app services are essential for the future of IT

Each day, we’re hearing more and more about digital transformation, the deep transformation of businesses, institutions and models to a digital context. The concept itself might not sound as innovative to some: after all, the change to digital is something that has been going on for several years now. But the difference now is that, when we talk about digital transformation, we’re also talking about a new layer of doing things. Digitalization gives us a valuable resource, data, which can be put to incredible uses if carefully thought-out. With the proper strategy and prioritization, it can lead to an unprecedented level of accelerated impact. 

In today’s world, then, those who fail to have a successful digital transformation risk getting left behind by the competition. This is where application services enter. Services like DDoS mitigation, security, load balancing and even IoT gateways are some of the solutions currently offered to those looking to take that next digital step. A company that offers such services is F5 Networks, an application service provider based in Seattle that believes this line of work is essential to the future of the IT. 

According to a report published by the company, app services are at the center of it all. The report is based on some 2,000 results gathered from different industries, company sizes, roles and nationalities. F5 Networks asked IT leaders “how they’re using app services to address the challenges and opportunities presented by the ongoing process of digital transformation.” The study is divided in four main key findings made by the company. They are: 

An app-first cloud 

The first key finding showed that 87% of respondents have multi-cloud architectures, driven by an app-first methodology. “For most organizations, the adoption of multiple clouds has moved beyond experimentation stages to become a deliberate strategy,” writes the report. “The clear majority (87%) of respondents reported that they operate in a multi-cloud environment—and do so to drive business growth by reaping the benefits of public cloud platforms and associated technologies such as artificial intelligence and developer ecosystems.” 

Digital transformation is the norm 

The report found that 69% of respondents are executing digital transformation, and all thanks to app data. It concluded that “in the digital economy, applications and application data are an organization’s most valuable capita. Employees are unable to do their jobs without applications—and apps are also key in creating the first impression an organization makes to its customer.” 

The company asked respondents which strategic trends they think will be important over the next 2 to 5 years. The results were clear: the top five strategic trends according to the study are big data analytics (53%), IaaS (53%), SDN (47%), machine learning and artificial intelligence (43%), and real-time threat analytics (42%). 

Security is a main concern 

“Over the past five years, we’ve tracked the deployment of application services and seen a consistent set topping the chart every year,” writes the report. The guilty parties are antivirus, network firewall, SSL VPN and load balancing. In all, 82% accounted for antivirus; same number for firewalls, followed by 77% of SSL VPN. While those were the top services, the report also found that DDoS protection is rapidly growing. 

The average number of application services in use overall is 14, according to the study. However, there are security concerns because that number drops by half for public cloud deployments. “This means that organizations are deploying apps in the public cloud,” explains the report, “but they are not matching application services deployments at the same rate.” 

Automation is part of the transformation 

62% of respondents are deploying automation and orchestration initiatives compared to 55% last year, says F5 Networks. The disruption happening in cloud and container services is driving significant growth for the industry. At the heart of this is automation and orchestration, which at this point are essential component for successful digital transformation initiatives. More than one third have automated all four key components of the production pipeline. 

Additionally, it has become clear that organizations are considering more and more developer-oriented solutions to successfully implement automation. Many of the traditional automation offerings are limited to just managing devices. This leaves holes that need to be filled. “The maturity of existing solutions like GitHub Enterprise and Jenkins allows organizations to efficiently fill these holes and address the issue of skill scarcity in IT. Even if the market offers a viable network and infrastructure-focused alternative, we expect that the benefits of standardization on existing tools across an organization are likely to outweigh the appeal of such an offering.”