For the last three years, F5 Networks has surveyed its users and presented the “State of Application Delivery” report. This year’s report is already a couple of weeks old, and I’ve had the opportunity to read through it. There is good information in there for “NetOps” people—those who are focused on the network but want DevOps-style management. The report discusses the trends and what its customers—which lean to the larger, more established organizations—are doing.
DISCLOSURE: I’m a former F5 employee, and overall, I loved the company. Its upper management has managed to navigate bad times and thrive in good times, and the direction of the company was generally excellent while I was there. My reasons for leaving had nothing to do with top-level management or product. In short, I’m a fan of F5. Also, my wife is still an employee of the company and—worse than that—had a hand in creating both the survey and the resulting document. And Lori sometimes also writes for DevOps.com. Thus, any criticisms I offer here I will have to be willing to defend on social media, at editorial meetings and at the dinner table.
With all that said, since readers can download the report and form their own opinions, I’m comfortable writing about this report. And I’ll even risk doing battle over the steak fries for my loyal readers.
F5 asked nearly 2,200 users of its gear from a variety of industries a series of questions regarding how they use application services—those things such as load balancing, web application firewalls or DDoS protection that exist for an application but aren’t part of it. Included also were DevOps questions and automation questions outside the realm of DevOps.
While much of the report is of general interest for any IT practitioner, some of it is specifically of interest to DevOps practitioners. So, with the exception of a few sweeping statements, I’ll restrict myself to the DevOps-relevant portions of the report.
Insider side note: Lori has mentioned F5 has a metric ton of data it was unable to squeeze into this report, and she would be talking about off-and-on for a while at her F5 blog. If this topic interests you, it might be worthwhile to follow her.
The first thing to visit is the overall list of takeaways. The report offers four “Key Findings” and, interestingly enough, three of them are relevant to DevOps. When you dig into the fourth (security-related) key finding, you discover that it, too, is at least tangentially related to DevOps.
While I don’t want to give away the entire report, I will mention the three items directly related to DevOps:
- Digital Economy drives application services adoption.
- Cloud is growing and skills are needed.
- Cost savings are the primary driver for DevOps in their survey base.
An increase in application services that can be automated kind of strongly implies DevOps, while cloud and DevOps go hand in hand, and the last point explicitly is DevOps.
The report is packed with information about what F5’s customers are doing, what’s important to them moving into 2017 and what they plan to implement soon. Overall, it is a great read, and might bolster your appeals for executive backing or increased funding.
There are some oddities in the report, though. I’m not a fan of the editing; some sentences seem clunky (using the same word twice in a sentence with different assumed context, for example); and one list of percentages is for some reason organized least to greatest, while all others are organized greatest to least.
While editing errors are distracting, the biggest issue I had with the report was the inclusion of Python as a “framework” (along with VMware, OpenStack, Puppet, Chef …). The assumption is made in the accompanying text that this indicates the level of homegrown automation, but since there are many ways to implement homegrown automation, this is at best a low point indicator of that. Overall, it feels out of place in the list:
But honestly, there is enough other information about trends and number of these “frameworks” in use per org packed into this section that I’m willing to view inclusion of a language as a simple oversight that can be explained away because lots of organizations are using python for automation (I have, at more than one organization).
The report also talks about the average application having double digits of application services deployed for it. This seems high to me, but it is data from a survey of F5’s customers, and if you’ve already paid for this bundle of services, perhaps you are more likely to make use of as many as possible. What this points to, for me, is an automation of the overall application environment. Considering the commentary F5 received in response to skills questions, it makes sense that automating solutions that can easily be automated would be an easy choice for their respondents.
Note that in the graphic above, the company did not restrict users to “What frameworks are you using for network configuration?” It might be a reasonable assumption to think it did, as F5 is primarily a networking company (don’t tell the execs I said that—they seem to be repositioning as an application services company these days), but I asked, and the company put no limits on responses. That shows uptake of Puppet among its customers to be far smaller than I would have expected, personally, considering the core of its customer base should be Puppet’s sweet spot—traditional enterprises in a variety of industries.
The weighting of respondents across roles might have some play in how these are ranked, though. There is a preponderance of networking and management types in the response list, with fewer security, dev, architecture and DevOps types. This could skew results, even if the organization list is relatively balanced across industries.
Overall, take a look. It’s solid information, with some interpretation available and more commentary on verticals and use cases. It’s definitely a document worth having on hand when explaining the value of what you’re doing, or attempting to expand what you’re doing.