Load Balancing Cloud-Native Environments

April 2, 2020
3 min read time
Load Balancing Cloud-Native Environments

Six years is a very long time in tech. The Application Delivery Controller (ADC) market has changed dramatically since Snapt arrived on the scene six years ago. Back then, traditional hardware load balancers were the rule for managing web server deployments and Snapt was the only software-only ADC on the market. Now the market faces another major transition – the migration to cloud-native environments.

Snapt led the way with software ADCs and developed a solution that enables businesses worldwide to overcome the limitations of hardware appliances (sunk costs, inflexibility, inefficiency, etc.) and provides a better way to ensure application delivery. Today, six of the world’s 10 biggest banks use Snapt Aria, along with NASA, MTV, Target and U.S. government agencies. Our 600 enterprise customers have deployed 10,000 Snapt Aria load balancers in production networks.

Shift to Cloud-Native

While the transition to software ADCs is on-going, IT networking is about to radically change again with the widespread adoption of cloud-native methodologies and, more generally, the mass migration to the cloud. The trends that are driving these changes have major implications for business-critical application delivery.

  • Apps are designed differently. Developers are opting for microservices in software application design, rather than relying on monolithic structures. Microservices are more flexible, scalable, easier to manage and enable DevOps teams to be more agile. But since microservices need to constantly communicate with each other, this creates more traffic load on servers and more East-West traffic among microservice components.
  • Cloud-native is on the rise. Along with microservices, other cloud-native technologies that are used more often now include containers, service meshes, declarative application programming interfaces (APIs) and automation. These technologies enable hyperscale – that is, dynamic, highly scalable networks and applications that scale up/down as well as scale out/in.
  • Enterprises are going multi-cloud. It’s more common now for applications to run on virtual machines (VMs) or containers in public, private or hybrid cloud environments. Increasingly, enterprises are deploying in multiple public clouds (multi-cloud), such as AWS and Azure, for better cost efficiency and reliability.   
  • IT teams embrace DevOps. IT departments traditionally comprise siloed teams with highly specialized skills and expertise. This is changing as IT professionals adopt DevOps ways of working with teams of technology generalists who bring together the development and operations parts of the department.

The challenge for the ADC market is that these changes require an entirely different way of ensuring the availability, performance and security of business-critical applications.

Redesigning ADCs for the Cloud-Native Era

Rising to these challenges, we built a new type of ADC designed from the ground-up for cloud-native environments and users migrating to a modern app delivery fabric. The result is Snapt Nova, our new ADC solution that sits alongside Snapt Aria in our product range.

We architected Nova with a mission to create a solution that is very lightweight, high performing, highly efficient and with very low latency – even at the largest scale. Instead of just growing up, we grew out – and that’s one of the biggest differences between Nova and every other ADC on the market.

Building Blocks of a Cloud-Native ADC

Nova provides all the ADC functionality that the market relies on – load balancing, web acceleration, web application firewall (WAF) and global server load balancing (GSLB) – for modern application delivery at any scale. But we built on those foundations to create something truly different.

1. Centralized Control

Nova Cloud is a centralized platform that enables DevOps or IT Ops teams to deploy, control and manage Nova ADC nodes in any VM, container or cloud environment. Centralized control dramatically reduces latency, even in the largest deployments. Additionally, this architecture shifts the logic and the value to the control plane, which simplifies management from a single platform and enables autoscaling, multi-cloud deployments and system-wide visibility of application performance.

2. Dynamic, Intelligent Auto-Scaling

Autoscaling enables hyperscale ADC deployments. By automatically scaling-in and scaling-out any number of ADCs, businesses can handle any amount of traffic and respond pre-emptively to emerging threats, while only provisioning what they need and paying for what they use. Nova achieves this with native API integration into cloud and container platforms and service-discovery backends, dynamically adjusting upstream servers. This is all done automatically by leveraging artificial intelligence and telemetry data from deployed ADC nodes.

3. Support for Multi-Cloud Deployments

Thanks to centralized management, users can configure Nova ADC nodes once and then deploy them to multiple public clouds, such as AWS, DigitalOcean, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform. Nova monitors all the nodes across multiple clouds and provides observability in one central dashboard. The automated process saves time and minimizes errors compared to having to repeat manual configuration and deployment procedures.

4. Full Visibility of App Performance and Security Threats

Whether it’s called visibility, telemetry or observability, it’s one of Nova’s key differentiators. From a "single pane of glass", Nova provides detailed telemetry, alerting, monitoring and performance data across all connected nodes. It provides Layer 7 statistics and reports on all nodes, including latency, HTTP error rates and threat detection.

ADC Functionality Matters More Than Ever

In cloud-native environments, container orchestration platforms like Kubernetes, Rancher or Docker Swarm all support native high availability and load balancing. Some say that this makes dedicated ADCs irrelevant. But we profoundly (and perhaps predictably) disagree.

Snapt Nova proves that dedicated ADCs can more than keep pace with the shift to cloud-native and – with a truly innovative architecture – can fundamentally change the way DevOps and IT teams manage application delivery at scale. We are very proud of Nova and we can’t wait to see what our community does with it.

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