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Microservices / Networking / Service Mesh

How Much Will App Services Like Service Mesh Grow?

37% of IT professionals expect to start using service meshes in the public cloud in the next year, but actual adoption rates may be significantly lower if the technology's hype bubble bursts, according to a recent survey from F5 Networks.
Feb 13th, 2020 7:20am by
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Network management services for modern architectures, such as the service mesh and the API gateway, are increasingly on IT professionals’ roadmaps, especially within public cloud environments. Notably, 37% of IT professionals expect to start using service meshes in the public cloud in the next year, but actual adoption rates may be significantly lower if the technology’s hype bubble bursts. Those are two of our takeaways from F5 Networks’ “2020 State of Application Services,” which is based on a survey of over 2,500 IT professionals, 34% of which are in a networking-related role.

According to the survey, 51% are currently using ingress control services in a public cloud, with 41% using API gateways and 19% using service meshes. Those figures are significantly lower for on-premises environments. However, the adoption of more traditional services, such as SSL VPN and common security services (e.g., firewall, antivirus) are more likely to be used in on-premises environments. For example, 81% use SSL VPN on-premises as compared to 67% in the public cloud. It’s a different pattern. Although we don’t have access to specific data, newer categories of app services are less likely to be needed on-premises because workloads running on-premises are less likely to have been refactored to take advantage of cloud native architecture.

By one measure, adoption of service meshes may have dropped year-over-year. The 2019 study found that 27% were using service meshes, but didn’t distinguish between use in public vs. on-premises environments. The 10% of respondents that have more than 10 million API calls per month were much more likely to have already deployed ingress control (67%) and service mesh (54%) in the public cloud.

As explained in a recent series of articles sponsored by Citrix, service meshes are part of proxy architectures used to deliver microservices-based applications. The survey does not detail the extent to which service meshes are expected to supplement instead of replacing the use of other approaches to traffic management. It is unlikely that 37% of respondents will start using service meshes in the next year, but if they do then a whopping 56% will have them in the public cloud by the end of 2020.

Last year’s survey also asked about these app services but did not distinguish between locations. Therefore, it is difficult to compare how real adoption has changed over time. With that caveat let’s look at how adoption changed year over year:

  • API gateways dropped slightly from 42% (all clouds) to 41% (public clouds)
  • Ingress control rose slightly from 42% (all clouds) to 47% (public clouds)
  • Service mesh dropped slightly from 27% (all clouds) to 19% (public clouds)

F5 Networks is set to benefit from increased demand for services that help manage application traffic. Last year, F5 Networks acquired NGINX, which supports open source software commonly used for ingress control and API gateways. It also bought Aspen Mesh, a startup that is on top of developments in the service mesh space.

We will continue to investigate these topics. In the meantime, here is more of our analysis from other parts of the report:

  • Network automation’s growth rate is uncertain. Automation of Layer 4-7 application services in deployment pipelines actually dropped from 42% to 40% compared to last year. Network services (Layer 2-3) also saw a one percentage point drop. Relatively few organizations use paid-for code repositories like GitHub Enterprise (12%) and GitLab Enterprise (8%) as part of the network automation process. A community-initiated survey about NetDevOps produced contradictory findings. The 293 participants for that study showed significant growth in a range of network automation activities, but that growth is in comparison to 2016, which is when the survey was previously conducted. The NetDevOps survey’s respondents appear to be more advanced in their adoption of infrastructure as code, which can enable network automation.
  • Microservices vs. monoliths debates ignore the larger picture. In the average portfolio of applications, 15% are microservices-based and 11% are monolithic or hosted on a mainframe. That means that 74% of an average enterprise’s applications use either a client-server or a three-tier architecture. A recent SolarWinds report also shows that application portfolios are overwhelming heterogeneous, but a report suggests that developers may be starting to shy away from the complexity of creating applications with a hybrid monolith/microservices architecture.
  • Security concerns decline. It is true that 58% of respondents said maintaining security, policy and compliance in a multi-cloud environment is challenging. Overall, 62% of respondents are confident in their ability to protect applications in an on-premises data center, which rose from 53% that felt that way in the previous year’s study. At 45%, fewer people are confident in the security for applications residing in public clouds, but that is still better than the 38% reported the year before.

Source: F5 Networks’ “2020 State of Application Services Report”.


Source: NetDevOps 2019 Survey


Source: F5 Networks’ “2020 State of Application Services Report”.


Citrix is a sponsor of The New Stack. F5 Networks owns AspenMesh, which is a sponsor of The New Stack.

Feature image by Engin_Akyurt from Pixabay.

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