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.
IoT at starting gate
South Africa is already past the Internet of Things (IoT) hype cycle and well into the mainstream, writes MARK WALKER, associate vice president of Sub-Saharan Africa at International Data Corporation (IDC).
Projects and pilots are already becoming a commercial reality, tying neatly into the 2017 IDC prediction that 2018 would be the year when the local market took IoT mainstream. Over the next 12-18 months, it is anticipated that IoT implementations will continue to rise in both scope and popularity. Already 23% are in full deployment with 39% in the pilot phase. The value of IoT has been systematically proven and yet its reputation remains tenuous – more than 5% of companies are reluctant to put their money where the trend is – thanks to the shifting sands of IoT perception and success rate.
There are several reasons behind why IoT implementations are failing. The biggest is that organisations don’t know where to start. They know that IoT is something they can harness today and that it can be used to shift outdated modalities and operations. They are aware of the benefits and the case studies. What they don’t know is how to apply this knowledge to their own journey so their IoT story isn’t one of overbearing complexity and rising costs.
Another stumbling block is perception. Yes, there is the futuristic potential with the talking fridge and intelligent desk, but this is not where the real value lies. Organisations are overlooking the challenges that can be solved by realistic IoT, the banal and the boring solutions that leverage systems to deliver on business priorities. IoT’s potential sits within its ability to get the best out of assets and production efficiencies, solving problems in automation, security, and environment.
In addition to this, there is a lack of clarity around return on investment, uncertainty around the benefits, a lack of executive leadership, and concerns around security and the complexities of regulation. Because IoT is an emerging technology there remains a limited awareness of the true extent of its value proposition and yet 66% of organisations are confident that this value exists.
This percentage poses both a problem and opportunity. On one hand, it showcases the local shift in thinking towards IoT as a technology worth investing into. On the other hand, many companies are seeing the competition invest and leaping blindly in the wrong direction. Stop. IoT is not the same for every business.
It is essential that every company makes its own case for IoT based on its needs and outcomes. Does agriculture have the same challenges as mining? Does one mining company have the same challenges as another? The answer is no. Organisations that want their IoT investment to succeed must reject the idea that they can pick up where another has left off. IoT must be relevant to the business outcome that it needs to achieve. While some use cases may apply to most industries based on specific circumstances, there are different realities and priorities that will demand a different approach and starting point.
Ask – what is the business problem right now and how can technology be leveraged to resolve it?
In the agriculture space, there is a need to improve crop yields and livestock management, improve farm productivity and implement environmental monitoring. In the construction and mining industry, safety and emergency response are a priority alongside workforce and production management. Education shifts the lens towards improving delivery and quality of education, access to advanced learning methods and reducing the costs of learning. Smart cities want to improve traffic and efficiently deliver public services and healthcare is focusing on wellness, reducing hospital admissions and the security of assets and inventory management.
The technology and solutions selected must speak to these specific challenges.
If there are no insights used to create an IoT solution, it’s the equivalent of having the fastest Ferrari on Rivonia Road in peak traffic. It makes a fantastic noise, but it isn’t going to move any faster than the broken-down sedan in the next lane. Everyone will be impressed with the Ferrari, but the amount of power and the size of the investment mean nothing. It’s in the wrong place.
What differentiates the IoT successes is how a company leverages data to deliver meaningful value-added predictions and actions for personalised efficiencies, convenience, and improved industry processes. To move forward the organisation needs to focus on the business outcomes and not just the technology. They need to localise and adapt by applying context to the problem that’s being solved and explore innovation through partnerships and experimentation.
ERP underpins food tracking
The food traceability market is expected to reach almost $20 billion by 2022 as increased consumer awareness, strict governance requirements, and advances in technology are resulting in growing standardisation of the segment, says STUART SCANLON, managing director of epic ERP
Just like any data-driven environment, one of the biggest enablers of this is integrated enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions.
As the name suggests, traceability is the ability to track something through all stages of production, processing, and distribution. When it comes to the food industry, traceability must also enable stakeholders to identify the source of all food inputs that can include anything from raw materials, additives, ingredients, and packaging.
Considering the wealth of data that all these facets generate, it is hardly surprising that systems and processes need to be put in place to manage, analyse, and provide actionable insights. With traceability enabling corrective measures to be taken (think product recalls), having an efficient system is often the difference between life or death when it comes to public health risks.
Sceptics argue that traceability simply requires an extensive data warehouse to be done correctly, the reality is quite different. Yes, there are standard data records to be managed, but the real value lies in how all these components are tied together.
ERP provides the digital glue to enable this. With each stakeholder audience requiring different aspects of traceability (and compliance), it is essential for the producer, distributor, and every other organisation in the supply chain, to manage this effectively in a standardised manner.
With so many different companies involved in the food cycle, many using their own, proprietary systems, just consider the complexity of trying to manage traceability. Organisations must not only contend with local challenges, but global ones as well as the import and export of food are big business drivers.
So, even though traceability is vital to keep track of everything in this complex cycle, it is also imperative to monitor the ingredients and factories where items are produced. Having expansive solutions that must track the entire process from ‘cradle to grave’ is an imperative. Not only is this vital from a safety perspective, but from cost and reputational management aspects as well. Just think of the recent listeriosis issue in South Africa and the impact it has had on all parties in that supply chain.
Thanks to the increasing digital transformation efforts by companies in the food industry, traceability becomes a more effective process. It is no longer a case of using on-premise solutions that can be compromised but having hosted ones that provide more effective fail-safes.
In a market segment that requires strict compliance and regulatory requirements to be met, cloud-based solutions can provide everyone in the supply chain with a more secure (and tamper-resistant) solution than many of the legacy approaches of old.
This is not to say ERP requires the one or the other. Instead, there needs to be a transition provided between the two scenarios that empowers those in the food supply chain to maximise the insights (and benefits) derived from traceability.
Now, more than ever, traceability is a business priority. Having the correct foundation through effective ERP is essential if a business can manage its growth and meet legislative requirements into the future.