Enterprise cloud performs best with DevOps, software-defined networks

A survey of F5 customers confirms everything is connected.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

Hybrid cloud is in the plans of nine out of ten organizations, and DevOps and software-defined networking (SDN) are considered the best supporting approaches to making cloud services succeed.

Photo: HubSpot

This is one of the takeaways from a recent survey of 3.002 IT executives and managers, conducted among the customer base of F5 Networks, Inc. The study's authors, Lori MacVittie and Cindy Borovick, said there are many trends impacting application delivery, but everything is related.

"Everything actually touches everything else," said MacVittie in a webcast accompanying the survey results. "Mobile applications are driving cloud. Which is also driving DevOps. Which is also driving the need for more security... It's all interelated." Accordingly, "hybrid cloud being the new normal, were seeing an big upswing in services that support that. Global service load balancing, identify federation. DNS -- things that are going to really impact that and help manage that better."

The survey explored the connection between cloud implementations and DevOps, and found some interesting relationships. "Although cloud chatter about DevOps often focuses on public cloud, our survey respondents seem to associate DevOps more with private cloud," MacVittie and Borovick state. "Of the 43 percent of participants who see private cloud as strategically significant, 23 percent also believe DevOps is significant, and almost twice as many (44 percent) believe the same about software-defined networking [SDN]. This seems to indicate that as organizations develop and deploy applications in their private clouds, they believe DevOps practices together with SDN implementations will give them the agile IT environments they need to meet their business requirements."

The survey also found that SDN and DevOps are both "are key to IT's ability to improve operational efficiency," MacVittie and Borovick state. Overall, 37 percent said that SDN will be "strategically important" to their organizations in the next two to five years. However, only three percent have SDN in place at this time. SDN adoption may take time, since it involves major disruptions of existing systems.

When it comes to tools, automation and orchestration are seen as essential to DevOps and SDN. "Automation tools and frameworks rely on programmability features such as application programming interfaces (APIs) and templates that enable software-defined provisioning and configuration across application and network infrastructures," the report states. "It was no surprise then that respondents rated as important to highly important all facets of programmability that enable automation: APIs (58 percent), templates (49 percent), and data path programmability (67 percent)."

Cloud computing plans are taking many forms, the survey finds. One out of five respondents said they plan to migrate over half of their applications to the cloud while keeping the remainder on premises. In total, 87 percent indicated they planned to move to hybrid cloud environments.

Overall, secure cloud was top of mind for executives and managers in the survey. When asked which services they anticipate implementing over the coming year, 26 percent said they plan this year to deploy DNSSEC. The same number cited identify federation services, which lets IT maintain control of users' credentials when they access cloud-based applications. Nearly one quarter of respondents also plan to deploy virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), single signon, and global server load balancing solutions. The nature of these services points to organizations moving toward a world of hybrid cloud or "multi cloud"--any combination of on-premises and cloud deployment models across one or more cloud architectures and providers.

Hybrid cloud is not without its challenges. Twenty-eight percent said they don't have the analytics to understand when it's most cost effective to deploy applications in the cloud versus the data center. Slightly more (29 percent) said they haven't found a comprehensive identity and access management (IAM) solution. "This challenge is especially important to solve because IAM solutions are essential to supporting a mobile workforce, the growing number of mobile applications, and the increasing use of cloud-based and SaaS applications," the report stated.

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