For the first time, security surpasses availability to become the number-one priority for application deployment as organizations move to the cloud.
F5 Networks announced the EMEA results of its 2017 State of Application Delivery report. The only global report of its kind is now in its third year, surveying over 2,000 IT, networking, application, and security professionals worldwide to examine the role application services play in allowing enterprises to deploy apps faster, smarter and more securely.
EMEA is set for a dynamic year in this respect, as the average organisation plans to deploy 18 app services in the next 12 months, compared to the 2016 global average of just 11. As the threat landscape continues to evolve in complexity, speed and availability were for the first time deemed less important that overall application protection, with the most important services cited including network firewalls, anti-virus and SSL VPN solutions.
An era of cloud expertise
The highest area of investment for 2017 in EMEA was the use of on-premise private clouds (46 per cent). Almost half of respondents (48 per cent) stated the private cloud would have the most strategic importance to their organisation in the next two to five years, and that three quarters (76 per cent) of their apps would be in the cloud by 2017.
The most important security feature was that the cloud should provide the same level of security and auditability as other similar on premises services (61 per cent). This hints that organisations are concerned about the disruption moving to the cloud can have on operations.
Nevertheless, respondents indicated that a shift towards a more agile, multi-cloud world is gaining momentum. Globally, four out of five respondents indicated they are adopting hybrid cloud models. The main challenge here is maintaining consistent security policies across multiple environments (25 per cent of respondents).
“Businesses are putting their money where their strategy is when it comes to cloud,” said Martin Walshaw, senior engineer, F5 Networks.
“There are still challenges to overcome but the global shift to embrace hybrid scenario clearly shows a growing recognition that agility and speed can be achieved without compromising security, provided there are consistent policies and solutions in place.”
On a global scale, the more apps a company has deployed, the greater motivation to reap the operational benefits of the cloud, with respondents running the largest number of applications (3,000+) reporting the highest percentage of apps in the cloud.
Sophisticated cyber-attacks changing priorities
A new era of security vigilance is required as security teams expand beyond traditional firewalls and legacy enterprise perimeters. Organisations with a web application firewall (WAF) and DDoS mitigation services had the highest confidence in their ability to withstand an application-level attack and interestingly, cloud-first organisations have more confidence in their security.
“This past year, not a week went by without some hack or vulnerability making the headlines,” said Walshaw.
“And yet there is no sign that security breaches are slowing digital transformation. Our report shows how the sometimes-competing demands of customer and data protection inform companies’ deployment of apps and app services, and can usher in security best practice at a time when it’s needed most.”
The top security challenges cited were the increased sophistication of attacks (64 per cent) followed by employees underestimating the impact of not following security policy (53 per cent). However, despite over half naming employees as one of the top challenges, a third (32 per cent) admitted a lack of IT security skills or training within a company was challenging.
Operational scale and programmability rise to the top for DevOps
On a global scale, the increase in app services and continued expansion to the cloud is driving organisations to automation and orchestration to scale operations across environments. As a result, over half of respondents now view API-enabled infrastructures and templates as important, up from 31 per cent and 22 per cent last year, respectively. Scalability and OpEx reduction remain the top two drivers for the use of SDN frameworks, and companies are increasingly showing a tendency toward standardisation, with 39 per cent relying on only one framework in 2017, compared to 32 per cent in 2016.
Gadget goes to Hollywood
Gadget visited the Netflix studios last week. In the first of a series, ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK talks to CEO Reed Hastings.
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is no stranger to Africa. He has travelled throughout South Africa, taught maths in Swaziland for two years with the Peace Corps, and visits close family in Maputo. As a result, he is keenly aware of the South African entertainment and connectivity landscape.
In an exclusive interview at the Netflix studios in Hollywood, Los Angeles, last week, he revealed that Netflix had no intentions of challenging MultiChoice’s dominance of live sports broadcasting on the continent.
“Other firms will do sport and news; we are trying to focus on movies and TV shows,” he said. “There are a lot of areas that are video that we are not doing: sports, news, video gaming, user-generated content. We don’t have live sport.
“We’re not replacing MultiChoice at all. Their subscriber growth is steady in South Africa. They serve a need that’s independent of the Internet, via low-price satellite. There is no intention of capturing that audience. If they’re growing, it’s because they serve a need.”
