We are living in a world of continuous innovation, made possible by software. We are seeing more and more companies develop a software engineering culture, expanding and accelerating the pace and scale of what’s imaginable. As IT and development operations merge – 50% of organizations are now implementing DevOps – and the concepts of continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) become every day realities, businesses are going to see ongoing dividends from their software investments.

But making the shift to a truly agile, efficient software-defined infrastructure isn’t as simple as flipping a switch. It requires the deployment of new technologies and the acquisition of new skill sets to ensure the value of the IT environment can be fully extracted and optimized. One key barrier to adoption that Forbes recently reported on is a fragmented toolchain – it is difficult to achieve DevOps governance when there is no standardization across the tools and technologies being used.

Why an App Framework Makes Sense

One way to consolidate the toolchain is to adopt an application framework. An app framework enables businesses to create a standard structure for app development and deployment. This standardization makes it easier to build and integrate apps in a way that is frictionless and seamless. It helps accelerate innovation and reduce time to value. It’s good, which is why we’ve seen companies make a move in this direction.

Palo Alto Networks, in particular, has been touting their app framework. It was a focal point of their recent partner and user events. They’ve been highlighting how their framework is open, so customers can use apps developed by innovators across their broad ecosystem to quickly achieve their objectives.

The Key is in the Approach

Palo Alto Networks has taken a page from Salesforce, whose app framework “makes it easy to build powerful business applications that run entirely on demand.” Salesforce has built an empire by ensuring their platform is the foundation of all things customer relationship management. Their framework perpetuates their foundational position – empowering customers and partners to build hooks and extensions into their platform that further increase its stickiness and value.

I think the Palo Alto Networks app framework holds promise because it follows a similar approach. Rather than trying to unify everything at the operational system (OS) level, which is the approach some companies have taken (less successfully), everything is delivered in the cloud.

This cloud-level framework aligns much more effectively with how businesses are consuming services and apps, now and in the future. According to “LogicMonitor’s Cloud Vision 2020: The Future of the Cloud Study” 83% of enterprise workloads will be in the cloud by 2020. In addition, the fact that Palo Alto Networks offers a cloud-level framework for security, starts to address a big need that enterprises have been struggling to fill – 66% of IT professionals cited security is their most significant concern when adopting an enterprise cloud computing strategy.

The Potential of the Palo Alto Networks Application Framework

Palo Alto Networks app framework offers customers the value of a strong ecosystem of security technologies that can drive automated responses to better combat the constantly evolving threats targeting enterprises. In theory, this framework could help security administrators create the secure, agile environment they are aiming for, allowing them to minimize the daily operational challenges and fire drills that consume most of their time today, so they can focus on delivering better business outcomes.

Keys to Success

Ultimately, the key to Palo Alto Networks’ app framework’s success will be how quickly it’s embraced by the broader ecosystem and customers. I believe they already have more than 75 partner applications available or in the works. The venture fund Palo Alto Networks has created to spur development could also help jumpstart adoption.

The biggest barrier to success, however, may end up not being grounded in any of the technology, but rather in the people and processes guiding the technology. Security requires a combination of people, products and processes all working together quickly and efficiently. Getting products to be more automated and operate more seamlessly together will definitely help create better outcomes, but won’t achieve the results we are all looking for if advancements aren’t accompanied by a much bigger mindset transformation.

Enterprises need to evaluate all their people and processes and make sure they have the structure, skills and expertise they need to adopt a more preventative approach to security. They need to be confident they can set priorities and pick and choose the technologies they need to successfully deploy to achieve the right level of security.

This is truly a new way to think about security. It’s no longer about “boxes.” It’s no longer about trying to stitch together a patchwork of products. If this app framework works, it will allow enterprises to be more holistic in their approach and more comprehensive in their defense, which will ultimately make them more productive in leveraging technology to best advantage for their business.

Next Steps

To learn more, you can register to attend any of our Ultimate Test Drive (UTD) days or request an education voucher for the Palo Alto Networks Foundations course, which covers security transformation using the Application Framework, delivered in partnership with UberKnowledge, by sending an email to info@cloudharmonics.com.