In this report, we explore a range of technologies that can bring employees, partners, and customers the application resources they need quickly, and without breaking the bank.
Of all the benefits IT delivers to end users, applications are the most highly visible. Sure, security is sexier and gets more attention, but watch an important application bog down and see how fast the help desk phones light up. Having a strategy in place to ensure that apps flow smoothly is particularly important when you support branch offices or off-site users--and who doesn't nowadays?
Of the 267 business technology professionals responding to our InformationWeek Analytics application delivery survey, about half use application delivery strategies now, and 21% have projects in the works. A large majority, 89%, are from organizations with multiple sites. Companies also are delivering more apps to traveling employees and teleworkers--one CIO noted that his engineering design firm wants to hire the most talented people available, regardless of where they live. A smaller number of organizations are delivering applications to external users, including customers and business partners.
We always look for trends in our surveys, and this time out we found that increased use of software as a service, cloud computing, and virtual desktop infrastructure are all adding new twists to application delivery. We were also interested to see real-time media jump from fourth place on our list of currently accelerated applications, with 27%, all the way to second among the applications that respondents plan to accelerate in the next two years (43%). We've been hearing from vendors in a number of technology markets related to real-time media that delivery of voice and video over the network is poised to take off, and it appears that organizations are starting to fulfill those predictions. Most of the uses cited are for distributed training and orientation, remote meetings among staff, and reducing telecommunications costs using voice over IP.
The problem is, IT's options are limited when it comes to improving the performance of real-time media. We can certainly set aside enough bandwidth to ensure that streams run unhindered over the network and choose codecs that make efficient use of bandwidth by dynamically increasing or decreasing network usage based on available capacity. But even with these measures, media streams still become disrupted and choppy, sometimes to the point of failed connections.
A better strategy? New products that can optimize transmissions. Expand Networks and Silver Peak Systems offer devices to optimize UDP, for example. When several users will view the same media at the same time, Blue Coat Systems' ProxySG stream-splitting capability requests one stream from the source and then delivers it to multiple users on the LAN, in a fashion similar to multicast but without multicasting's implementation and support issues. The result is one stream for many users, and less WAN utilization.