Today, application experience practically is the brand. More and more, consumer loyalty is inspired by a company’s app: its speed, features, capabilities, and ease of use. And that’s true in everything from healthcare and retail to government and education — and both B2B and B2C.
This demand for agility, availability, and simplicity is driving an acceleration towards cloud native. But as more business value is placed on apps, it creates new questions for CIOs. Where will the applications live? What about the app’s data? And what legal, security, and business complications arise as the footprint of these apps is spread across a spectrum of private and public clouds and services, data centers, edge locations, and even mobile end points.
As companies transition to a multicloud world, Cisco can help enable and empower customers to succeed with their digital agendas with a strategic approach from a trusted, innovative, and cloud-agnostic position.
Vijoy Pandey, VP, Emerging Technologies and Incubations, shared his insights on how CIOs can navigate a complex cloud-based and app-fueled world:
Why move to the cloud?
Increasingly more transactions are taking place through modern distributed cloud-native applications spanning every industry. Users are looking for optimized experiences from their apps—primarily, how fast does the application execute, how quickly new features can go to market, and whether those features will be available all the time, and scale with their business’ needs.
Cloud native is a software approach in which apps are built in a composable, scalable manner, typically using microservices or serverless technologies. It allows for faster feature updates and upgrades, while minimizing failures. Cloud native implies thinner components building up applications, scaling them across the internet,and allowing developers to pick and choose the APIs that make their job most effective. This leads to a simpler operating model.
“App agility also implies quick reaction to and remediation of problems,” says Pandey, “What if the network or a part of the app or service goes down somewhere? And if so, how quickly can developers and site reliability engineers (SREs) react to these to these failures? Cloud native architectures help with troubleshooting, disaster recovery, scale, and availability.”
But it’s not all rainbows with cloud native approaches. CIOs still need to consider all of the potential problems that occur when we pull apart applications. App components are being sprinkled across on-prem data centers, public and private cloud, mobile devices, and the edge. This is done for performance and agility reasons, but governance over different portions of data can also play a role. In addition, the cloud is expensive and once data is placed there, it can be very difficult to move it around. Governmental requirements such as GDPR are also a key factor, and businesses often want country data to reside specifically within that country.
“What's happening from the networking perspective is that these apps are now being stretched and thrown across the Internet,” says Pandey, “The open Internet is the run-time for these apps and the connectivity and security problems are actually getting worse because you are trying to connect APIs served from across data centers, edge locations, SaaS providers, mobile software and the public cloud stacks. Additionally, full-stack observability becomes key, as potential problems can occur across any layer of the stack — physical, virtual, cloud native, or API.”
This is where Cisco comes in
Businesses need cloud native architectures across apps, infra and operating models for driving agility and a better application experience, but they increasingly also need a partner like Cisco to help create, connect, secure and provide observability for their apps transparently across all layers.
Cisco’s application-first infrastructure vision is all about helping customers accelerate their journey towards modern agile, scalable applications. As more companies are shifting the way they’re delivering apps towards more distributed architectures, Cisco can help customers make that transition with three key attributes in mind: innovation, choice, and trust.
Cisco is solving the connectivity and security challenges of an application-first multi-cloud world in a holistic manner. The company already solves for the complexities of connecting and securing users, devices, data centers, SaaS and public cloud properties, working with global enterprises, governments, and SMB organizations. Now, with Application-first Infrastructures, Cisco will be solving for the complexities of connecting and securing applications and APIs.
Through Application Networking, Cisco would connect all API and software endpoints, wherever they happen to be and in whatever form – as modern cloud-native, or legacy monolithic applications and systems. This App Network is built for the application developer. follows the principles of simplified connectivity, provides the same consumption and operating models that are used in application development, and bridges the velocity gap between app developers and infrastructure engineers.
With such distributed composable apps, what was long known as perimeter security, or securing the barriers around the infrastructure, barely exists today. So, older security strategies no longer work.
“With apps being built from pick-and-choose APIs, there is no notion of a geographical or sheet metal perimeter. It shrinks down to your API, and to your data object, the entities that you are trying to access,” says Pandey. “You need to secure API to API communications, and API to data object communications.” That is the thesis behind Application Security.
But you cannot stop there. “You need to secure APIs and data objects along with the networking and compute layers. Why? Because software has bugs, there are upgrades, and there are humans and software that configure these systems and roll out upgrades. So even though you might secure one layer, what if there is a security problem at a lower layer? There needs to be defense in depth. At Cisco, we are trying to look at this problem holistically, top to bottom, from the API and app, and all the way down the infrastructure stack.”
This is also where the company’s approach to full-stack observability becomes critically important. Cisco AppDynamics provides the visibility and insightsdeep into applications, and Cisco ThousandEyes’ app experience monitoring provides deep end-to-end network visibilityacross any network service provider, while Cisco Intersight provides telemetry and insights across compute layers, starting with physical and all the way to the cloud native software stack.
Choice and Trust
Cisco is a cloud-neutral company, so no single cloud vendor it works with has precedent over another. Because of this, Cisco ensures that all customers’ data stays with them, protected across the full stack. Cisco is also integrating its comprehensive monitoring into one observability stack that organizations can slice and dice in their own preferred way, providing them the choice of how to operate.
“I believe Cisco has, first and foremost, gained the complete trust of its customers. We protect our customers’ data, and we provide our customers the dials to control where it resides,” says Pandey, “And then we offer choice. We will build the software stack for you to consume in a way that integrates smoothly with your existing operating environment, that solves your brownfield needs. Customers can decide where their data needs to sit driven by their needs for insight latency, cost, features and velocity, and they can have the compliance and governance controls on that data as they would like to define it. And all of this is done with the underlying principles of security, transparency and visibility across all layers. That's powerful.”
There are plenty of challenges CIOs face when they start to think about migrating to the cloud—agility, security, and delivering the best application experiences. Cisco’s application-first infrastructure vision is all about solving these challenges and working with customers to help them succeed in their cloud adoption. Reimagining applications with Cisco help ensure that these apps are both securely deployed and optimized for an amazing experience.