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We will see a rise in Apps! Last year, IDC predicted a 50% increase in the number of applications over 2020/2021 (Source: IDC InfoBrief, sponsored by Cisco, Transforming Applications and Multicloud Operations). Fast forward to today, it’s even more about apps and digital services to keep the business running and to grow and compete even more aggressively.

It’s not just the rise of the Apps, how they are being built, deployed and operated has changed.

Monolithic applications are being broken down into a mesh of microservices and serverless functions to simplify development and lifecycle management, increase feature velocity, and improve the availability of the software services offered.

More and more workloads are being containerized. Between 35-to-50 percent of an enterprise’s application sprawl is now containerized based on various Gartner and IDC estimates. And it’s not just the app front ends, or the dashboards, but mission-critical workloads such as revenue-generating data analytics pipelines, middleware, and core business logic.

As cloud-native architectures are becoming more pervasive, application components are becoming thinner and thinner (microservices, serverless), and geographically diverse (cloud regions, on-premises, edge locations, across the globe).  A look at a service dependency graph of a cloud-native application gives a sense of the networking and security problem to be solved.

Each node of a typical application graph is an API or service endpoint and in theory, could be anywhere in the world and on any kind of infrastructure – owned or rented, and be instantiated by any kind of technology – a traditional monolithic bare-metal or virtual machine-based component, or a composable cloud native microservice or serverless function.

The networking and security problem for every modern application is becoming complicated.

We have been thinking what Application Networking and Application Security mean for the modern cloud native developer:

  • The Application Network would connect all API and service endpoints, and only those endpoints, wherever they happen to be and in whatever form – as modern composable cloud-native, or traditional monolithic systems. This App Network is built for the application developer. It has narrow and deep application context and is less worried about all the rest of the traffic flowing through the virtual or physical network below. It follows the principles of simplified connectivity, relevant context, and follows the same activation models that are used in application development. The Banzai Cloud team based out of Budapest, Hungary, has now joined us to help build out this vision.
  • The Application Security pipeline would push security constructs and postures higher up the application stack and much earlier in the declarative application definition, development, and continuous deployment pipeline, in what is now being known as the Shift Left paradigm. Then, following good Defense in Depth principles, the App Security pipeline will follow-up with verification and feedback during service runtime. The Portshift team joined us from Tel-Aviv this past October, bringing their deep expertise in Kubernetes and container security to assist in building out this vision.
  • While developing in, and operating on this Application Networking and Security framework, app developers, security engineers, platform engineers, infrastructure engineers and all types of SRE teams can fully observe and reason about API and service characteristics, including their reputation score, security exposure, and their available SLOs.
  • The application-first nature of all business going forward also implies working closely with developers and cultivating communities. Driving code and projects into open source and fostering forums and bodies that enable sharing of knowledge, data sets, processes, and use cases are just some of the ways that Cisco has been nurturing open communities like the Network Service Mesh project in CNCF. Both the Banzai Cloud and Portshift teams also bring in a wealth of open source and community building experience into Cisco. We will continue to form, encourage and nurture projects within these communities when it comes to Application Networking and Application Security.

The Application-first Infrastructure for modern applications is here. Cisco is uniquely positioned to deliver a simplified, unified application infrastructure that breaks down silos across developers, operations and security teams. We have a deep understanding of an enterprise’s multi-cloud networking and security space, and an appreciation of the challenges our customers face in building, deploying, connecting, securing and operating modern applications in both greenfield and brownfield environments. Through centralized, SaaS-delivered management and optimization solutions, organizations can increase the velocity of development, achieve operational efficiency, and deliver better application experiences, all of which lead to better business outcomes.