The Five Requirements for Application Services in a Software-Defined Data Center

Lori MacVittie サムネール
Lori MacVittie
Published June 15, 2015

Data center models are changing. A variety of technical trends and business demands are forcing that change, most of them centered on the explosive growth of applications. That means, in turn, that the requirements for application delivery are changing.

Certainly application delivery needs to be agile, not waterfall. It needs to deliver services in hours, not weeks or months. It needs to be more cost efficient. And more than anything else, it needs to be really, 

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really, super focused on applications. Especially those services that are particularly application affine. You know the ones - caching, load balancing, web app security, and performance. These are the services whose configurations are tied (tightly coupled) to the applications they deliver. Thus, they need to be closer to the app. Topologically if not physically.

These are the application services described as "per-app". As you might infer (and I would imply) these services really are deployed and configured on a per-application basis.

That means they must be as agile and orchestratable as the applications (or microservices) they're delivering. That means more than just being software (or virtual) it also means fitting in with the increasingly DevOpsy environment that's currently taking over dev and ops in the software-defined data center (SDDC).

There are five key requirements for services to both fit in and enable the transition from a traditional data center to a software-defined, more cloudy, data center model.

1. Per-application Services

Services like load balancing, caching and performance-enhancing services need to fit into a highly distributed, application-focused environment. This ensure isolation, such that failure is limited to an individual application stack. A per-application model also ensures granular control and monitoring of the application in question. This further enables greater visibility into application performance, particularly when applications are comprised of multiple microservice instances.

2. Lightweight Footprint

The incredible growth of applications - both from mobile application demand and microservice architectures - means organizations have to do more with less. There are fewer resources available and thus a lightweight service model is necessary to make the most efficient use of what is available. A lightweight footprint for application services also serves to increase service density and enable all applications and services to receive the attention to security, scalability and performance they not only deserve but the business demands.

3. Orchestration Friendly

In an increasingly automated environment, driven by a DevOps approach, it is critical that application services present orchestration-friendly APIs and templates. This is needful to ensure easy integration with the tools and frameworks used to automate and orchestrate deployments driven by a continuous delivery (CD)  approach to application development. These APIs also enable auto scaling up and back down, which supports the need for efficient resource use in these increasingly dense deployments.

4. Multiple VM support

In addition to pure software, application services desirous of fitting into a software-defined data center must support the widest set of hypervisors possible. VMware, Citrix, Microsoft, and KVM are non negotiable in terms of support. Even organizations that may have standardized on one platform today may  migrate or expand their use to others in the future.

5. Cost-effectiveness

The number of services and applications needing per-application services in a software-defined data center can reach into the thousands. The service platform used to deliver complementary application services must scale economically to meet that demand, which means subscription and consumption based licensing models that reach new economies of scale for application services.


The world of applications is expanding. Mobile, microservices, and, sooner rather than later, the Internet of Things are creating explosive growth of applications that in turn are driving demand for DevOps and Software-Defined Data Center models. Application delivery models must also adapt and ensure that all applications and services can be scaled and secured in the most efficient, cost-effective way possible. For application delivery that means programmable software solutions.