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This content is part of the Essential Guide: Improving app delivery: Make traditional IT and cloud work together
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Optimizing cloud delivery in the era of the virtual workplace

In this video, John Burke, principal research analyst at Nemertes Research, explored new developments related to the hybrid cloud, service-oriented architecture and the modern virtual enterprise, with an eye on how to optimize the delivery of applications.

As Burke explained, IT is still functioning with a largely centralized architecture in an utterly altered and dispersed modern environment. A decade or two ago, only the largest corporations were multinational. Today, a small company might have outposts in several countries. Once upon a time, the vast majority of enterprise employees did their jobs at a desk in an office in a corporate building or branch location, and used an IT system built for that. But now an ever-increasing number of workers are telecommuting, commuting from a home office, or they're perpetually mobile, working from cars, coffee shops, airports or train stations. There is no downtime, and IT services are expected to be continually available.

In short, today's enterprise is virtualized, and IT is playing catch-up.

The virtual workplace means a new IT landscape. Services and storage are distributed; many reside in the cloud. This is not only more complex, it also means IT is no longer solely under the control of the IT department. Right now, Burke said, about 97% of all organizations are using Software as a Service (SaaS), and the average number of applications IT must deliver is six. With the rise of the service-oriented architecture (SOA), it has become an incredibly complex IT environment. As Burke explained, what an end user perceives as a single application on a device is actually a set of components that may involve multiple data centers; a public, private or a hybrid cloud; and SaaS at the component level. The performance challenges are many -- there are connections between services, data centers and cloud providers, and these links have an important role in the speed with which an employee can deliver, for example, a response to a customer query. If any single link suffers congestion, is oversubscribed, or is in the path of a natural disaster, there can be a disruption or delay in business services.

It's all complicated enough, but in this fully interconnected age, the fact remains that network management teams and tools came out of the older, centralized, stationary context, with the IT department in control of the IT infrastructure. And with mobile workers, SOA, SaaS and all the rest, simple questions no longer have clear answers. Who's responsible for monitoring the system? Who's responsible for (or capable of) fixing problems? Are there interventions corporate network pros can perform if what's slowing down, say, cloud delivery of applications, is something outside of the enterprise network?

Ultimately, employees working from home or on-the-go don't care what the problem is, or where it originated. They only care that they can't get their work done.

In this presentation, Burke examined the traditional IT infrastructure and the modern workforce situation, and attempted to solve the question of how to optimize application delivery to that modern worker, through optimization of the hybrid cloud. He provided actionable advice that any IT pro can use -- such as the use of quality of service controls, file compression, traffic prioritization and bandwidth allocation. He also examined app delivery controllers and what they can do beyond acting as load balancers. Cloud bridge appliances also got Burke's attention.

That's just the start. Watch the video and learn how you and your IT colleagues can adapt even a traditional, once-centralized IT infrastructure to the age of the hybrid cloud and virtual enterprise.

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