While Reed ruled out any collaboration with MultiChoice on its satellite delivery platform, despite its collaboration with another pay-TV service, Sky TV in the United Kingdom, he did not close the door. He stressed that Netflix saw itself as an Internet-based service, and would pursue the opportunities offered by evolving broadband in Africa.
“If you look in other markets like the USA, how Comcast carries us on set-top boxes with their other services, it could happen with MultiChoice, the same as with all the pay-TV providers.
“We’re really focused on being a service over the Internet and not over satellite. Our service doesn’t work on satellite. Where we work with Sky is on Internet-connected devices. We’re happy to work on Internet-connected devices. We tend to work on smart TVs, but need broadband Internet for that.
“Broadband is getting faster in Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa – we can see the positive trendlines – so it’s more likely we will work with broadband Internet companies.”
Hastings is a firm believer in the idea that one content provider’s success does not depend on pushing another down.
“HBO has grown at the same time as we have, so can see our success doesn’t determine their success. What matters is amazing content with which the world falls in love.”
Click here to read on about Hastings’ views on international expansion, and how the streaming service selects content for its platform.
Take these 5 steps to digital
By MARK WALKER, Associate Vice President for Sub-Saharan Africa at IDC Middle East, Africa and Turkey.
Digital transformation isn’t a buzz word because it sounds nice and looks good on the business CV. It is fundamental to long-term business success. IDC anticipates that 75% of enterprises will be on the path to digital transformation by 2027.
However, digital transformation is not a process that ticks a box and moves to the next item on the agenda – it is defined by the organisation’s shift towards a digitally empowered infrastructure and employee. It is an evolution across system, infrastructure, process, individual and leadership and should follow clear pathways to ensure sustainable success.
The nature of the enterprise has changed completely with the influence of digital, cloud and the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), and success is reliant on strategic change.
There is a lot more ownership and transparency throughout the organisation and there is a responsibility that comes with that – employees want access to information, there has to be speed in knowledge, transactions and engagement. To ensure that the organisation evolves alongside digital and demand, it has to follow five very clear pathways to long-term, achievable success.
The first of these is to evaluate where the enterprise sits right now in terms of its digital journey. This will differ by organisation size and industry, as well as its reliance on technology. A smaller organisation that only needs a basic accounting function or the internet for email will have far different considerations to a small organisation that requires high-end technology to manage hedge funds or drive cloud solutions. The same comparisons apply to the enterprise-level organisation. The mining sector will have a completely different sub-set of technology requirements and infrastructure limitations to the retail or finance sectors.
Ultimately, every organisation, regardless of size or industry, is reliant on technology to grow or deliver customer service, but their digital transformation requirements are different. To ensure that investment into artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, knowledge engines, automation and connectivity are accurately placed within the business and know exactly where the business is going.
The second step is to examine what the business wants to achieve. Again, the goals of the organisation over the long and short term will be entirely sector dependent, but it is essential that it examine what the competitive environment looks like and what influences customer expectations. This understanding will allow for the business to hone its digital requirements accordingly.
The third step is to match expectations to reality. You need to see how you can move your digital transformation strategy forward and what areas require prioritisation, what funding models will support your digital aspirations, and how this tie into what the market wants. Ultimately, every step of the process has to be prioritised to ensure
The fourth step is to look at the operational side of the process. This is as critical as any other aspect of the transformation strategy as it maps budget to skills to infrastructure in such a way as to ensure that any project delivers return on investment. Budget and funding are always top of mind when it comes to digital transformation – these are understandably key issues for the business. How will it benefit from the investment? How will it influence the customer experience? What impact will this have on the ongoing bottom line? These questions tie neatly into the fifth step in the process – the feedback loop.
This is often the forgotten step, but it is the most important. The feedback loop is critical to ensuring that the digital transformation process is achieving the right results, that the right metrics are in place, and that the needle is moving in the right direction. It is within this feedback loop that the organisation can consistently refine the process to ensure that it moves to each successive step with the right metrics in place.
There is also one final element that every organisation should have in place throughout its digital evolution. An element that many overlook – engagement. There must be a real desire to change, from the top of the organisation right down to the bottom, and an understanding of what it means to undertake this change and why it is essential. This is why this will be a key discussion at the 2019 IDC South Africa CIO Summit taking place in April this year. With this in place, the five steps to digital transformation will make sense and deliver the right results.