Top 3 Challenges Of Hybrid IT
Arm yourself with a new set of tools to meet these challenges.
Cloud computing and the strategic use of hybrid IT to drive innovation are bringing in changes across organizations of every size and shape. Although endusers may not see it, you, the IT professional, are most likely experiencing a demanding new era of work — one in which your organization is taking advantage of the cloud services and hybrid IT to become more innovative, cost effective, agile, and interconnected than ever before.
The recently released SolarWinds IT Trends Report 2017: Portrait of a Hybrid IT Organization uncovered some of the key challenges hybrid IT environments present, and this article will explain why these challenges exist and how to overcome them.
Increased infrastructure complexity
According to the survey, 62% of IT professionals across enterprise, mid-sized, and small businesses agree that hybrid IT introduces increased infrastructure complexities to their day-to-day responsibilities. The continuous change of cloud in terms of volume, velocity, and variety of services all bring the promise of innovation, but they also bring new levels of responsibility.
The data shows a 12% delta between enterprise-sized companies and mid-sized companies; still, the commonality between them is that one in two IT professionals, regardless of company size, see increasing complexities that are challenging their everyday roles and responsibilities due to this continuous change. The volume and velocity of new cloud services and technologies are powering the variety of choices, and with those choices comes great responsibility. For example, you can stand up a solution on-premises and deliver email via Exchange™, or, you can consume it as a cloud service from Microsoft® via Microsoft Office 365® Business Premium, from Google® via G Suite™, and even Amazon’s recently-announced office productivity suite — the list goes on.
Today, the onus is on IT professionals to manage all the changes and integrate seamlessly. IT is responsible for the data in their organizations, from multiple devices across different operating systems, application stacks, different delivery mechanisms, consumption models, and more. These elements begin to resemble a multi-variable calculus equation, where services, vendors, processes, technology, and personnel can change over time. Regardless of the organization’s size or industry, however, hybrid IT presents the opportunity to realize the value of what can be categorized as disruptive innovation in their revenue-generating applications; in other words, intellectual property.
To solve the demand for innovation while managing increased complexity, IT professionals should forecast future migration but remain flexible. Hybrid IT deployments take different shapes and forms from one organization to another. Every organization’s environment is unique. Moving forward, IT departments should build processes for proof-of-concepts and migration that illustrates return on investment (ROI), or the lack thereof, to their business leadership team. This includes an understanding of how to get visibility of the entire stack with hybrid IT monitoring tools, establishing protocols for migration and quality/reliability testing of applications, and learning economic and data-planning models.
Lack of control and visibility into the performance of cloud-based infrastructure
Not only are you faced with complexity in cloud infrastructure services, but there are also visibility and control issues to contend with. A jarring discovery, however, is that 50% of IT professionals surveyed feel they lack control and visibility, which are necessary for their projects to succeed. IT professionals must work in lockstep with managers to secure and implement a comprehensive toolset to achieve control and visibility across the hybrid IT infrastructure.
Without a comprehensive toolset, it’s difficult to see how an IT professional can be in control and properly maintaining your organization’s compliance and governance needs, as well as delivering the necessary Quality of Service (QoS) to meet service-level agreements. In other words, the only way to achieve these goals is to have visibility throughout the entire application stack, from infrastructure services supporting the application tier to the networks that connect an organization’s secret sauce to your customers. It’s especially applicable in the case of endusers who are experiencing performance issues on their home or mobile network — you’ll need a comprehensive monitoring toolset that’s troubleshooting-ready so you can quickly surface the single point of truth and remediate issues.
Moreover, there’s often a misconception that visibility into the cloud is only necessary once you reach a certain size as a company. However, the reality is that if you have infrastructure services in the cloud, any organization — whether you’re a small to medium business or a Global 100 company with a fully integrated DevOps strategy — must be able to ensure central visibility across on-premises and cloud environments. Workloads are becoming increasingly distributed between on-premises and cloud across multiple geographic locations. In the face of enterprise technology’s exponential rate of change, the ability to surface a single point of truth across those platforms is essential. The ability to consolidate and correlate time series data to deliver more breadth, depth, and visibility across the data center will allow IT professionals to quickly remediate problems and reduce the mean time to resolution.
IT staff skills gap
The third greatest challenge associated with hybrid IT environments — and it’s also one that exacerbates increased infrastructure complexity and a lack of visibility — is that more than three out of five IT professionals across the board recognize that there is a skills gap in the industry. Traditionally, certifications through Cisco®, Oracle®, Microsoft®, or VMware® proved you were capable of jumping through vendor-specific hoops to resolve any issues that could crop up in those environments. However, in the hybrid IT world where volume, velocity, and variety reign supreme, it’s increasingly difficult to become well-versed in the number of different, but viable solutions available. Therein lies the skills gap, and regardless of where you work, these issues will follow.
The need, however, to deliver solutions anywhere at any time at the right price remains. Across different service providers, there may be services that are similar in nature, but have different names and specifications, and it’s up to you to normalize that experience, and put them into practice. For instance, if you’re working on tiered applications for a transactional e-commerce site, you can create a multi-tier design that’s all on-premises, or, you could take the hybrid IT route and move the application and web services to the cloud while maintaining the customer data on-premises.
As time goes on and more services and choices come your way, it will be more important than ever to cloud-proof your job. As traditional, siloed IT roles continue to converge, focus on cultivating fundamental skillsets that will carry you into the cloud, such as hybrid IT monitoring/management tools, distributed application architecture, automation, and data analytics. Look to leverage peer communities to better understand and more quickly put into practice various technology variants and abstractions like software-defined constructs, containers, microservices, and serverless architecture. Finally, establish monitoring as a foundational IT function, also known as monitoring as a discipline, to drive a more proactive, efficient, and effective IT management strategy.
In conclusion, as an IT professional, you need to arm yourself with a new set of skills, tools, and resources to succeed as the hybrid IT era continues to evolve. And while challenges with the cloud will persist for the foreseeable future, organizations should develop future integration plans, ensure central visibility across all environments, and actively work to help IT professionals close the skills gap.