Every year, Cindy Borovick and I present the findings from our annual State of App Strategy research to our CEO and his team. And every year we prepare for the same question: “What surprised you this year?”
Honestly, nothing much about app delivery and security surprises me anymore. But this year one data point cropped up that sent me scrounging through the data to answer the question, “Why?”
The data point? The excitement over multi-cloud networking. Specifically, why is it in the top four “most exciting” technologies this year?
The answers to why zero trust and even IT/OT are exciting the market seem obvious and neither are surprising, particularly after IT/OT stole the top spot in last year’s survey. But multi-cloud networking seems to have come out of nowhere in the last mile, suddenly sprinting past newer trends and technologies like AIOps and edge computing.
The answer is rooted in the reality of hybrid IT.
Let’s walk through this one, shall we?
First, the majority of enterprises are destined to be hybrid. Our data demonstrates it, as do other data points from across the industry, such as the 67% of respondents to a Hornetsecurity survey that tagged “hybrid IT” as a destination, not a transitory state.
Hybrid IT means every layer of the IT stack extends across core, cloud, and edge. It is a technology portmanteau (of sorts) that mixes modern and traditional IT. That means the term ‘multi-cloud’ includes infrastructure, apps and app delivery, and data resources that reside on-premises, in the public cloud, and is starting to expand to the edge. Again, year after year of data shows apps and app services are, in fact, distributed across all three environments. Hybrid IT is reality.
Second, this reality creates complexity. Public cloud and edge environments have their own ways of working, distinct APIs, and different taxonomies. These rarely match one for one with traditional IT, and cause conflict and challenges for businesses trying to take advantage of the agility and elasticity of more modern environments.
Third, the complexity inherent in disparate tools and technologies also makes it difficult for organizations to determine which environment is the most cost-efficient for any given app. And in today’s macroeconomic conditions, that’s a significant problem.
And lastly, optimizing the performance of distributed applications is made more difficult by the tendency to rely on cloud-provider app delivery and security services whose knobs and buttons and operational models are as different as the logos on their websites.
This is exactly what the data shows this year. When we dig into the multi-cloud challenges frustrating the market, we find that those citing complexity, cost, and performance are most excited by multi-cloud networking:
When I cut the data the other way, looking at the top challenges cited by those who tagged multi-cloud networking as “most exciting” technology, guess what? Yeah. The same three challenges rise to the top as one, two, and three.
Hybrid IT is not new; it was born when the first enterprise extended its reach to its first public cloud. And neither are the multi-cloud challenges that arise from trying to operate with a hybrid IT stack.
We’ve been tracking those challenges for years now, and the same ones keep rising to the fore: consistency, performance, and visibility. But this year, complexity shot to the top of the list and drove consistent security to second place.
So perhaps it shouldn’t have been a surprise to see multi-cloud networking suddenly become exciting because multi-cloud networking is basically multi-cloud middleware that seamlessly and securely interconnects sites across core, cloud, and edge and delivers consistent app delivery and security services.
But it was, and perhaps that’s what surprised me the most: after more than twenty years in app delivery and security, the market can still surprise me.
Stay tuned for more insights, and more digging into data. The State of App Strategy 2023 is about to go live!