The Art of Efficient ADC Administration – Develop Once, Apply Multiple Times
It’s no secret application delivery controller (ADC) services are often perceived as complex to master and administer. Although they may use the latest ADC device, many ADC deployments only use basic layer 4 load balancing. It can be challenging to find an ADC champion who can really take advantage of the most advanced capabilities of an application delivery solution and maximize its business benefits.
So besides hiring ADC and application champions, who also understand the applications that the ADC provides services to, what helps an organization take full advantage of the most advanced application delivery capabilities? Specifically, these capabilities include: application acceleration (i.e. compression, TCP protocol optimization), layer 7 based flow control and server offloading, such as SSL offloading, advanced caching and TCP connection management.
Addressing this challenge, there are some ADC vendors who already provide configuration templates with optimized configuration for many of the leading enterprise applications. (Microsoft Lync, Exchange and SAP NetWeaver just to name a few.) However, these templates provide limited coverage since many organizations develop their own proprietary mission critical applications.
Another alternative is to empower the application administrator – the one who knows the application’s "ins and outs," and allow him to master the ADC service in such a way that will enable him to optimize his specific application deployment and performance. I am not suggesting that you turn the application admin into an ADC champion, but rather that you transform all the ADC services he or she may require into basic building blocks so they can easily pick and choose to build their own optimized configuration without familiarizing themselves with the underlying ADC infrastructure. Needless to say, the ADC vendor of choice must also provide a platform that enables ADC administrators to transform an ADC configuration into templates and wizards.
Here is how it can work: the ADC champion in the organization can construct various building block templates like basic server load balancing (SLB). When the application admin requires the SLB service, they can run a wizard that calls this template, and asks only for the deployment specific parameters like the IP address of the application service and the addresses of the application servers that need to be load balanced. The template will use those parameters to apply the SLB configuration into the ADC – without requiring the application admin to be familiar with even a single command line used in the ADC.
Taking this solution a step further, the application administrator can pick and choose additional building blocks such as SSL offloading. Here, the wizard it uses will simply ask for the specific parameters for this deployment – like the SSL key to be used or whether the SSL connection uses a default or proprietary port. Once the application admin provides all of this data through a series of simple leading questions, it applies the corresponding configuration into the ADC.
The same goes for ADC based application acceleration services and flow control. The ADC champion can develop all those basic building blocks, which only ask for the relevant parameters, enabling any application admin to master not only the best application configuration for his organization but also to couple it with the best ADC configuration for that deployment.
The result of such an approach provides benefits beyond just empowering the application admin. It also enables the ADC administrator to develop each configuration building block once and deploy it many times (in different combinations) for different applications – even for the same application deployed in different locations (such as in the case of Disaster Recovery sites).
Can this approach be leveraged even more? The answer is yes. ADC vendors that provide such platforms for creating generic configuration building blocks and wizards can use it themselves to develop new configuration building blocks based on the most advanced capabilities of their own ADC solution. This way, application administrators and even ADC champions can take advantage of the highest-level ADC configuration expertise that comes from the ADC vendor’s professional services. They can then extract the most from the ADC solution in their network and in turn create more value for the application they manage and their organization.