As more companies accelerate their digital transformations, many are turning to automation and shifting the responsibility for app services onto IT teams, according to F5’s 2020 State of Application Services Report

According to F5, there are four key areas being automated: app infrastructure, app services, network, and security. Thirty-seven percent of respondents claimed that they are automating network operations, 40% are automating security, 40% are automating app infrastructure, and 40% are automating app services. 

F5 believes that despite this increased interest in automation, there is still a long way to go before businesses can expand beyond optimizing processes to having a competitive advantage in the market. Common obstacles faced by companies include a lack of the necessary skill set, difficulty integrating toolsets, and budget for new tools. When deploying app services, companies cite ease of use as their second most preferred characteristic, after security. “With skill set and integration challenges slowing automation and orchestration initiatives, this desire for app services that are easy to use makes sense,” F5 wrote in the report. 

The company also found that increasingly complex environments are driving the adoption of new application services. For instance, 69% of companies reported that they are using 10 or more application services. The most widely deployed services are those that provide corporate and per-application security. 

“Achieving a successful application deployment necessitates taking full advantage of the wealth of application services available across categories (security, availability, performance, identity) and across generations of application architectures,” F5 wrote. 

Finally, a majority of organizations are shifting the responsibility of app services to IT operations as more organizations gravitate to DevOps-inspired teams. “With all the hype surrounding DevOps and subsequent ‘Ops’ movements, it is ironic that the one group left out is IT operations,” F5 wrote. “This is fascinating given that our research has confirmed what we’ve long suspected: IT operations teams are primarily responsible for deploying app services—whether on premises or in the public cloud.”

F5 believes that as companies begin to transition from single-function teams to ops-oriented teams, responsibility will also shift. This dynamic is evidence that we are witnessing the next phase of maturity in DevOps, F5 explained. 

“As shown by the responses to the 2020 State of Application Services survey, most organizations are just now entering the second phase of digital transformation, automating more parts of the network and incorporating continuous deployment principles to improve productivity and enhance customer experiences. While the current gains may feel modest—and the challenges intense—organizations are persisting toward the third stage of digital transformation to create completely new business opportunities,” F5 stated.