The State of Application Delivery 2018: Automation is Everywhere

The Good Book tells us to “ask and ye shall receive.” That was certainly true when I asked for your input for the State of Application Delivery 2018. You responded with alacrity and honesty, and I cannot thank you enough for that. Truly, F5 is blessed to have such a vibrant, collaborative community in DevCentral.

As part of my plea, I promised to provide results. So without further ado, I am keeping my end of that bargain with a view of the survey results specifically focused on NetOps and programmability.

Of the more than 3000 responses we received from around the globe, 36% were network and infrastructure professionals. Another 22% were operations focused. That’s a lot of folks more than likely responsible for many thousands of applications running over thousands of networks.

That’s important, because what folks in the trenches see as strategic doesn’t always match up with the trends touted by pundits and analysts.

To wit, the top five strategic trends for those in NetOps was slightly different than the overall consensus. NetOps felt SDN and IoT would have bigger strategic impacts. That’s no surprise given the significant changes and pressure that will be put on networks and systems given the increasing focus on applications and things as critical business components.

One thing everyone agrees on – across the globe, across industries, and across every role – is the importance of automation.

NetOps was more likely than every role except Cloud/DevOps to tag automation of IT infrastructure as critical (a score of 5 on a scale of 1-5). Still, nearly 3 in 4 (74%) of all respondents deemed automation of IT infrastructure as more important/critical (scores of 4 & 5 out of 5). NetOps wholeheartedly agreed, with 75% saying the same.

More important than perceptions, perhaps, was the finding that NetOps are putting their scripts where their opinions are.

Those NetOps who never use automation in the operation of IT infrastructure are clearly in the minority today. Four in five (80%) are using automation for major production changes; 22% say they always do.

The majority of NetOps are using automation sometimes for major (58%) and minor (59%) changes in production, as well as incident response (52%).

And what are they using? Well, the data says that NetOps uses an average of 1.5 different tools to get ‘er done. Number one on that list is Python (39%), with  Ansible (20%) and Puppet (17%) close behind.

While the majority (67%) use only one toolset, 18% rely on two and 15% use three or more tools including Chef (14%) and Vagrant (4%).

But what about network automation frameworks and solutions? What about Cisco ACI and VMware? How about OpenStack?

NetOps is slightly more likely to use multiple network automation systems, with only 50% settling on a single choice. Nearly half (49%) use two or three, with a mere 1% taking four or more.

Sixty-four (64%) of NetOps are using VMware. More than half (52%) are taking advantage of Cisco ACI. And 23% use OpenStack. All three of these network automation leaders experienced gains in use year over year. That may continue into next year as there remains 16% of NetOps who currently use no network automation systems at all.

If you’re one of the 16% that isn’t using automation, you might wonder why your peers are so eager to embrace it? Turns out that IT is surprisingly aligned with digital transformation efforts. At least the ones on the inside that need to be in place to support the one on the outside.

Reduce operating expenses is the number one driver for the use of automation for NetOps, followed by scaling operations to meet demand at 51%.

This aligns well with self-identified digital transformation impacts, of which employing automation to optimize IT were at the top of the list.

There’s a lot more packed into this year’s State of Application Delivery report. We cover the rise of (multi)cloud, application services, and security in addition to automation and orchestration with respect to NetOps.

I encourage you to check it out and get your own copy, and watch @F5networks for more insights over the coming weeks.

Again, thank you! We couldn’t have done it without you.

Published Jan 16, 2018
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