In the past few years we’ve seen a concerted effort from cloud providers – Amazon, Microsoft, Google, et al. – to answer the very enterprise need for application services.
You can find a number (and it’s growing) of application services in cloud marketplaces today that address security (like web application firewalls) as well as performance (caching) and even identity management. This is no surprise. Enterprises depend on an average of 16 different application services to make their apps go faster and safer. Every year that number grows larger. Enterprises aren’t going to sacrifice them for the speed of cloud.
In that respect, application services are influencing both customers and cloud providers. But it’s not a one way street. Cloud – and increasingly containers – is also having a significant impact on application services and how they are delivered.
As enterprise organizations continue to invest in private (on-premises) cloud and experiment with containers, they are finding that the traditional model of delivering application services isn’t always a good fit.
Like most of the network, application services have long been delivered via a platform (often called an Application Delivery Controller or ADC for short) supported by scalable, reliable hardware. These devices were designed for high availability and scalability, able to support hundreds of applications simultaneously. Shared infrastructure – whether network or application –has long had advantages in terms of costs. Spreading the capital and operational expense across multiple applications made sense.
Until apps and architectures emerged where it didn’t.
There are a growing number of apps and architectures that require a more application-affine approach. The modern menagerie of microservices, for example, demands a fast, scalable, and affordable platform on which to deploy application services for a single application.
Shared service platforms can’t meet that demand the way a purposefully architected per-app platform can. There are three good reasons for that:
There is a need (and a demand) for an application service platform designed purposefully to support only a single application. By reducing the responsibility to a single application reduces the size (and complexity) of the configuration, limits the blast radius of a failed upgrade to a single app, and lowers the cost of both acquisition and operation.
Because of cloud, and containers, and microservices. Because of DevOps and the digital economy that drives organizations to deliver faster and more frequently.
Applications and architectures are changing. Environments are changing. That means application services – and their delivery mechanisms – must change as well.