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It's no surprise that Europe, Middle-East and Asia would be more concerned about EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) than other governments, but there was little agreement among almost 300 government IT professionals surveyed across the globe on the strategic impact of various trends and technologies in the public sector, according to F5 Networks' State of Application Delivery report.
However, the one technology all governments seem to agree will have a strategic impact is cloud.
Globally, public sector respondents are embracing multi-cloud deployments. This strategy is enabling government organizations to select the cloud platform that best meets the requirements of a specific application. However, this also increases the challenges many government organizations face in managing operations and security across multiple clouds as they transform their application portfolio.
"Government respondents made it clear they are heavily focused on building the foundation necessary for application-driven digital transformation," said Peter Kersten, Regional VP, Federal Sales at F5. "Around the world, government organizations are shifting towards digital government, and with that we see government organizations embracing the cloud, adopting automation and orchestration, and adjusting security strategies."
Survey respondents' roles ranged from infrastructure, IT security, application development, and DevOps to the executive suite. Key takeaways include:
Digital transformation inspires new architectures and IT optimization initiatives
Optimizing IT infrastructure and processes remain the most desired benefits driving digital transformation projects, according to 79 percent of respondents, while 42 percent said digital transformation is encouraging the delivery of applications from the cloud.
Furthermore, 47 percent stated that it is changing how they develop applications, and one-third reported exploring new application architectures such as containers and microservices.
Multi-cloud enables the "best cloud for the app" strategy
Governments in all regions agree cloud will have a strategic role, even if their specific focus is split between public and private cloud. Most organizations pursue a best-of-breed strategy for each application deployment, leading to multi-cloud architectures.
While cloud adoption by government is lower (34 percent of government respondents reported over 25 percent of applications in the cloud compared to 45 percent of all respondents with over 25 percent of applications in the cloud), nearly eight in ten respondents reported using multiple clouds (79 percent), with 57 percent saying cloud decisions are made on a per application basis.
Application services are the gateways to the future
Planned services deployments show government organizations embracing security and application engagement. Security is still the most important application service, but application engagement emerged as a critical need this year as IT organizations prepare for the digital economy.
The top five services government organizations plan to deploy in the next 12 months are global server load balancing (GSLB), identity federation, API gateway, single sign-on, and content delivery network (CDN).
Security confidence wanes as public cloud adoption waxes
Digital transformation drives government organizations to deliver more apps from the cloud, yet organizational confidence to withstand an attack has taken a hit due to lack of experience and expertise in securing applications deployed in public clouds. In fact, 33 percent said protecting applications is a top security challenge. When we asked organizations to let us know what technologies they use to protect applications, 65 percent reported they are using Web Application Firewalls (WAFs).
Automation and orchestration: Full steam ahead
Nearly three in four (73 percent) respondents declare the use of automation in the operation of IT infrastructure to be "somewhat" or "very" important. The majority (62 percent) are using automation to realize leaner IT with the goal of reducing OpEx, while just under half (43 percent) are looking to scale to meet demand.