Over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created every single day, and it’s only going to grow from there. By 2020, it’s estimated that 1.7MB of data will be created every second for every person on earth.
We are drowning in a deluge of data. It is constantly being generated, collected, transferred, modified, and analyzed. The pervasiveness of data permeates every aspect of our lives. Even when we aren't actively producing data - such as writing this post - the shadowy world of data collection is humming along. My refrigerator is constantly checking its internal sensors so it can inform me when it's time to order a new filter. My watch is periodically measuring - and storing - my heart rate. My service provider is collecting telemetry that informs it where I am and the strength of the signal between my phone and the nearest cell towers.
All to generate this:
44.5133° N, 88.0133° W
This is data. Raw data. When viewed in its naked, unaltered form it is nothing but numbers and letters. Some of it may make sense (you did recognize pi in there, didn't you?) but some is indecipherable. That's because on its own, data has very little value. If I pasted the data that represents the latest meme or viral video, you'd never make sense of it. While some people are able to pick out bits of information from raw data, the vast majority of people on earth cannot. That means that the 2.5 quintillion bytes of data generated is virtually meaningless.
This runs counter to every message we hear. Data is the future. Data is king. Data is priceless.
Data is the fuel that makes the digital economy run. But like fuel, it's not really valuable until it’s put into something like a car or a bus or a plane or the furnace in your utility room. In the digital world, that "something" is an application that will interpret, analyze, and display the data in a way that enables us to make use of it.
The bits and bytes that fuel the digital economy are generated, directed, collected, and analyzed by applications. That makes applications, as our own Kara Sprague noted, the most important asset a business owns. Without applications to interface with the mystifying menagerie of data produced, it's worth nothing more than the disk it is stored on.
The strategic importance of data can only be realized through an application. And an application can only fulfil its purpose by interacting with data. This strategic codependency can be clearly seen in this year's State of Application Services report.
The truth is that applications have a profound impact on corporate strategies, decisions, and policies today. Respondents to our survey declared big-data analytics (47%) as the most strategic. IaaS (46%), SDN (42%), and real-time threat analytics (41%) are number two, three, and four.
Interestingly, these four trends fall into two categories: those with a data focus (big data & real-time threat analytics) and those with an application focus (IaaS & SDN). The former is concerned with the analysis and subsequent use of data, while the latter are necessary components to realize the business objective of getting apps released more frequently - noted by nearly half (48%) of respondents as a consequence of digital transformation efforts.
Given this, it wasn't a surprise to see that machine learning/artificial intelligence (38%) and private cloud (38%) follow closely behind the top strategic trends. Organizations clearly understand the value of data and its importance to future success. The applications that collect, store, analyze, and act upon that data are therefore of paramount importance.
The two are inseparable. Where we find apps, we find data. Where we find data, we find apps.
Data Focus Trends
App Focus Trends
Real-time Threat Analytics
ML / AI
It's not just in strategy that we see the influence of applications and data on organizations. In decisions regarding both the choice of cloud for deployment and protection by a web application firewall (WAF), the application is front and center.
Organizations have, on average, two to six different cloud providers. The top three criteria for choosing one of them for an app deployment are focused on the application, including the type of user of the application.
Looking at how organizations make security decisions with respect to WAF protection for applications, we see the application as the number one criterion, closely followed by the data.
What the State of Application Services is clearly showing us is that strategically, applications and data share importance. Without applications, data is virtually useless. Even IoT devices depend on applications, albeit very small, focused applications. The gadget may be the source of data, but it is an application that retrieves and transmits that data to another application where it is processed and stored. The Internet of Things is the business of applications, after all. Turns out that is just as true for the rest of the digital economy.
Of course, the corollary to the importance of applications to data is that without data, most applications are virtually useless. The critical nature of data to the digital economy subsequently demands that applications be viewed as just as important. Realistically, the apps have a slight edge in ranking for importance merely because without them the data can't be acted upon or used in a meaningful way to guide business decisions.
It seems reasonable, then, to say that applications are the most valuable asset a corporation has today, because they are the gateways and guardians of petabytes of precious data. Their availability, security, and speed are subsequently important to both the consumers and corporate constituents who interact with them.
And that means the application services that make apps fast, secure, and available are only going to grow along with the importance of the applications they support.
To find out more about the State of Application Services and the trends and technologies driving their deployment and usage on-premises and off, check out this year's interactive report.