“Timing is everything,” is a phrase that applies to a lot of things in life, and it’s certainly pertinent when making IT purchasing decisions for your business. If you invest too soon in a technology platform, you might miss out on upcoming innovations that could save money or greatly improve performance. Wait too long, and poor performance on the existing system could reduce employee productivity or repel customers, resulting in inefficient operations and lost sales. It’s not easy to determine exactly the right time for IT upgrades.
Your Application Delivery Controller (ADC) is a vital component of your overall IT budget. The ADC sits in front of your backend web servers and manages the traffic going to, from and between your servers. It provides load balancing, web acceleration and an application firewall, which altogether ensure your critical services are optimized, secure and always up and running.
But how do you know when is the right time to upgrade your ADC? How long should you stick with your existing solution before investing in something better?
There are many internal and external factors that will affect your upgrade decision, and each one needs careful consideration. Essentially, the timing depends on what your existing solution is, how it’s performing and whether your requirements have changed. Additionally, it’s important to do your homework and due diligence on the latest ADC innovations as well as new developments in data center technology that will affect your business.
To help you start the decision-making process, we’ve highlighted here the most important considerations when evaluating your current ADC.
1. Are your business needs changing?
Various changes within your business will often require a new ADC. For example, if your business has experienced rapid growth or expansion into new geographic or international markets, you might have outgrown your existing solution and need more capacity as well as more flexibility and scalability.
Perhaps your spending strategy has shifted to prioritize pay-as-you-go, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) models rather than paying large amounts of CAPEX upfront for IT equipment and waiting many years for a return on that investment. In this case, upgrading to a modern, flexible ADC license would allow you to simplify and consolidate your procurement and expenditure management.
Another internal change that could affect your upgrade decision is adopting DevOps working practices among your IT teams. You may no longer have dedicated engineers that handle all aspects of running the ADC solution and instead have teams of technology generalists who work together across IT operations and development projects. This type of internal reorganization necessitates a simple ADC solution that is easy to install, configure and manage.
2. Is your current ADC outdated and acting up?
If your current solution is approaching end-of-life, it’s time to consider new ADC options. But in some cases, it might be painfully obvious that an upgrade is due even before your current ADC reaches end-of-life, especially if you’ve noticed performance degradation that shouldn’t be happening.
Do your web servers frequently become overloaded even though you have a load balancer? Is there more than a few seconds delay in web site response times? Are web pages taking too long to build even though you have implemented some form of web acceleration? If performance is slow, inconsistent and unreliable, then you should look closely at your existing ADC because it might not be up to the job.
One way to measure your website’s performance is by running simple speed tests. Snapt has its own website analyzer for testing your site, but there are other good testing tools as well, such as SSL Server Test, PageSpeed Insights and Pingdom Speed Test.
3. Is your data center technology changing?
Virtualization, cloud computing and containers are transforming the data center as we know it. Many enterprises today implement web and application servers in virtualized data center environments to use computing resources more efficiently and reduce CAPEX and OPEX. Also, the applications that run in these cloud environments are also being built differently using a relatively new design architecture called microservices, which makes applications easier to operate and maintain.
While these data center developments may seem remote or academic, they will directly impact the functionality you’ll need in an ADC. Depending on your level of adoption of virtualization and cloud computing, you will need an ADC that can run on any platform whether it’s a virtual machine (VM), bare metal, container, or public or private cloud. Also, if you’ve adopted microservices, your ADC will need robust east-west load balancing for traffic going across and between your servers in addition to north-south load balancing.
4. Are more advanced ADC features available?
The ADC market might have changed a lot since you last purchased a solution. Perhaps the only viable solution at the time of your first ADC investment was a traditional hardware appliance. Today, there are many software-only ADCs available on the market, like Snapt, that offer flexible pay-as-you-go licensing.
Modern ADC features include Secure Socket Layer (SSL) offload; global server load balancing (GSLB); monitoring, alerts and analytics for real-time performance insight; and automatic web page compression. Perhaps more importantly, modern software ADC solutions are designed to be easy to use to suit the needs of DevOps teams.
There are more advanced innovations on the horizon, such as dynamic scaling and automation, which will take modern ADCs into a new hyperscale cloud-native era. One example is Snapt’s Nova, which is a cloud-native ADC solution that can operate at massive scale with high performance and low latency, and allows any number of ADCs to be orchestrated and managed centrally from a single user interface. The unique architecture enables the ADCs to be fully automated, including instantiation, scaling and recovery.
Getting the timing right on an ADC upgrade is challenging. But if you have a thorough understanding of your business objectives, your current ADC and data center, as well as the latest ADC technology developments, you’ll be in a good position to know when the time is right.
To learn if Snapt is the best choice for your business, try it out for free today. If you want to try Nova, the hyperscale cloud-native ADC from Snapt, sign up for a free trial.