Business at the speed of apps: Strategic tips for modernisation

CIOs’ timely response to market dynamics essential to keeping businesses agile and competitive

Sponsored In today’s connected digital economy, every company is a technology company and applications are at the heart of business innovation and transformation. No business strategy is complete without a modern application strategy. For many organizations, the two may be nearly synonymous.

As technologies accelerate the pace at which businesses gather and analyse information, make decisions, and innovate, CIOs are under mounting pressure to ensure that the enterprise they support does not get left behind. From a competitive point of view, delivering the digital experiences that customers and stakeholders expect is a major key to success.

The need to support millions of fast-moving customers worldwide and agile internal processes for thousands of employees led financial services corporation ING Bank to boost deployment agility and high performance for its internet banking and mobile applications. Strikingly, neither deployment downtime nor complex configuration regimes were required when the company installed NGINX solutions to perform high-speed authentication and reverse proxy.

The urgent call to modernise is underscored by how software has changed the world in remarkable ways amid the fourth industrial revolution. For example, consider that the control system for an average car today comprises approximately 100 million lines of code. And modern app development-to-testing cycles have been shortened from months to weeks, or even days and hours, to keep up with user and competitive demands. Customers are de-manding ‘Google-like’ response times. And a poor app experience can be the difference between winning or losing a customer.

Meanwhile, global spending on enterprise software is expected to hit $557 billion in 2022, fuelled by cloud-based software deployments, according to Gartner Inc. This is the age of the application capital on which enterprises worldwide continually innovate, transform, and sharpen their competitive edge.

Yet, in many larger enterprises, CIOs struggle to keep track of the hundreds, if not thousands, of applications that the IT organization runs, maintains, and protects. It is not uncommon for CIOs to be unsure of the total number of apps that have been deployed. App diversity continues to grow – adding new capabilities and increasing productivity while also adding complexity to the toolchain in some scenarios.

With significant investments already made in legacy mission-critical applications, modernisation offers a sensible way to take advantage of newer platforms, tools, architectures, libraries, and frameworks without the daunting cost and productivity loss of starting over.

Balancing agility and security

A robust application modernisation strategy yields software-driven business agility via im-proved speed, frequency, and reliability of new feature delivery; the easy consumption of existing application functionality by other services via APIs; and the scalability and performance that moving an application from on-premises to cloud typically offers.

Most companies begin with modernising some customer-facing applications, usually as a result of a new business initiative or competitive demand, and build from there. Software teams then optimize these applications for distributed computing paradigms, such as multi-cloud and hybrid cloud, rather than rebuild them from scratch.

Increasing multi-cloud and hybrid-cloud adoption has driven the rise of containerised apps, which are more portable across environments. This trend dovetails with a shift from monolithic legacy applications toward microservices and DevOps as organisations aim to speed up application development and be more responsive to market demands.

The simple design of microservices, for instance, allows independent teams of developers to work in parallel on loosely coupled pieces while collaborating and aligning with one an-other on a common product vision and focus that fulfil business requirements. Individual application features are released as soon as they are ready.

On the other hand, the cost and complexity of application modernisation, especially where applications are so tightly coupled to existing systems and infrastructure, may obstruct the path to improved customer experience and ROI.

Another critical challenge lies in implementing and maintaining an equal focus on agility and security at each stage of the application development process.

Has your company’s C-suite spearheaded the required cultural change while pursuing agility in organizational processes? For example, culture is a core concept in DevSecOps where every team member and stakeholder of every link in the entire software development lifecycle embraces a security-first mindset.

This necessitates breaking silos of development, operations and maintenance, security, and other key functions. All teams must closely collaborate and coordinate to assume collective responsibility for security issues. More importantly, this approach creates a conducive and secure environment for sustainable digital transformation and innovation, maintaining agility through the whole lifecycle.

The effort to empower teams of developers, security professionals, and key stakeholders also entails creating a framework that unifies the platforms required by today’s digital business. Adding and upgrading tools or solutions to leverage on microservices and cloud architectures also creates a corresponding explosion in complexity due to tool sprawl. Often, multiple solutions that deliver the same outcome are inadvertently deployed.

CIOs have to boldly transform how teams deliver apps. Tools have to be levelled up with new app delivery, app server, and API management solutions to bridge the divide between DevOps and traditional infrastructure roles like NetOps and SecOps, accelerate DevOps investments, and expand the use of multi-cloud, containers, and microservices.

Simplifying the new normal

Before embarking on application modernisation to deliver business value, a CIO must first clarify the scope and priorities underpinning a holistic transformation. Plan for complexity by building up required visibility to manage the applications. Rethink the role of IT, embrace agile approaches, and harness next-generation capabilities to improve the way applications are built, updated, and delivered.

For example, consistent application threat visibility and analytics across multiple application architectures and infrastructures enable security and development teams to monitor securi-ty compliance and assess changes to the threat landscape as new app versions are re-leased. In the same vein, NGINX has introduced products that consolidate multiple discrete tools into a single, programmable software platform to reduce tool sprawl and complexity.

These NGINX products focus on four foundational app needs – performance, resilience, security and scale – to drive meaningful collaboration between DevOps, NetOps, and SecOps teams throughout the application lifecycle.

Singapore-based ticketing agency SISTIC accelerated app deployment and simplified app lifecycle management with a dedicated private cloud that hosts containerised micro-services-based apps and integrates easily into DevOps workflows. The self-service, API-driven platform enables SISTIC to run, produce, and deploy new products and services in a week, rather than months, without compromising application security, performance, and resilience.

NGINX technology continues to grow beyond its roots of the world’s most popular web server, reverse proxy, or load balancer capabilities to help enterprises support complex, distributed microservices and deliver digital experiences as compelling as today’s popular consumer apps. NGINX is well positioned to accelerate your company’s modernisation efforts while simplifying complexity in the new normal of business at the speed of apps.

Sponsored by NGINX (part of F5)

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021