Infra security challenged by complexity of modern apps, multi-cloud, and distributed architectures

The rapid adoption of cloud computing and the heavy dependence on diverse software applications, have made it incredibly crucial for businesses to maintain a delicate balance between security, performance, and availability. However, enterprises face several challenges in application security and delivery, as attackers are continually developing new techniques to exploit vulnerabilities in applications, leading to an ever-evolving threat landscape.

Dhananjay Ganjoo, Managing Director for India & SAARC at F5, a multi-cloud application services and security company, in a recent interaction with Jatinder Singh, Executive Editor of CIO&Leader, shared his insights on the role of emerging technologies in shaping the future of business. Ganjoo also discussed the significant challenges that enterprises face in application security and delivery and provided recommendations on necessary measures to secure and optimize apps and APIs across various environments, including on-premises, in the cloud, or at the edge. Here are the edited excerpts from the interview.

CIO&Leader: In your opinion, what is the potential impact of emerging technologies like AI, blockchain, and IoT on the future of business?

Dhananjay Ganjoo: The potential of emerging technologies such as AI, blockchain, and IoT to transform businesses is significant. AI can automate repetitive tasks, augment human capabilities, and provide valuable insights to inform better decision-making, streamlining processes, reducing costs, and increasing efficiency. Blockchain, on the other hand, provides a secure and transparent way to conduct transactions and store data, improving supply chain management, reducing fraud, and enhancing cybersecurity. IoT technology also plays a vital role in improving operational efficiency, reducing costs, and enhancing customer experiences. As IoT devices become more widely adopted, businesses can gather more data and insights to inform decision-making, optimize processes, and personalize experiences. IoT can also enable businesses to offer new products and services tailored to customer needs and preferences.

The impact of these emerging technologies on business operations will vary based on the industry, use case, and adoption level. Nonetheless, these technologies have the potential to transform the way businesses operate, create new opportunities, and improve outcomes.

CIO&Leader: To what extent has the role of IT become critical in driving innovation and generating new revenue streams?

Dhananjay Ganjoo: As organizations increasingly rely on technology to achieve business results, IT has become a strategic partner in their success. To drive innovation, IT teams must stay up-to-date with emerging technologies and trends that can differentiate their organization from its competitors. This involves identifying areas where technology can enhance existing processes and exploring new business models that leverage technology. IT is vital in creating new income streams by helping organizations develop and launch innovative products and services that leverage technology. This may involve developing new software applications, creating digital platforms, or designing new hardware devices. By leveraging technology and innovative thinking, organizations can create new business models and revenue streams that drive growth and success.

In addition, cloud technology has become a critical component for enterprises, governments and consumers – a study by NASSCOM estimates that cloud computing will account for 8% of our GDP by 2026. Many organizations are opting for multiple cloud providers to run customized cloud-based applications. This leads to different teams finding their own solutions to migrate from legacy systems to pockets of different cloud deployments, which in turn creates less security visibility among teams. Hence, standardizing multi-cloud operations and streamlining multi-cloud deployments can help mitigate cyber-attacks in such situations.

CIO&Leader: As app environments continue to evolve and expand, it has become crucial for enterprises to have a comprehensive app security plan that incorporates multiple layers and a coordinated security effort. What are the primary challenges that enterprises encounter in application security and delivery?

Dhananjay Ganjoo: Ensuring consistent security across the entire infrastructure is difficult due to the growing complexity of modern applications, distributed architectures, and multi-cloud environments. Balancing security with performance and availability presents another challenge. Applications are expected to be fast, responsive, and available 24/7, making it challenging to implement security measures that do not compromise performance or availability.

At F5, we understand the complexity and requirements and offer the F5 Distributed Cloud WAAP (Web Application and API Protection) solution to address all the security concerns in an app-centric world through end-to-end observability. This solution provides companies with valuable insights and telemetry from a centralized interface across their distributed app infrastructure. In addition to WAAP, our advanced security solutions such as DDoS protection, Bot protection, and SSL encryption empower businesses to offer their end customers differentiated, secured digital experiences.

CIO&Leader: F5 has expanded further into software and services in recent years with the acquisition of companies including Nginx, Shape Security, Volterra and Threat Stack. Can you tell us about the strategic rationale behind these acquisitions and how they are helping to drive growth for F5?

Dhananjay Ganjoo: F5 has been expanding into software and services to better meet the needs of its customers and to stay competitive in the fast-paced technology industry. These acquisitions have allowed us to broaden our portfolio of solutions. For instance, NGINX’s technology complements F5’s existing solutions and helps the company expand its offerings to support modern application architectures and DevOps practices, Shape Security’s technology helps protect against automated attacks, credential stuffing, and other security threats, Volterra’s technology enables organizations to deploy, manage, and secure applications across multiple clouds and edge locations, and Threat Stack’s technology helps organizations detect and respond to security threats in real-time. By expanding into software and services, F5 is positioning itself for long-term growth and success.

CIO &Leader: Recently, F5 has launched its first two PoPs in India. How will the launch benefit businesses in India?

Dhananjay Ganjoo: One of the biggest concerns for businesses in India is the security of personal data as cyberattacks are on the rise and more applications are being moved to the cloud. To address this, we have launched Point of Presence (PoP) in India. This allows them to manage and store all Personal Identifiable Information (PII) within the country’s borders, which reduces the risk of identity theft, discrimination, and potential damage to their reputation. Additionally, it provides added security and flexibility to clients, especially those who handle sensitive data and prefer to confine it within India’s borders.

With the launch of these local PoPs, F5 provides more customers in India with convenient access to F5 Distributed Cloud Services. Customers can now easily enable any service from the console and only pay for what they use, making the solution very cost-effective.

CIO&Leader: What recommendations would you offer to CIOs seeking to accelerate digital transformation within their organizations?

Dhananjay Ganjoo: The country’s social, economic, and technological landscape is undergoing rapid change due to digital transformation, and organizations are working to adopt these changes to succeed in this environment. However, along with opportunities, digital transformation also poses several challenges that require the right strategy to overcome. To address these challenges, technology leaders and CIOs must develop a clear digital transformation strategy that outlines their organization’s goals, and the areas that need to be transformed, select the appropriate technologies, and establish a timeline for implementation. Additionally, investing in the right technology, embracing data-driven decision-making, and improving customer experience is imperative to thrive in the digital transformation era.

CIO &Leader: Finally, what are your top priorities for this year?

Dhananjay Ganjoo: To thrive in the era of digital transformation, it is crucial to prioritize the efficiency and security of customers while driving innovation to enhance the experience. As customers scale their businesses and pursue their digital transformation journey from on-premises to the cloud to the edge, we work with them to enable comprehensive and consistent security, performance, adaptability, and resilience to help them continue to evolve, grow, and thrive.

At F5, we are committed to bringing a better digital world to life by securing and optimizing the applications, APIs, and infrastructure businesses rely on – on-premises, in the cloud, and at the edge.

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