Application Traffic Management

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Application Traffic Management Definition

Application traffic management (ATM) refers to techniques for intercepting, analyzing, decoding, and directing web traffic to the optimum resources based on specific policies. Also called network traffic management, it allows network administrators to significantly increase overall network application performance by routing and filtering packets based on content in their payloads or headers. By applying these standards for security, scalability, availability, and performance to any IP-based application users can save money and improve efficiency.

This image depicts an application traffic management diagram on the process of applications being transported to the data center through load balancers.


Application Traffic Management FAQs

What is Application Traffic Management?

Application traffic management (ATM) refers to controlling and monitoring all application connectivity and availability issues. By enhancing availability, efficiency, and security, ATM addresses capacity and ensures the network is a well-managed, high-value resource.

Application Delivery Controllers (ADC) provide ATM by quickly optimizing the delivery and routing of specific types of data to ideal resources. Unlike legacy appliance-based ADCs, modern solutions use deep packet inspection combined with rules and policies to determine what type of data it is and other application performance metrics, in the process of finding the right organizational servers to route it to. This allows the system to prioritize certain types of data, sending mission-critical data preferentially to high-performing servers.

Application Delivery Controllers and Application Traffic Management

Application delivery controllers, also called load balancers, handle several types of application traffic as they discern how to route data:

Burst Traffic. This is inconsistent traffic (like downloads with large files such as video or images) that comes in bursts and then subsides. This kind of traffic exhausts application availability by immediately consuming a high bandwidth, so load balancers can contain it by limiting bandwidth access.

Interactive Traffic. Interactive traffic consists of short pairs of requests and responses (like online shopping or browsing) that involve applications and end-users in real-time interactions. These exchanges result in poor application response time and reduced bandwidth. Manage interactive traffic by prioritizing requirements over other traffic.

Latency Sensitive Traffic. This traffic is time-sensitive, such as live gaming, VoIP, video streaming, and Video Conferencing. The application depends on a steady stream of traffic and on-time service, but still may experience sudden bursts of traffic despite an ongoing demand for required data packets. A range of bandwidth based on priorities is the way to handle this issue with load balancing.

Non-Real-Time Traffic. Emails and batch processing applications generate non-real-time traffic in which real-time delivery is less critical. Scheduling bandwidth outside business hours is important to effective traffic management here.

Benefits of Application Traffic Management Solutions

A well-run network with smarter ATM delivers several key benefits for organizations:

Simplified infrastructure. A public cloud service that replaces hardware-based application servers is better equipped to scale without sacrificing quality.

Reduced costs. When application performance improves and brings user experience along with it, companies’ costs for customer support drop. A cloud-native process for application delivery and traffic management also saves on maintenance and hardware acquisition costs.

Enhanced productivity. When team members can easily access services and information on applications anywhere, from any device, efficiency is optimal. Applications can perform faster with cloud-native management.

Improved end-user experience. Faster, smoother, more user-centric experiences are possible with efficient cloud-based application traffic management.

Improved security performance. Smarter routing and optimal resource management protect the entire system from internal and external threats and keep applications secure.

Application Traffic Management Best Practices

There are several important best practices for application traffic management to keep in mind.

Data source

Application traffic managers work with two main sources of data: flow data and packet data. The controller acquires flow data from routers and other Layer 3 devices. Flow data informs the system about traffic volumes and the routes network packets travel. This helps improve performance by better using available resources because it identifies unauthorized WAN traffic.

The application traffic manager sources packet data from mirror ports and SPAN to better understand how the application and users are interacting and to track those interactions on WAN. The controller can use these data sets to assess security issues such as suspicious malware.

Real-time and historical data

Real-time data is critical to effective application traffic monitoring, but historical data is also important to optimized performance. Both types of data are crucial to analyzing past events, identifying trends, and comparing new activity to past behavior.

Internal and external traffic monitoring

Most networks are configured with intrusion detection systems, but a huge number of them lack sufficient internal traffic monitoring. This means the entire system is vulnerable to internal damage from a rogue IoT device or corrupt mobile that is inside. This also means that any internal errors or misconfiguration could result in the firewall allowing malicious traffic.

Does VMware NSX Advanced Load Balancer Offer Application Traffic Management Solutions?

Yes. The VMware NSX Advanced Load Balancer delivers multi-cloud application services such as load balancing and ingress controller services for containerized applications with microservices architecture through dynamic service discovery, ATM, and web application security. Container Ingress provides scalable and enterprise-class Kubernetes ingress traffic management, including local and global server load balancing (GSLB), web application firewall (WAF), and performance monitoring, across multi-cluster, multi-region, and multi-cloud environments. The VMware NSX Advanced Load Balancer integrates seamlessly with Kubernetes for microservices and container orchestration and security.

For more on the actual implementation of load balancing, security applications and web application firewalls check out our Application Delivery How-To Videos.