What Are Application Services?

Application services are a set of interconnected services such as load balancing, performance monitoring, security, proxy, and service discovery, required to deploy, run, and manage applications.

Application Services

How do application services work? 

The environment in which applications are deployed is changing faster than ever before. If your traffic suddenly spikes, this could indicate a legitimate demand for a product or service, and there might be a need for additional resources to fill that demand. On the other side, if it is a bots traffic, it can be malicious and lead to perpetrate fraud, or they can be used to create mayhem on social media. Some determined cyber-criminals can penetrate previously tight-knit defenses. 

Server outages can disrupt normal traffic patterns, potentially taking an application offline for some or all users. Security and delivery technology, such as traffic management, web application firewalls, load balancing, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) protection, and API management, interact with the environment around the application, enabling it to adapt to changing conditions. Application service orchestration ensures your applications’ performance, security, and operability by shaping and steering traffic in response to the application state, the nature of the traffic itself, and other environmental factors.

ADC+, a product of Appviewx can help you streamline your application services with the help of centralized control center. You can visit this link to dive deep into various use-cases around application services automation. 

Why are application services important?  

As digital transformation reshapes the modern enterprise, applications are becoming an increasingly important source of differentiation. It is becoming increasingly important for organizations to be able to manage thousands of applications at unprecedented scales. As innovation increases, so, too, have concerns about security and delivering a consistent experience across environments. Application services help organizations boost performance, maintain availability, improve network and application security, and gain visibility into the behavior and health of their applications. Enterprises can get started quickly and easily by using application services management system like Appviewx ADC+ that can coordinate between multiple vendors including F5, Nginx, Citrix, AVI, A10 etc. By incorporating these services into their systems, businesses can improve their efficiency, increase adaptability, and achieve a long-term competitive advantage. 

Common Application Services and Their Devices

Load Balancing

Load balancing refers to the distribution of application traffic across server pools in a way that improves application delivery speed, server performance, and application availability. Load balancers (the device that performs load balancing) can be both hardware-based and software-based. Load balancers that distribute traffic based on the geography of the request are called Global Service Load Balancers, and help reduce latency by directing traffic to servers or other load balancers closest to the origin of the request. A new breed of load balancers, called Application Delivery Controllers (ADCs), perform additional functions such as SSL offloading, data compression, and caching, other than load balancing.

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Domain Name System (DNS)

DNS translates queries entered by humans (such as appviewx.com) into a machine-readable IP address. It works like a phonebook, mapping domain names to IP addresses. DNS is sometimes expanded as Domain Name Server; however, rather than a single server, Domain Name System is a network of interconnected servers, each of which performs a particular step in domain name resolution. In the example appviewx.com, the request is received by a Recursive DNS Resolver. It searches its cache for the IP address – if it finds the record, it returns it to the client, else it forwards the request to a Root nameserver, which directs it to a TLD server. The TLD server resolves the Top Level Domain (.com) and directs the DNS resolver to the Authoritative Nameserver, which returns the IP address of the domain (appviewx.com) to the DNS resolver. The DNS resolver sends the IP address to the client, which then contacts the web server at that IP address to fetch the application.

Web Application Firewall (WAF)

WAFs are the first line of defense for applications against attacks over the internet. WAFs monitor and filter HTTP/S traffic to the web application from the internet based on a set of policies or rules that are configured on it. They prevent malicious traffic and protect applications from a variety of application-layer attacks such as cross-site forgery, cross-site scripting, SQL injection, etc. WAF functions as a reverse-proxy by sitting in front of the web servers and forcing traffic from the client to the server to pass through it.

Application Performance Monitoring

Application Performance Monitoring (APM) tools ensure applications meet performance standards and deliver value to the end-user. They collect data on performance metrics such as resource utilization, error rate, response time, availability, user satisfaction, etc., and provide administrators and engineers with the insights required to detect and resolve issues. APM tools help application administrators reduce MTTR and meet SLAs.

Service Discovery

Service discovery is the process of automatically discovering devices and services (server pools, firewall, vault, etc.) in a network that an application can connect to and use. The service and endpoint locations are stored in a database called Service Registry, which is updated as and when services are added or terminated. The applications discover and connect to these services through REST APIs. Service discovery eliminates the need to set up new configurations each time an application needs to access a service. Service discovery is especially useful in multi-cloud and microservices architectures, where network locations of services change dynamically.

Application Service Management

The process of configuring, automating, and orchestrating the above application services is called application service management. Application service management is traditionally done by Application Service Providers (APS), who provide full-stack applications to end-users and also manage them at a fixed cost. These days, most organizations either have their own data centers and in-house NetOps teams, or host their applications on private, public, or hybrid clouds, with the cloud provider’s team managing the network and application services in the latter two.

Application service orchestration involves automating the way applications connect to and consume these services, with minimal manual intervention. It stitches these services together and provides a single service environment for the applications to consume. This way, network engineers and operations teams do not need to configure each service separately during application changes (new application deployment, updates, or scaling-up/down resources for traffic management). Application service orchestration significantly reduces configuration errors and service request processing times and improves application performance and availability.

Service Orchestration Tools

Tools that orchestrate application services are vendor-agnostic and operate across on-premise, hybrid, and multi-cloud deployments. Integration with ITSM tools is a must-have for continuity of operations and mapping with the overall business process. Orchestration tools also provide a level of self-servicing for application teams to manipulate the services that their applications consume, with appropriate role-based access controls. They also function as an APM tool themselves, performing troubleshooting and incident management.

Managing Cloud App Services and Microservices

Application services in the cloud and microservice architectures are highly virtualized and dynamic, and they come with their own management platforms. While they’re ideal for born-in-the-cloud greenfield deployments, brownfield deployments that still have some legacy network components need tools that bridge the divide between the old and the new deployments. Application service orchestration tools come to the rescue here – being environment-agnostic, they operate both on-premise and on cloud/microservices, and ensure application performance and availability don’t take a hit. They also help in the automatic migration of applications and service configurations from on-premise to cloud, eradicating the need to script from scratch.

Another important aspect of cloud and microservices is the sheer number of moving parts that these two deployments involve, from services to toolchains. This is where governance comes in. Service orchestration tools should ensure standardization of processes across systems and check for deviations from the IT policy. Governance involves detecting and rectifying configuration drifts, which the tool automates.

Looking for a tool to orchestrate application services? Learn about AppViewX’s closed-loop, context-aware orchestration capabilities that provide end-to-end automation of application services.

How does ADC+ handle application services? 

Application Services are needed to keep applications fast, secure, and available. ADC+ centrally manages multi-vendor application services available in the market, in various form factors, including hardware, software, and SaaS, across cloud providers and on-premises. In addition, it integrates well in both multi-cloud and hybrid cloud environment leading to unified delivery and security architecture that simplifies application delivery while improving overall security and operability.