery, security and visibility can become complex and inefficient.

With 84 percent of enterprises now using a multi-cloud strategy, according to the RightScale 2019 State of the Cloud Report from Flexera, this issue is more pressing than ever before.

Ahead, we’ll talk about the challenges of delivering applications across multiple environments while maintaining security and visibility. Then, we’ll explain what companies can do to overcome those challenges.

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Growing Industry Trends

Today, all companies are undergoing digital transformation in some form. Regardless of industry and focus, technology is now at the center of how enterprises are run. Here are some of the trends that have risen to prominence as a result.

Applications Are Changing

Widespread use of mobile devices has put applications at our fingertips. Apps are an integral part of every company and they are expected to be updated, delivered and deployed as quickly as possible.

This shift can be observed in the microservices movement. As monolithic architectures have been replaced with microservices architectures, applications are no longer delivered as a single, self-contained program.

Instead, applications are now divided into smaller components that must be delivered in concert. Oftentimes, those components are managed through container platforms like Docker and Kubernetes, as illustrated below:

Docker and Kubernetes container platforms

Deployment Models Are Changing

Applications aren’t all that’s changing: deployment models have also undergone a dramatic transformation.

Thanks to global demand for application availability and agility, apps are no longer bound to the data center. Rather, applications are deployed across multiple data centers and in a multi-cloud environments.

applications deployed in multi-cloud environments

Today, we see not only the traditional application delivery services but cloud-native application delivery, which provides conventional load balancing but is designed to meet the agility and flexibility requirements of multi-cloud and hybrid-cloud environments.

That being said, current infrastructures aren’t disappearing. Rather, companies must find a way to make their existing data centers work in tandem with microservices and cloud-based infrastructures.

This creates a degree of complexity that can present significant obstacles to companies of all kinds.

Key Challenges We’re Facing

As these trends converge, businesses are up against a specific set of challenges. Here are the four primary challenges we see and their technology-driven solutions:

And now you have challenges specific to microservices architecture.

Since 90 percent of enterprises are using or planning to use microservices, as detailed in LightStep’s 2018 Global Microservices Trend Report, the vast majority of companies must now consider:

How to Resolve Those Challenges

Ultimately, the objective is to deliver a consistent, user-friendly experience when deploying applications.

The truth is, users don’t care about where your applications reside or what kind of architecture you use. They only care about their experience, and to make that experience great, enterprises need to resolve the challenges discussed earlier.

But how? Through automation, management, and visibility and control.

automation, management, visibility and control

Automation

Businesses require faster and more frequent application delivery. This means that infrastructure and IT teams need to be able to deliver agility to support those demands. Businesses need intelligent automation that is API-driven so that businesses can become more efficient.

Management

Automation on its own isn’t enough. Companies also need a centralized management solution that increases operational efficiency and agility by enabling the IT teams and application teams to work together to centrally configure and manage all applications and policies across any environment.

Keep in mind that only a dedicated central management solution will be able to deliver those results across multiple environments. Unless all of a company’s applications are located in a single cloud, built-in cloud management solutions will be inadequate.

Visibility and Control

Visibility is now more crucial than ever before. That’s because it’s not only about dashboards that allow companies to simply monitor and watch. It’s about per-application visibility, which makes efficient troubleshooting possible.

Essentially, enterprises need to take a proactive approach to application management, and that can only be accomplished with complete visibility. Also keep in mind that the load balancer is the best place to examine traffic and gather information.

But, the thousands of lines of log messages produced by load balancers are impractical for analysis and troubleshooting. So, enterprises need a central system that can analyze those logs and generate big-picture insights based on both cloud and on-premises traffic.

The ideal solution will offer four tiers of visibility, analytics and insights:

four tiers of visibility, analytics and insights

  1. Performance monitoring: Descriptive analytics to track the health of servers and applications, as well as logs and events.
  2. Faster troubleshooting: Diagnostic analytics that provide per-application metrics and trend analysis so issues can be resolved as quickly as possible.
  3. Insights: Predictive analytics to identify anomalies and threats before they start to cause bigger issues.
  4. Adaptive controls: Prescriptive analytics that use machine learning to recommend policy updates and analyze behavior.

Of course, these three capabilities can’t achieve optimal efficiency without a centralized management system overseeing all of them.

So, an overarching centralized management system is necessary to create a single clear picture and enable universal control across all environments, both now and in the future.

Enterprises must also consider how they can simplify and streamline their microservices and Kubernetes applications. As we discussed above, microservices come with their own set of challenges.

Those challenges can be addressed with solutions that:

Put the pieces together, and you have a comprehensive system that can use management, automation and visibility and control to implement universal policies and configuration across all environments.

Take for example the analytics dashboard of A10 Networks’ Harmony Controller:

A10 Networks’ Harmony Controller

It’s able to:

On top of that, it can also:

What Companies Can Do Today

Companies can now implement best practices for application delivery, security and visibility across multiple environments by putting a centralized controller in place.

Let’s compare the simplicity and efficiency of operations without a central controller, versus those with a central controller:

simplicity and efficiency of operations without a central controller

As you can see, a comprehensive central controller converts raw data into actionable insights. This ability can result in a dramatic efficiency gain of 92 percent.

With the right central controller in place, enterprises can:

This article was based off the topics discussed by A10 Networks’ Almas Raza in our recent webinar, “Best Practices for Application Delivery, Security, & Visibility in the Cloud.”

Click here to learn more about A10 Networks’ cloud application security solutions.


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August 23, 2019

About Almas Raza

Almas Raza, Senior Technical Marketing Engineer at A10, has over 17 years of enterprise security and networking experience. Prior to A10, Almas has worked for multiple enterprise security companies including Symantec, Bluecoat, and Juniper among others. She specializes in Enterprise and Cloud security, and is an accomplished speaker, writer, and trainer for multiple security technologies and products. READ MORE