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Monday, April 22nd, 2019

Secure Your Cloud

Why app services define success in multi-cloud, digital economy

Asia Pacific organizations are keenly embracing emerging technologies such as containers and agile development technologies to deliver applications smarter and faster, according to F5 Networks’ 2019 State of Application Services report (2019 SOAS). 

For 66% of these organizations, such technologies are helping to advance ongoing or planned digital transformation initiatives and create new opportunitiesfor automation and agility. However, greater complexity as well as challenges with enforcing consistent security across multi-cloud architectures and optimizing application performance visibility have resulted. 

An outcome of this difficult is that organizations now regard application services as vital for cloud adoption and, ultimately, for success in today’s app-driven digital economy. Adam Judd, senior vice president of Asia Pacific, China and Japan at F5 Networks, observed, “The ability to enforce consistent security lies at the heart of application services. By maintaining uniform policies, security, and availability across their entire portfolio of applications, organizations can best leverage their application capital – and continue to grow their business.” 

The F5 SOAS study shows that as multi-cloud evolves into a comprehensive strategy for innovation, application services hold the key to enabling an automated, cloud-centric application landscape and strategic differentiation of DevOps as a mainstream part of operations via services such as SDN and API gateways. 

Asia Pacific organizations have been leading the charge toward greater automation and orchestration of app development and deployment pipelines with 60% of respondents already implementing such initiatives. In these organizations, cross-functional teams are speeding innovation and keeping up with the rapid rate of change required for external-facing applications. They are standardizing on developer-oriented solutions – including DevOps tools such as GitHub and Jenkins – to implement continuous integration/ continuous deployment (CI/CD) practices throughout IT. 

Clearly, application services are evolving with the processes and systems used to deliver applications in the digital economy. “On average, organizations report that they have 16 application services deployed today, up from 14 in 2017 and 11 in 2016,” pointed out Cindy Borovick, Strategy and Business Intelligence director at F5 Networks. “In 2015, the top four application services deployed were Network Firewall, Anti-Virus, Load Balancing, and SSL VPN. This year, the top four are the same with only the small shift in ranking with load balancing moving to the fourth slot and SSL VPN moving to third.”

Still, new services, such as IoT gateways and ingress control, as well as SDN gateways and API gateways, are must-haves to support the surge in containerized multi-cloud deployments. 

Competitive edge

This trend dove-tails with a new era of application capital– a concept advocated byKara Sprague, senior vice president and general manager of Application Services Business Unit at F5 – that directs companies through their digital transformation journeys. As applications become the most valuable asset in the modern enterprise, Sprague urged digital leaders to optimize and secure their application capital for competitive advantage and business impact.

“Just as employees (your human capital, if you will) need basic services to thrive in an organization, so do applications – such as traffic management, bot protection, and access management,” she explained. “This ensures they deliver the greatest value over time while exposing the business to the least risk. With humans, too much structure is stifling, and too little leads to unproductive chaos. Similarly, for applications, it’s important to build a system (i.e., the underlying infrastructure, application development and management tools, and processes) that balances effective controls with innovative freedom.”

In the digital economy where much of the user experience is delivered via the cloud, and increasingly developed by teams outside of the IT organization, application services can make or break the business. Sprague went further to suggest that “when made a core part of an enterprise-wide infrastructure, an application services provider like F5, can offer a level of assurance to the business that its application portfolio remains available, reliable, and secure”.

F5 has extended this level of assurance to the cloud with solutions such as the BIG-IP Cloud Edition, delivered on a per-application basis, and the cloud-based, fully managed Silverline security services that protect against application attacks. In the pipeline are a cloud-native application services platform optimized for CI/CD workflows, and the delivery of F5 application services “as a service”, fully managed and operated by F5. 

Apps at the helm

Meanwhile, applications are driving decisions in the digital economy. This is raising the influence of IT organizations embracing cloud and investing in skills and toolsets required for automation. In F5’s study, 42% of respondents reported that IT decides the location decisions of applications – up from 30% last year. 

“What we see is the rise of data and its use to make decisions that propel productivity and profit as the most strategically significant trend for 2019,” pointed out Lori MacVittie, principal technical evangelist at F5 Networks. “This trending strategic importance of data is likely to continue as the focus moves from where to deploy applications toward how to take advantage of the data they generate.”

F5 is also seeing the digital economy reshaping the applications landscape with “the meteoric rise of deployment of application services specifically supporting cloud-native and containerized applications”.

Again, any company aiming to survive in the digital economy must enhance and secure their application capital. “The solution is a consistent set of application services that can be applied to any app, anywhere,” Sprague concludes. “F5’s industry-leading Multi-Cloud Application Services improve the performance and end-user experience of your applications, make your developers more productive, and improve your enterprise security / risk posture.”

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