The heartbeat of today's app-driven world

F5 Networks Inc

By Martyn Young
Friday, 05 February, 2016

The heartbeat of today's app-driven world

Applications sit at the heart of today’s world. They power businesses, serve customers and drive revenue. A recent study by F5 found that almost half of all Asia–Pacific organisations now use up to 200 applications within their business.

When it comes to managing applications, the span of control is shifting, forcing organisations to think about how applications can be deployed in a manner that is flexible and profitable.

Just about every application utilises some form of an application service to address challenges with performance, security or availability. Ultimately, in order to experience a seamless experience between applications and end users, organisations find themselves having to deploy and manage multiple application services.

Application services comprise a suite of technology or services that enhances availability, security and acceleration for the application. An application service is not the application itself — it is a technology or service for the environment that an application is deployed on, and can include a wide array of functions, from the traditional load-balancing technologies to the richer and advanced application delivery technologies.

Application services act as an intermediary that enables applications to perform the tasks that they simply cannot do or at least cannot do at scale. They communicate in both network and application protocols: the former allows them to be in the data path, while the latter provides them with the capabilities to focus on applications and their data. At a top-line level, application services can be described as highly specialised application logic deployed on high-performance, high-capacity proxy platforms in the critical data path, within the network.

Businesses are increasingly looking to ‘build’ rather than buy off-the-shelf applications. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2020, 75% of application purchases supporting digital business will be built, and not bought. Further to that, organisations will also be looking for customised application services to meet their individualised requirements.

However, most organisations are at different stages of maturity in relation to their overall adoption of applications and application services and, as such, have different priorities when it comes to application delivery. According to the ‘The State of Application Delivery in APAC 2015’ report, amongst organisations using application services in the Asia–Pacific, security services are a top priority, followed by identity and access, and performance of a service.

In addition, the report found that the majority of organisations have already deployed services like SSL VPN, while identity federation, application access control and single sign-on are all earmarked for implementation over the coming year by around a quarter of organisations.

While the complexity and diversity of application services is fast evolving, the success of these services within the enterprise will rely heavily on their ability to ensure the consistent, smooth and secure operation of applications.

Martyn Young is Systems Engineering Director at F5 Networks. Prior to joining the company, he spent more than 10 years in various roles with EMC, and before that with Synergy Plus and Telstra Technologies.

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