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The State of Application Delivery 2018: Digital Transformation Driving Automation and Multi-Cloud Despite Security Concerns

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TL;DR Our fourth annual State of Application Delivery report is now available. Organizations report high interest in deploying gateway services, are employing automation and orchestration to optimize IT, and they are increasingly concerned by the difficult in protecting apps – especially in the public cloud.

 

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

This inspirational quote is almost always attributed to Mahatma Gandhi even though that’s not really what he said. According to some folks with more time on their hands than I have, what he actually said was “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him.” 

If that’s a bit too wordy, my mother often told me much the same thing with greater brevity (a virtue I obviously failed to inherit): “To have a friend, you must first be a friend.”

There are other variations, I’m sure, but they all boil down to the same core concept: to transform interactions with the outside world, you must first transform yourself. That works on a personal level, a team and department level, even the corporate level.

Based on over 3000 responses from around the globe and spanning every industry and size of organization, that’s exactly what the 72% of enterprises with digital transformation initiatives are doing. Though copious amounts of digital ink are spent debating which C-level executive should drive digital transformation efforts and reminders that you need a solid API strategy lest your competitors eat your base for lunch, enterprises appear to be focusing on laying the digital foundation for their future digital business.  They need apps to draw and delight new customers. They need APIs to harness the power of partners and citizen developers. They need personalized marketing that responds in real-time to visitors’ needs. 

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But before they can succeed with such profound changes on the outside, they first need to change the inside. They need a fast, flexible foundation to compete in the digital economy.

And their responses to our 2018 State of Application Delivery report shows that’s what they are doing.

Fifty-five (55%) percent are employing automation and orchestration. Forty-nine (49%) percent are moving to deliver apps from the public cloud. And 41% are exploring new app architectures (microservices) and environments (containers). 

That move to public cloud is already underway. IaaS sprang to the top of the technologies expected to have a strategic impact on respondents, leaping from 38% in 2017 to 50% in 2018, past both PaaS and private cloud. Given that in 2017 organizations reported using an average of 1.7 different types of cloud and in 2018 now use an average of 2.1 different cloud models, that expectation bears out in reality. The majority (76%) work with two or more cloud providers. An impressive 59% report working with 2-6 different providers.

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Multi-cloud is already a reality.

That reality, in turn, is exposing a lack of confidence in protecting apps – particularly when they’re deployed in the public cloud.

In fact, confidence in protecting apps declined 4% year over year, dropping from 45% in 2017 to 41% in 2018.

That may explain why security app services as a whole leapt to an even larger lead over availability as “the worst thing to deploy an app without.” While the two categories were virtually tied in 2016, security broke ahead in 2017 with 39% and now has a commanding lead at 43% in 2018.

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A solid 33% still think availability is more critical, while identity, performance, and mobility services are steadily declining in importance. 

I encourage you to explore the results in our State of Application Delivery 2018 report. There’s more on automation and orchestration, containers, security, and of course, the focus of our research: app services. To give you a better taste of what’s inside before you click away, I’ll leave you with the key findings:

01 | KEY FINDING

Digital transformation inspires new architectures and IT optimization initiatives.
Optimizing IT infrastructure and processes remains the primary driver for digital transformation projects. Cloud adoption and automation provide the speed, space, and scalability required by organizations undergoing digital transformation.

02 | KEY FINDING

Multi-cloud enables the “best cloud for the app” strategy.
Multi-cloud architectures boost flexibility and agility, but organizations are concerned about the complexity of managing distributed apps—as well as the challenges of protecting them from persistent and emergent threats.

03 | KEY FINDING

Application services are the gateways to the future. 
On average, organizations take advantage of 16 different application services to help keep their critical apps fast, safe, and available. Security is still the most important application service, but application gateway services emerged as key services to be deployed in the next 12 months.

04 | KEY FINDING

Security confidence falls as multi-cloud rises. 
Digital transformation drives organizations to deliver more apps from the cloud yet organizational confidence to withstand an attack has taken a hit due to lack of experience and expertise in securing applications deployed in public clouds. Organizations that deployed WAFs were most confident in their security—both in public and private clouds.

05 | KEY FINDING

Automation and orchestration: full steam ahead. 
IT is embracing programmability—and standardizes on their automation and orchestration environments—to realize leaner IT with the goal of reducing OpEx. The use of containers ticks up as organizations seek faster, smarter scale through new application architectures and deployment models.

You can get your very own copy of the State of Application Delivery 2018 at f5.com/SOAD. You can also follow @F5Networks on the Twitters (or #SOAD18) for more insights on multi-cloud, NetOps, security, and app services.  

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