Are appliances the answer? That depends entirely on the question of course. I've spoken with a number of suppliers who have "encapsulated" a function and are selling it as an appliance server. Cisco, for one, has made a living selling pieces of the networking stack as appliances. This time, I spoke with Coyote Point's Bill Kish.
If the target it providing simple, easy-to-use, functions, server appliances can most certainly be the answer. This makes a complex function easy for medium and small organizations to obtain the same tools and play on the same field with "the big boys." Coyote Point's products clearly are designed to make application acceleration, high availability, load balancing, network security and a few other functions so easy that even an an analyst, such as my friend Dan Kusnetzky, to put them to use.
The challenges of this approach, are also obvious. The code within these appliance servers is often frozen in time and have a limited amount of scalability. For some functions, such as those being offered by Coyote Point, that's not an issue. Multiple appliance servers can be deployed when the requirements for a function outgrow the available resources. For other functions, this can be a problem.
If your organization is seeking easy to use networking and load balancing functions, I'd suggest giving Coyote Point's product some of your attention.