As businesses scramble to keep up with today’s fast-paced digital world, they are turning to application services to help ease the pain. A newly released report revealed app services are key to cloud adoption and a successful app-driven digital economy.

According to application service provider F5 Networks, app services refer to things like load balancing, security, DDoS mitigation, traffic optimization, access control, ingress control and IoT gateways. The company released its 2019 State of Application Services report to look look at how organizations are utilizing application services in digital transformation initiatives.

The report, which was previously known as the State of Application Delivery report, is based off of about 2,000 responses from a variety of industries, company sizes and roles around the world. Lori Macvittie, principal technical evangelist for F5 Networks, explained changing the name of the annual report reflects the evolution of application delivery. “The focus is no longer on the platform that delivers those services, it is on the services themselves. These are functions and tools that provide capabilities critical to successfully securing and scaling the most important asset a business has today: applications,” she wrote in a blog post.

The survey revealed 87 percent of respondents are making cloud decisions based on what’s best for each application. The result is an adoption of multi-cloud architectures driven by app-first methodologies.

“That applications and their data are at the center of the IT and business universe can be seen in the way the application drives deployment location decisions. When an application is ready for deployment, nearly half of organizations (47%) choose a cloud based on the application’s type. Forty-four (44%) consider what kind of end user will be accessing the application, and another 44% make the decision on a per-application basis,” Macvittie wrote.

The report also found 69 percent of respondents are undergoing digital transformation initiatives, and re-evaluating structures, processes and workflows to take advantage of agile development, public cloud and new app architectures such as containers.

Fifty-six percent of respondents stated they are adopting containers as gateways, app security and availability are becoming increasingly important. According to the report, the rise of containers is boosting the adoption of SDN and API gateways as well as servicemesh and cloud-native app services.

In addition, 62 percent of respondents are using automation and architecture initiatives to keep up with the rapid rate of change from external-facing applications. “With silos breaking down and cross-functional teams speeding innovation, organizations are standardizing on developer-oriented solutions to implement CI/CD practices throughout IT,” according to the report.

Other findings included security services such as DDoS protection, WAF protection and anti-fraud are on the rise; and businesses are starting to see the important of data analysis and real-time threat analytics.

“It’s these services that help organizations ensure that their applications can be quickly migrated and deployed with the confidence that they are always available, protecting their business from unforeseen threats, and scaling seamlessly around the world—no matter where their applications reside,” the report stated. “As digital transformation continues to change the landscape, deploying consistent application services enables organizations to keep pace and thrive. By maintaining uniform policies, security, and availability across their entire portfolio of applications, organizations can best optimize their application capital—and continue to grow their business.”