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Has the Time Come For Network Managers to Say, "App Team Serve Thyself"?

Published January 15, 2019
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You can’t please all the people all the time. But sometimes, you can make them go and complain to someone else.


Network operations teams have long been the backstop for keeping applications up and running. They’ve also been a vital part of securing them from attack. We all know a lot of application hacks can and should be prevented with secure code, but we also still see successful compromises using age-old weapons like SQL injection or buffer overflows. It doesn’t look like network teams can stop worrying about layer 7 anytime soon. App teams need the application-layer skills and services the network team brings—even if they don’t want to admit it.

In a recent survey conducted by Appian, one in 5 respondents reported a backlog of over 50 application requests, and 72 percent don't believe they can scale up to meet demand.

Crashing hard against this buttress are two unstoppable forces:

  1. Time to market (or time to value) is becoming predominant. Everyone is moving faster, trying to create apps to better serve customers or to extract digital gold from the ever-increasing data deposits that every action online seems to produce. This demand for digital transformation is inspiring new architectures and processes, designed to optimize the way enterprises deliver IT. The State of Application Delivery 2018 Report from F5 detailed that 72 percent of respondents viewed optimization and 56 percent viewed competitive advantage as key drivers of digital transformation.

  2. The waterfall method of application development and deployment is giving way to a more agile, iterative process. Powered by DevOps methodologies, culture shifts, and a lot of new tools and platforms like CI/CD toolchains, container management systems, and the cloud; app teams now go from source commit to running production binary in a fraction of the time. And they can do it three times a day. In a recent survey conducted by Appian, one in 5 respondents reported a backlog of over 50 application requests, and 72 percent don’t believe they can scale up to meet demand.



The result of these macro and micro changes can be boiled down to one key change for operations: Our app team customers need our infrastructure (physical, virtual, or pixie dust) to change more often, and faster. And if you can’t give it to them, then cloud platforms can.

While just pushing all the layer 7 networking issues downstream and back to the app team can seem really appealing, the network team still has a role and a responsibility to try and stop everything from catching fire. So you have to be part of the process. But you might not want to respond to increasing numbers of changes by actually doing them. Even with automation tools, scripts and better vendor APIs, you still need to get out of the way. Spending your time doing routine and trivial changes is a waste of your time and costly for your organization.

Really, there’s only one way to solve this problem. While meeting your responsibility to help apps work right and hold on to your sanity—let the app teams do it themselves. I’m not suggesting you   let them loose on the infrastructure unaccompanied. App teams don’t always have the skills to build what’s needed, even if AWS or Google Cloud Platform would let them do it. No, you need to give them directed choices. They know what they need, and it’s your job now to build the systems that can take their needs and turn them into safe and sane changes to the infrastructure. It’s time to build legitimate, scalable self-service interfaces for your app teams.

This will change the way you work, the skills you need, and the way your internal customers see you. It might even mean you need to change some of your infrastructure.

Application delivery services are still going to be critical to making apps work fast, reliably and safely. But not every ADC is going to deliver all the advanced services you need in a way that lets you move fast enough.


BIG-IP Cloud Edition delivers the industry’s most advanced application services but in a new, per- application architecture. And you can manage it via an enhanced management tool that provides deployment automation, templating, and auto-scale capabilities combined with role-specific visibility and troubleshooting tools. This means you can deliver right-sized application services wherever they’re needed—in the cloud, on premises, and at the edge.

BIG-IP Cloud Edition delivers the application delivery and security services that F5 is known for, but in a package that offers self-service, multi-cloud, and application-dedicated functionality that’s designed for every app, anywhere. App teams get simple deployments with great performance while NetOps  and security teams stay in control but can get out of the way.

Learn more at f5.com/cloudedition.