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Application awareness

Application awareness definition

Application awareness is the ability of a system to recognize and classify applications passing through it. It allows the system to make decisions based on the application, its features, and the content it's carrying — as opposed to traditional network metrics like IP addresses or ports.

In simple terms, application awareness is about making systems smarter and more adaptable. This allows them to make decisions based on detailed knowledge of the applications running on them. This, in turn, can help improve performance, security, and manageability.

See also: Application allow-listing

Application awareness examples and uses

  • Network traffic management. An application-aware corporate network could identify that an employee is using a high-bandwidth app like video streaming. The system could then limit that app's throughput to ensure enough bandwidth is available for other critical business applications.
  • Security. An application-aware firewall could recognize when a known malicious app is trying to access the network. Instead of blocking traffic based on an IP address or port (which the intruder can easily change), the firewall can block traffic specifically from that application, offering a more robust level of protection.
  • Data backup and recovery. In a data center, an application-aware backup solution could recognize the specific needs of different apps. For instance, it could take more frequent backups of a rapidly-changing database than of a relatively static web server.