This syndicated post originally appeared at Network World Zeus Kerravala.

The term “software-defined” is very overused in IT these days, but for Instart Logic, it’s actually accurate.

Application delivery has always been a huge pain in the neck. There are so many factors to consider – the device, browser, wired network, wireless network, cloud provider, etc. Frankly, considering all of the variables involved in delivering applications, it’s remarkable that anything works at all.

Between the application and the user, there are many points where problems can occur. There’s the application itself – some aren’t network-friendly, queries can be lengthy, sometimes the application is faster than the device it runs on, sometimes it’s the other way around. Then there’s the data center or cloud provider – how much can it scale, how fast is the network, where are the points of latency and storage interconnects. The last mile is an issue as well – wired and wireless have significantly different characteristics. Other issues include the operating system, distance that the data travels, and the endpoint itself. Diversity, distance, congestion, latency, and topology all play a role in how applications perform over networks.

To solve the application delivery problem, businesses have had to cobble together a bunch of different solutions and hope they work together. Enterprises use technologies like WAN optimization, application delivery controllers, and content delivery networks (CDNs) to solve these problems. These technologies all excel at what they do, but they are limited to a specific type of application. Also, most application delivery solutions tend to be single-sided, so they stop at the edge of a network.

Recently, an interesting startup called Instart Logic has launched a “software-defined application delivery” solution. When I first saw this I chuckled, as the “software defined” term has certainly become overused in the IT markets today. However, after digging a little deeper into how the solution works, the “SD” tag is actually accurate.

Consider a software-defined network (SDN). SDNs simplify networking by creating an abstraction layer that sits above the infrastructure to provide centralized control. It’s this abstraction layer that enables the network to be software-defined. Similarly, Instart Logic creates an abstraction layer of application delivery capabilities that sits above the infrastructure to enable an end-to-end application delivery solution. This includes everything from last mile all the way to the application. Instart Logic’s application-delivery fabric provides features such as:

  • Instant load
  • Image re-sizing and transcoding
  • Image, Javascript, and HTML streaming
  • Distributed caching
  • Global network accelerator
  • PCI compliance

Customers of the company have seen some great results using the software-defined application delivery solution. The company highlighted a UK retailer that saw a 35% improvement in page load times. Easing the load off the backend servers enabled the retailer to scale to higher volumes without additional hardware.

Another customer switched from a traditional CDN and saw an instant boost in conversion rates, including a whopping 126% boost on smartphones. A good user experience will get customers to buy more, where a poor one causes customers to go elsewhere.

The approach Instart Logic is taking is certainly unique to application delivery today, but given the problems that every company tends to have with it, innovation in this space is long overdue.

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Zeus Kerravala

Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and long term strategic advice.
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