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Sunday, June 25th, 2017

Secure Your Apps

The DevOps clarity that every CIO must convey to business heads

The reported expansion of US retail giant Amazon into South-east Asia this year, although delayed, underscores the pressure on incumbents in the region’s retail sector to innovate, build on their strengths and stand out from the competition.

In India, Amazon is already the fastest growing marketplace, and the most visited site on both desktop and mobile while customers across the region have made purchases from the company’s websites listing hundreds of millions of genuine products. Although online retail penetration in South-east Asia – home to more than 250 million smartphone users – is still low compared to China and the US, the prospects are huge.

Bain & Company estimates that 100 million consumers in the region have made a digital purchase while a larger group of 150 million has been researching products or engaging with sellers online. Category-wise, e-shoppers have purchased products and services ranging from clothing and footwear to beauty and health to travel online.

App spring

The great e-commerce potential has drawn digital competitors and on-demand businesses, such as Uber and Airbnb, to the region. These digitally agile market entrants exemplify how rapid technological change and shortened innovation cycles can disrupt entire industries. They thrive on a slew of ever-evolving, mission-critical applications that are supported by highly scalable infrastructure.

The pressure to upgrade and deploy more apps more frequently without disrupting critical services has spurred organizations to seek operational benefits provided by the use of DevOps-related frameworks and toolsets.

DevOps tools and application programming interfaces (APIs) are used to drive greater automation and orchestration, as well as programmability of the infrastructure to boost application performance and operational efficiency. Puppet’s 2016 State of DevOps report pointed out that high-performing IT teams deploy apps 200 times more frequently than low performers, with 2,555 times faster lead times and one-third the change failure rate. And they are able to spend 29% more time than their low-performing peers on new features or code.

In a separate study, F5 Networks found that despite being traditionally tied to increased speed to market, the key drivers for the use of DevOps tools and APIs remain scalability and reduction of operational expenses.

However, Lori MacVittie, principal technical evangelist at F5 Networks, highlighted three key concerns that are likely responsible for detering IT and business leadership from embracing DevOps: It takes time, it can be disruptive, and there’s a very good chance of lock-in.

“It behooves those supportive of DevOps to illustrate to business leaders a clear set of objectives and expected benefits that will arise from embarking on such projects,” wrote MacVittie in a blog post. “Whether it’s cost savings or a more responsive IT, it’s important for business to understand the anticipated payback on the investment to get them to buy in and support the effort.”

Further, it makes more sense to replace today’s outmoded manual methods with DevOps to provision, scale and manage systems. As application portfolios grow quickly with increased digitalization, businesses will require the ability to respond on-demand to needs for capacity and services.

Future rewards

Organizations will also find it worthwhile to spend time upfront designing and architecting a system that takes advantage of APIs and templates as much as possible. The reward will be reduced reliance on device and system-specific APIs and ease of migration to new apps in the future.

“Make sure infrastructure supports a REST-based API and when at all possible, use templates to enable easy extraction from systems and environments later on,” MacVittie suggested.

The importance of APIs in helping IT organizations to rapidly create and launch new applications and business models as well as streamline customer engagement and sales across multiple channels in the digital economy has engendered the API economy.

However, while the API economy’s emphasis seems to be on applications and their users, MacVittie stressed that in the data center, it is “the foundation upon which the ecosystem of automation and orchestration is being built, device by device, system by system, service by service”.

An API-enabled programmable infrastructure facilitates automation and orchestration and frees organizations to mix and match diverse tools and technologies to deliver and secure applications and to support business growth. The bottomline is that APIs, templates, and algorithms are helping business and IT leaders to transform traditional operations digitally and achieve greater agility, scalability and efficiency to compete in the digital economy.

This is a QuestexAsia feature commissioned by F5 Networks Asia Pacific.