Fewer and fewer internet users are connecting to the web with wired connections each year. 63% of internet traffic is coming from mobile devices, at this point. That’s well beyond a majority.

Mobile technology is only going to continue to become more important as we move towards a more digital world. Technology is only going to continue to become more intertwined with our daily lives. It is predicted that there will be over 287.1 million mobile internet users in the United States alone by 2023.

Those apps and mobile devices need some sort of middleman. That’s where an application delivery controller.

Of course, mobile technology isn’t the only tech that relies upon application delivery controllers. An application delivery controller can be a part of any system with a great deal of traffic or users.

We’re going to delve into application delivery controllers. We’re going to show and tell you what they are and what they’re useful for. Then we’ll show you how they can help your business thrive.

How An Application Delivery Controller Can Help Your Business Thrive

Application delivery controllers have evolved a lot in the last 15 years. Let’s start off by defining what an application delivery controller is. This will help give you an idea of how they’ll help your business function at peak efficiency.

What Is An Application Delivery Controller?

An application delivery controller (ADC) is a part of a computer network that serves as an intermediary between the end user and a server. It is usually a piece of hardware or software that controls and directs the traffic and flow of data between two points.

ADCs helps to balance the load between servers to speed up applications. A number of common functions are handled by an ADC, reducing the load on the server.

Common Functions Performed By ADCs include:

  • Load balancing
  • Secure Socket Layer (SSL) offboarding
  • Rate shaping
  • Firewalls

ADCs main task is load balancing. This distributes usage evenly across the server. It also ensures that your resources are being used most efficiently and effectively. It also helps to prevent downtime if a server happens to go down.

Application delivery controllers are an important component of application acceleration. Application accelerators help solve issues around WAN latency and packet loss. This ensures a smoother performance for the end-user.

Caching and compression are two other duties handled by ADCs. This also helps ensure peak performance for users accessing your servers. They also handle a lot of the security duties of a network, such as authentication and authorization.

How Application Delivery Controllers Work

An ADC can be a piece of hardware or software, which runs on an 86x server. Software ADCs are a vital component of cloud servers. They allow customers to be able to scale up or down their services depending upon their needs.

ADCs offer multiple levels of load balancing. Layer 3 and Layer 4 load balancing directs traffic based upon IP addresses and a variety of subsets. These include TCP sessions, protocols, and port numbers.

Layer 7 load balancing, on the other hand, distributes traffic via content type. Traffic is directed via URLs, HTTP headers, and queries. How each ADC achieves this varies by application.

ADCs also alternate connections between various devices using a variety of methods. Round robin, response time, and packet response. Contemporary ADCs are able to assess the state of a server, as well. This helps prevent overloading a server that is already experiencing heavy traffic.

ADCs use a variety of methods for monitoring servers, including:

  • Domain name system (DNS)
  • File transfer protocol (FTP)
  • HTTP
  • HTTP Secure (HTTPs)
  • TCP
  • User diagram protocol (UDP)

TCP multiplexing is one of the most common ways that ADCs handle compression. An application delivery controller consolidates the number of TCP sessions, sending multiple signals at the same time. This helps save on network bandwidth.

Multiplexing is useful as device load and network traffic can grow exponentially when new sessions are initiated.

ADCs easily integrate with most existing network and dynamic routing protocols.

Network protocols supported by ADCs include:

  • Open Shortest Path First (OSPF)
  • Border Gateway Protocol (BGP)
  • Virtual Extensible LAN (VXLAN)
  • Software-Defined Networks (SDN)

Finally, ADCs reduce the SSL load on servers. They’re also often used with application acceleration. They’re pivotal in ensuring optimal uptime, which is important to the success of your digital business

ADCs and Cybersecurity

Application delivery controllers are an important part of cybersecurity. They’re a pivotal part of defending against DDoS attacks. They help prevent firewalls from getting overloaded by distributing traffic evenly.

ADCs can also help prevent SSL tunneling attacks. Some ADCs come equipped with a DNS application firewall to prevent spikes in DNS traffic.

ADCs use web application firewalls (WAFs) to prevent cross-site scripting (XSS). This can be a built-in feature or available as an add-on. WAFs disrupt SQL injections, protect sensitive data, and prevent cookie poisoning.

ADCs can sometimes be used to prevent data loss, as well. Data can be flagged or blocked if it violates company policy or if it’s deemed to be malicious.

Advantages of ADCs

Now that you have a better understanding of what application delivery controllers are and do, you should already be getting some notions of how they can benefit your digital business. ADCs are especially vital for businesses that rely on reliability and a smooth user experience.

This could be anything from a data center to a streaming app.

Businesses are increasingly relying on remote servers, as we evolve into a more virtual society. Company assets, ranging from data to the applications themselves, are often located in multiple remote locations. This means that digital businesses are increasingly at the mercy of third-party providers.

Let’s delve a bit deeper into how ADCs will help your digital business thrive.

