Faisal Iqbal is Systems Engineering Director, Public Sector, Citrix. ()
Recent events have served as a painful reminder that many government agencies continue to battle scalability issues when it comes to their high-volume, data-intense systems. And, while military personnel on our frontlines face risk as part of their daily jobs, they should not face challenges associated with easy and seamless access to the data they need to complete their missions, regardless of traffic-use influx. While the causes of such data and traffic influx issues vary, the outcome is consistent – gridlock, user frustration, and harsh public scrutiny for today’s government agencies.
As agencies advance their database consolidation and Cloud First initiatives, scalability concerns, performance, and requirements will multiply while – more often than not – government and defense IT budgets remain stagnant. Load balancers – which enable the distribution of workloads across computing resources to optimize resource use, maximize throughput, minimize response time, and avoid overload of any one of the resources – have been the tool of choice to address these issues.
Faltering public-facing sites, low performing data-intense systems, and employee frustration stemming from poor performing applications have made it clear that the fluctuating traffic, large amounts of data, and top-of-the-line performance users have come to expect can no longer be supported by the load balancers of yesterday. Upgrading, however, has not been easy. Historically, load balancer solutions have required the replacement of hardware and costly downtime for agencies to upscale – consuming already stretched agency budgets, decreasing productivity, and causing additional user headaches.
And, with upgrades in technology, our military personnel are becoming more reliant on quickly delivered data for map imaging, safety, and mission success on our frontlines – making it imperative that data delivery and interruptions in service are not of a concern. To meet these ever-changing needs and ensure seamless, quick service, government and defense agencies need a solution that enables them to scale usage over time with changing requirements. To answer this call, agencies have been looking to application delivery controllers (ADC) that offer a new path – enabling them to obtain on-demand elasticity and scalability to meet current needs and future growth via licenses, such as with Citrix’s NetScaler. These flexible ADC solutions enable scalability to be increased by license upgrades without replacing hardware – saving budget, downtime, and criticism from users that are unhappy with inoperable services. This easily-added scalability improves the system performance, including the delivery of many government-used applications such as SharePoint, Exchange, and Lync.
Equally as important is a robust solution that has protection mechanisms, capable of thwarting denial-of-service (DoS) attacks across the computer stack – keeping sensitive data secure in some of the riskiest situations. Having a solution with robust security mechanisms is especially important for our country’s most confidential and heavily relied upon information. Security should be focused in four main areas: network-layer protection, application-layer protection, access and access control, and authentication, confidentiality and encryption.
Optimizing and delivering enterprise and cloud services are always a priority of government and defense agencies, and ensuring the upmost user experience and data security is important for public reputations. It is imperative that defense agencies look to next-generation load balancing to increase scalability when needed – conserving already restricted budgets – and ensuring the safety and security of all data, whether on the frontlines or in the office. With these modernizations, defense agencies are sure to have successful data-intense systems capable of standing up to increasing network demands and growing DoS attacks.