Embedded Network Applications: Friend or Foe?

M. Spanbauer
M. Spanbauer

Summary Bullets:

  • Many vendors offer embedded application platforms within either WAN or LAN equipment (or both), touting performance benefits.
  • Customer adoption remains tepid, however, and many often opt for appliances or servers/virtual machines due to convenience or familiarity.

Nearly every major networking vendor provides an application platform with which either their partners or customers themselves may embed applications.  These platforms can come in several forms, such as HP’s ONE module, which resides in a switch; Cisco’s UCS Express, a router/switch application services device; or Arista’s new 7124SX switch, to name just a few.  Potential benefits include, for example, improved packet processing performance, faster application response times, and deployment simplicity.  Whether it is a lightweight application such as a DNS or DHCP server, or something more robust such as Exchange or a call management suite, these emerging application platforms appear to be gaining steam in the market.  Vendors say their customers find ease of use, tight integration, and performance/responsiveness top the list of benefits, though operational simplicity and (perhaps more important) network team control help.  This last element is one of the most notable, as it demonstrates the divide that remains and inhibits enterprise growth into a more aggressive cloud adoption curve.  The storage, server, application, and network teams often remain separate functions; therefore, appropriation of resources to their peer groups can oftentimes be slow.  However, these quasi ‘network appliances’ give the network team back the keys to a server resource, yet administration and control remain within their domain. Continue reading “Embedded Network Applications: Friend or Foe?”