A century ago the industrial revolution transformed how we manufactured, well, everything. Today, digital transformation is doing the same with how we develop, deploy, and deliver applications.
The siren’s call of digital transformation boils down to “if you build an app, they will come.”
There’s a lot more to digital transformation than the pretty picture of success painted in colorful pixels across the Internet. While executives nestle snug in their beds with visions of prospects and leads filling their heads, the reality is that the integration and processes required to execute successfully on an external digital transformation require a digital foundation upon which to operate. That means the ability to scale operations to handle the influx of data and traffic expected. Customer service (or are they brand ambassadors now?) must be ready to handle higher volumes than ever before – even if you don’t have the go-ahead to hire more headcount to prepare.
That means digital enablement. Automation, orchestration, and digitization of the business processes must be in place before you open the digital doors to your new apps. Unsurprisingly, those operating under digital transformation efforts know this. By a significant margin, respondents to our 2018 State of Application Delivery survey told us IT optimization was the number one benefit expected from digital transformation efforts. That was across every region in the world – with 72% tagging it as number one. Competitive advantage came second with 56% of respondents, and business process optimization running a close third at 49%.
How do they expect to realize those benefits? A combination of cloud, new app architectures, and automation of IT seem to be the golden trifecta. Over half (55%) of respondents indicated they are employing automation and orchestration of IT because of digital transformation. Almost half (49%) are moving to deliver apps from a public cloud, and 47% are changing how they develop those applications. Forty-one (41%) percent are also exploring new app architectures involving containers and microservices as a result.
What’s interesting about the move to deliver apps from public cloud is not the decision itself, but how that decision is made. The majority (56%) choose a cloud environment on an app-by-app basis. Only 22% told us the decision is made by the often-cited line-of-business owner.
Still, the news that the most important factor determining where an application should be deployed is, in fact, the application itself should not be a controversial one. Applications are not islands of functionality, after all. If they were, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Applications have dependencies – on data sources and other applications. They are secured and scaled with application services like web application firewalls and load balancing. Access to their digital payload is protected by firewalls and identity management and a host of security application services. An average of sixteen different application services are used by organizations every day to deliver applications.
One does not so much migrate an application as one migrates an architecture.
That’s why digital transformation inevitably leads to multi-cloud. At the heart of IT’s revolution lies applications that must be delivered faster and with greater scale and efficacy. Where one environment might be ideal to meet those requirements for one application, it might be detrimental to another. As organizations ramp up their use of public cloud in the coming year, we’ll see more operating under multi-cloud conditions – and facing the challenges that come with it.
Download your copy of The State of Application Delivery 2018 report.