ADCs Improve Performance

Load balancing is the main task of an application delivery controller. They serve as a useful buffer between the end user and the servers. This helps ensure a smoother user experience.

It also gives more power to the administrator. Admins are able to set a “weight” for each server for better traffic distribution. This is often based on the layer segmentation we discussed earlier.

This lets you forward higher-priority traffic to servers with more capability.

Allocates Resources Efficiently

Layer 7 makes load balancing even more effective and efficient. Layer 7 allocates traffic depending upon what type of content is being delivered. As multimedia content becomes increasingly prevalent, this is reason enough alone to make an ADC worthy of your consideration.

To give you an example, you could route all video and graphics request to a server with the highest capacity. You could send less demanding requests to a much smaller server. This could save you quite a bit of money on unnecessary server costs in a short amount of time.

Application Acceleration

Businesses are relying on remote servers more than ever before. This can cause glitchy, buggy performance as your server struggles to find all of the necessary resources.

Compression and modifying communication behavior protocols are one way to ensure a smooth user experience for the end user. Allocating certain tasks and functions are another way that ADCs implement application acceleration. This prevents the server from becoming overloaded by small tasks.

Content caching and SSL acceleration are two common forms of application acceleration. ADCs are ideal for this application as they’re not reliant on a particular location. This means they can be used across a variety of servers, helping to ensure that all of your data and applications perform at peak efficiency.

Ensures Consistency

Some applications need to be permanently affixed to specific servers. A shopping cart might be one example. If a customer were switched to a server that didn’t contain their shopping data, they could lose all of their purchases.

ADCs can be used to affix certain types of traffic using a variety of methods. One is via Layer 4, which affixes traffic using an IP address. Layer 4 functions even when an IP is unstable due to proxy servers or network-address transition (NAT).

Layer 7 can also be used to ensure “stickiness.” Layer 7 analyzes data from a particular application. Browser headers and other application data protocol elements can also be used to identify unique users.

Modern ADCs use a combination of Layer 4 and Layer 7 to help ensure a smooth and reliable user experience for the end user.

Scalable Pricing

ADCs are commonly found in data centers and cloud servers. One of the main selling points of both of these services is scalable pricing. Customers don’t pay for what they don’t use.

ADCs play an important role in allowing this flexible pricing. Application delivery controllers are able to allocate resources by usage. Smaller clients are often able to take advantage of greater bandwidth than they would otherwise, at their price point.

Software-based ADCs perform the same function. These can also be set up to account for unexpected traffic spikes. They can also be configured for more consistent traffic levels.

This two tenant ADC configuration ends up being a win-win for clients and servers alike.

Eliminates Points Of Failure

ADCs are a useful buffer for network traffic. This allows a bit of lag time to assess if a server or application is offline or unresponsive. Users will automatically be routed to a functioning server, which greatly reduces downtime.

ADCs can also be used in high availability configurations. If the ADC itself should happen to fail, the entire server farm and site can be taken down.

Enhanced Security

You can never have too much cybersecurity. Cyberattacks revealed over 4.1 billion records in the first half of 2019 alone.

Considering how prevalent that digital technology has become in our day-to-day lives, this trend is only going to increase. That’s why cybersecurity is projected to be a $133.7 billion industry by 2020.

ADCs are useful for enhanced cybersecurity in a number of ways. Detecting illegitimate traffic is the first, and most prevalent, way that ADCs improve your security. This also ensures that your servers operate peak efficiency at the same time.

DDoS attacks are one example of this. DDoS attacks seek to overwhelm the front-end of a web server. ADCs are able to differentiate legitimate traffic from traffic coming from suspicious sources. These are deterred, allowing your regular customers’ services to remain uninterrupted.  

This also prevents you from having to pay for server capacity you’re not likely to need. The ADCs help account for unexpected traffic spikes.

ADCs can also be used to help secure specific applications or sensitive data. This could be accomplished using a web-application firewall or data leakage prevention.

The main advantage of application and data protection in ADCs is that it consolidates a number of your cybersecurity duties into one platform. They can be implemented on a single platform and used across a number of servers. This gives virtual and cloud-based servers the same security that an on-premises data center would have.

Considering that data security is one of the main priorities for business owners and IT professional presently, you simply can’t overlook an ADC as part of your cybersecurity suite.

If you’re ready to find out how an ADC can enhance your digital business, check out ADC-as-a-Service.

The world is only getting more virtual with each passing year. We’re also using digital technology more and more in our daily lives. Application delivery controllers are an easy and essential way to help ensure your digital tools and resources continue to function at peak efficiency.

Want to Learn More About Technology?

Technology is evolving at the speed of thought. It can be a full-time job just keeping up with a percentage of it. It’s also vital to thriving in this world we’re living in. Now that you know more about what an application delivery controller does, browse the rest of our tech articles today! Keep your finger on the digital pulse.

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