Companies in Europe, Middle East and Africa expect IT optimisation and competitive advantage to be the main benefits of digital transformation, according to a new report from F5 Networks, the 2018 State of Application Delivery (SOAD) report.
Now in its fourth year, the report shows how the growing influence of multi-cloud deployments are helping EMEA organisations better optimise apps, automate and embrace digital transformation. It also highlights the most up-to-date operational and security challenges associated with this shift.
“More than ever before, EMEA is heavily focused on building the foundation necessary for application-driven digital transformation. As a result, many are moving toward multi-cloud environments that will enable them to pioneer platforms for competitive differentiation and innovation in the digital economy,” said Martin Walshaw, senior systems engineer at F5.
Digital transformation inspires new architectures and IT optimisation initiatives
According to SOAD 2018, IT optimisation is the number one benefit expected from digital transformation efforts in EMEA (69 percent of respondents). Competitive advantage came second, with 59 percent, and business process optimisation was a close third, with 46 percent.
Realising these benefits entail a combination of cloud, new app architectures, and IT automation.
Over half (57 percent) of respondents indicated they are employing automation and orchestration of IT because of digital transformation. Almost half (48 percent) are moving to deliver apps from a public cloud, and 48 percent are changing how they develop those applications. Forty-three percent said digital transformation has prompted the exploration of new app architectures involving containers and micro-services.
The multi-cloud challenge
According to SOAD 2018, 54 percent of respondents determine which cloud is best for each application on a case-by-case basis. This is fuelling an uptick in multi-cloud environments, with 75 percent of respondents claiming to use multiple cloud providers.
As ever, security remains a key concern in the cloud. In EMEA, applying consistent security policies across all company applications was deemed to be the “most challenging or frustrating” aspect of managing multi-cloud environments (42 percent). Thirty-nine percent believe the biggest challenge is protecting applications from existing and emerging threats. SOAD 2018 concludes that this has led to an increase in organisations deploying Web Application Firewalls (WAFs), with 61 percent now using the technology to protect their applications.
“As applications drive business, organisations make IT decisions based on the needs of the app, leading many to leverage multiple cloud platforms,” explained Walshaw.
“While multi-cloud environments offer many benefits in terms of speed, scale and flexibility, challenges include providing consistent security across clouds, protecting apps from a variety of threats, and gaining visibility into application health.”
Application services are the gateways to the future
On average, SOAD reported that organisations in EMEA leverage 15 different application services to keep their apps fast, safe and available.
Security is still regarded as the most important application service in EMEA (44 percent, compared to 39 percent globally). Interestingly, as IT organisations prepare for the digital economy, gateway services are starting to emerge as a ‘must-have’. The top gateway services in EMEA relate to the Internet of Things (34 percent), SDN (32 percent), API (32 percent) and HTTP/2 (28 percent).
Key app service security challenges include the increasing sophistication of attacks (42 percent), employees underestimating the impact of not following security policies (41 percent), the increasing complexity of security solutions (29 percent), mobile app security (35 percent) and lack of IT security skills (28 percent).
“By embracing modern application architectures, cloud models and a wide diversity of devices, EMEA organisations are striving to capitalise on the digital economy,” said Walshaw.
“The deployment plans for gateways clearly show that respondents are putting in place the technologies and tools they need to confidently move forward into an increasingly digital future.”
Automation and orchestration: Full steam ahead
Across EMEA, IT departments are embracing programmability and standardisation within their automation and orchestration environments. Three in four (75 percent) of respondents declare the use of automation in the operation of IT infrastructure to be “somewhat” or “very” important. The majority (72 percent) are using automation to realise leaner IT with the goal of reducing OpEx, while nearly half (48 percent) are looking to scale to meet demand.
“With pressure from Dev and Ops mounting, thanks to increasing use of containers and adoption of cloud, traditional IT is embracing programmability to enable the automation and orchestration required to succeed,” Walshaw added.
“However, organisations seeking to optimise IT through automation and orchestration need to standardise before speeding ahead.”