IT Cause And Effect: Applications Are Money

Everyone (and his brother) has advice about what CIOs should focus on in the coming months. But it all boils down to the need for speed.

Lori MacVittie, Principal Technical Evangelist, f5

August 13, 2013

3 Min Read

Fall's coming, and you know what that means: Top 10 lists of technologies to watch, budget predictions and sundry prognostications for 2014 will soon abound. But CIOs need only peek over the wall at their application development teams to know what will impact their network architectures and budgetary decisions.

Here's what you'll see in a nutshell: Your dev teams are moving fast; your network admins, not so much. That's a problem that will hit the business' bottom line, if it hasn't already.

Let's break it down. Upon peeking over that wall (we suggest you don protective gear first) CIOs will likely find a well-established agile development environment. A recent survey of 248 development and business technology professionals at companies with 100 or more employees that use source-code management tools showed that 70% are at least partially -- if not fully -- leveraging agile methodologies.

Why is that important? Because all roads to production start in development, and the frequency and manner in which developers release code impacts every inch of the path from "new project" to "revenue generator." Consider the recent interest in all things devops. The need to automate application deployments largely grew from a sudden increase in the frequency of new code releases by development teams.

Operations, overwhelmed, needed to apply agile methodologies to their processes just to keep up.

Some 2012 ESG research on the impact of network technology on application releases drives the point home. On average in one year, 37% of organizations release six to 25 net new applications, with 46% introducing 11 to 50 upgrades. Continuous deployment is clearly a must for operations, and successful continuous deployment efforts employ devops.

Network operations teams, however, have yet to fully embrace agile methodologies designed, in part, to alleviate pressure caused by the speed at which developers and devops push applications to customers and employees.

It was inevitable, then, that a technology would emerge to bridge the gap between agile operations and fixed, static networks. Software-defined networking appears to be the ascendant tech that will bring a more agile-complementary approach to deploying the network services necessary to support new and upgraded applications. But the impact from development decisions doesn't stop with methodology. Architectural choices relating to rolling out applications -- including the use of cloud computing -- will also influence operations and network services. Micro-service architectures and the growing dominance of APIs, for example, are revolutionizing the way applications are packaged and pushed into production. Both change the service delivery mechanisms required to scale and secure applications, and thus alter the way in which the network must deliver services. Economies of scale and flexibility become much more important as the network supports more -- and more versions of -- applications and APIs and client devices.

New application architectures will inevitably drive new network architectures and new models of network services. It's just not possible for traditional service delivery methods to keep up while also scaling economically across the growing landscape of application services.

These changes -- from devops to SDN, from gleeful adoption of open source to new service delivery models -- are all driven by the same, mostly overlooked, group within IT: app dev.

If CIOs want to know what technologies they should evaluate or invest in (or both), they need only understand how app dev is architecting and ultimately deploying applications. Breaking down that wall will provide CIOs with the insight they need to proactively seek out the right methodologies for devops and netops. That's the only way to support the applications that ultimately drive the business' bottom line.

About the Author(s)

Lori MacVittie

Principal Technical Evangelist, f5

Lori MacVittie is the principal technical evangelist for cloud computing, cloud and application security, and application delivery and is responsible for education and evangelism across F5's entire product suite. MacVittie has extensive development and technical architecture experience in both high-tech and enterprise organizations. She holds a B.S. in Information and Computing Science from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University. She also serves on the Board of Regents for the DevOps Institute and CloudNOW, and has been named one of the top influential women in DevOps. 

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