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Why ADCs are Ripe for Disruption from the Cloud

By June 6, 2016Article

Why do we still hear about websites crashing when too many people try to log in? Not only do small organizations go down due to overwhelming numbers of website visitors, but even large corporations are susceptible. Remember when Target went down during Cyber Monday? One would think that such massive corporations would not only be prepared for, but be able to support even millions of online visitors at once. But often that’s not the case; and part of the problem is that 68 percent of companies are still using traditional servers for four-fifths of their websites/applications and not the cloud. 

Lying in those server rooms is a box responsible for routing internet traffic to every server: the application delivery controller (ADC). During periods of high demand (such as Cyber Monday), an ADC essentially spreads incoming website visitors among multiple servers until they’re all full. While unknown to the average website visitor, ADCs are estimated to grow into a $2.9 billion global market by 2020 – and what’s driving this massive potential isn’t found in old server rooms. The biggest driving force behind this potential isn’t in those previously mentioned server rooms but, instead, in the cloud. The traditional ADC business model (a box full of hardware stored in a server room) is on the brink of a significant upgrade thanks to the advantages of the cloud. 

Traditional ADCs just aren’t worth it anymore 

The problem with building a traditional server deployment to be managed by ADCs is that you have to physically build it. And as anyone who has worked in even a small-sized business knows, that takes quite a while. Scaling server rooms requires more than just buying the physical servers and ADCs. A company also has to invest in construction time, management overlay, software licenses, additional hardware and the IT expertise to make sure it runs smoothly (which is the biggest cost of all). Companies looking to move to the cloud can avoid all those expenses. 

A SaaS-based ADC and server room, results in the following:

  • Supporting the deployment is up to the vendor instead of the company
  • You eliminate the need to constantly buy licenses
  • Scaling up means buying more instances instantaneously versus installing more server rooms over time. 

Old school isn’t moving fast enough 

The traditional ADC vendors such as Citrix and F5 are moving to embrace the cloud and stay relevant in the ADC business. Their problem, however, is that their business still operates the old-fashioned way. Their sales, channel and revenue models haven’t pivoted from the approach of deploying old school hardware. While a company can buy a cloud version from legacy providers, the ADCs still have to be installed on a pre-bought cloud deployment and the customer still needs to provide its own IT management and support. This approach leaves a lot to be desired as it doesn’t take full advantage of cloud computing. 

What a cloud ADC solution can really do 

It’s no secret that the cloud offers significantly more rapid scalability. But an ADC built for the cloud can do much more than that. Traditional ADCs are missing out on application acceleration and the ability to offer analytics for customer insights. A built-in-the-cloud ADC solution can monitor its customers’ (anonymized) web traffic and, with analytics, gain insight into what is and isn’t working for them. 

There are many stories of customers with deployed cloud ADC solutions that have experienced massive scale-out events that were not planned for; yet, due to the platform’s ability to auto scale, the traffic was effectively managed and no downtime was suffered. Experiences like this enable customers to better understand their traffic flows and optimize their application acceleration needs for the future. 

The old school vendors never directly touch their appliances (neither physical nor cloud based) after a customer purchases them and, therefore, lack an intimate understanding of what the customers are doing right or wrong. There are likely boxes sitting out in the field for eight years with eight-year-old code, which is quite a stark difference from being cloud optimized. 

Isn’t it time to think outside the box? 

While these are all proven examples of why traditional ADCs are on their way out, no doubt some organizations aren’t swayed to adopt the cloud. However, in today’s rapidly moving, always-on world, any enterprise can be subject to a sudden traffic overload and demand for scalability that traditional server rooms can’t keep up with. Any skeptical organization should ask the following question: Is it better to worry about and maintain our own ADCs or, instead, use that time/money to focus on our core applications and growing their business? It’s hard to deny the appeal of answering the latter; and that’s why old school ADCs are such prime targets for disruption from the cloud. 

Sonal Puri is CEO of Webscale. Previously, she was the CMO at Aryaka Networks and led sales, marketing and alliances for global enterprise networks. Sonal has over 18 years of experience with internet infrastructure in sales, marketing, corporate and business development and channels. Sonal headed business development and corporate strategy for the application acceleration business unit, and the Western US corporate development team at Akamai Technologies working on partnerships, mergers and acquisitions.





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