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Half of A/NZ tech leaders would turn off cybersecurity to boost performance

By Shannon Williams
Wed 13 Apr 2022

More than 50% of A/NZ tech leaders would turn off cybersecurity to boost performance, a new report has revealed.
 
F5 has released the findings of its 2022 State of Application Strategy Report. Now in its eighth iteration, this year's report shows the challenges Australian and New Zealand organisations face as they transform IT infrastructures to deliver and secure digital services now inseparable from peoples daily lives, such as performing job functions or consulting a doctor as telehealth becomes permanent.

With highly distributed architectures and a broader threat landscape resulting from an ongoing digitisation of previously physical experiences, organisations are turning to a variety of solutions to help manage complexity and address widening IT skills gaps, a key issue as Australia and New Zealand strive to train or retrain 7.5 million workers by 2025. However, survey results indicate pitfalls ahead that, if ignored, will inhibit progress toward making business more responsive and agile and the regions position as a digital leader. 

"Organisations across A/NZ are facing the challenges of delivering distributed modern digital services given the dramatic uptake in digital transformation efforts in the last two years. IT and business objectives are converging to elevate technology from a supporting role to a driving role," says Jason Baden, regional vice president, Australia and New Zealand for F5 Networks. 

"Over the last few years, we have seen a dramatic acceleration of organisations moving into the cloud single, multi-cloud, and hybrid cloud," he says. 

"As organisations portfolios grow larger and more distributed, they require consistent security, end-to-end visibility, and greater automation in app deployments to battle increasing complexity, streamline operations, and respond to threats while adding value for customers."

A/NZ respondents rank determining cost efficiency across different environments as the top challenge for those deploying applications in multiple clouds, followed closely by consistent security. To help, 90 per cent of organisations across all industries are planning to implement AI to surface valuable insights. Yet, effective AI requires better data transparency, integration, and governance than is currently available. 

Similarly, the survey identifies site reliability engineering (SRE) as a key piece of the puzzle, with 90 per cent of A/NZ respondents pursuing SRE approaches for their applications and systems, but enterprise architecture must evolve in parallel to support distributed, application-centric models and further advance organisations digital transformation efforts. 

Top findings include:  

Australians and New Zealand excited for developments in WAAP and 5G
Respondents in Australia and New Zealand rate Web Application and API Protection (WAAP) and 5G as the two most exciting development trends over the next few years. More than 50% of respondents ranked WAAP as the front-runner. 
As applications and APIs continue to proliferate along with the threats to each identity-based security is quickly becoming as important as more traditional approaches to threat defences, while the continuing push for greater performance makes 5G a close number two. 

The value of customer experience 
When asked to rank the primary business outcomes they want to achieve using edge computing, A/NZ respondents listed customer experience (CX) as number one. Edge deployments are gaining popularity and can improve application performance and the customer experience, but can also increase the efficiency of security and delivery technologies that support applications.

Complexity is becoming untenable 
With most A/NZ respondents using cloud-based as-a-service offerings and 97% planning moves to the edge, associated challenges range from overlapping security policies and fragmented data to the deployment of point solutions that ultimately add complexity, increase fragility, or inhibit performance. Broader distribution throughout the infrastructure means app security and delivery services are no longer tethered to the deployment model or location of the applications they serve, which allows businesses more flexibility but impacts consistency and can degrade the user experience. 

Security is evolving to risk management on a global scale 
Even as complexity has increased the number of potential failure points, performance remains paramount, with over half (52%) of A/NZ respondents admitting that, given a choice, they'd turn off security measures to improve performance. Managing a spectrum of risks with real-world objectives demonstrates businesses are taking a modified approach to risk management, contributing to identity-based security surpassing traditional app security and delivery technologies in terms of prevalence. 

Repatriation is on the rise 
Today's organisations manage everything from a growing collection of container-native and mobile applications to legacy monoliths that are fundamental to business operations. Significantly, the vast majority of A/NZ organisations (85%) are currently repatriating applications - moving them back to an on-premises data centre environment from the cloud - or planning to in the next 12 months. This is higher than the global average (67%). 
 
Taken together, these results indicate that A/NZ IT decision makers are still coming to grips with limitations tied to modernisation, business imperatives, and deployment methods as they reap the benefits of digital transformation. Organisations face a continuous balancing act between controls, costs, customer and employee experiences, and an extended set of application and API protections, resulting in heightened interest in sophisticated behavioural analysis and AI-based solutions that can better assess context to deliver the security, performance, and insights required for adaptive applications. 

To satisfy growing demand in Australia and New Zealand, F5 expanded its global footprint in 2019 by deploying a regional point of presence (PoP) in Sydney, and over the past several years, F5 has transformed its business and expanded its software and cloud offerings to deliver a broad portfolio of solutions to help customers address complexity and risk.

F5's 2022 State of Application Strategy Report represents nearly 1,500 IT decision-makers worldwide, including Australia and New Zealand, from a breadth of industries, organisation sizes, and professional roles. The survey focused on respondents priorities, challenges, and expectations to form a compelling perspective of how organisations are evolving application strategies to better serve customers current and anticipated needs. 

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