Modern App Delivery Sets Stage for Digital Business Success

Tabitha R. R. Powell Miniature
Tabitha R. R. Powell
Published March 22, 2023

Until now, the industry has viewed all the components of app delivery—DNS, load balancers, ingress control, WAAP, etc.—as largely operating on their own. But continuing in this fashion is detrimental to organizations’ digital transformation journeys. App delivery must be viewed within the bigger picture of digital services in order to enable successful digital businesses. This means application delivery and security must be in the foreground of digital business. It must be recognized as its own domain within modern enterprise architectures. 

Traditionally applications were individually designed and created, and then—only once complete—were the components of delivery considered. Since I’ll use photography to help explain, we’ll equate this to taking all of the pictures on a disposable camera, getting the film developed, and then sending the whole envelope of photos off to your grandparents. How you’re going to deliver the pictures was a decision made after the fact, whether it was driving over and dropping them off, sending them through the mail, or waiting for your grandparents to come pick them up.

As technology continually progressed, application design and development changed and the methods of delivery simultaneously advanced, providing new ways of distributing the applications to their end users, whether human, machine, or software. Pictures can now be reviewed on camera screens before printing (or not) and then delivered to the recipient as physical or digital copies. 

We are at a stage where businesses risk eliciting poor digital experiences if they don’t take a holistic, systemic approach to integrating app delivery and security with the planning and staging of digital services. Now, bear with me as I adjust my analogy slightly. 

Photos evoke feelings and while each person’s experience with a photograph may vary, there are steps professional photographers will think about before they set up a shoot to try and shape the experience they want for their audience. Light isn’t added in after the photo is taken; the tools and positioning are planned ahead along with the staging of the environment, props, and the choice of which camera and lens they will use to take the shot. (And if you want to argue that digital editing can modify the photo, the result is creating additional work to try and mimic an experience, increasing the complexity and slowing the process, rather than alleviating it.) The result, therefore, of up-front planning is the difference between picking up a phone and taking a selfie or having a professional headshot for your acting portfolio, social media pages, or company profile.

Similarly, organizations need to stage their applications by considering which environments, technologies, and processes are going to provide their business the greatest control over security, availability, and speed for their digital services. 

This need to incorporate app delivery into the design process is, in a way, similar to the notion of “shift left” in security circles. That is, involving security teams earlier in the development process to reduce risk and improve release velocity. The same approach should be broadened to include app delivery and its components, to reduce the risk of failure in delivering the exceptional digital experience customers expect. 

By staging the environment and ensuring the right services and systems are in place, organizations will benefit from eliminating delays in deployment and the risk of failure in production. 

To learn about key capabilities of a modern app delivery and security domain and the resulting adaptability that will enable successful digital businesses, read “From Marathon to Messaging,” a chapter by Chief Evangelist and distinguished engineer Lori MacVittie in our O’Reilly book, Enterprise Architecture for Digital Business.