The rate of cloud services adoption has increased dramatically over the past few years. However, the challenges of integrating and delivering cloud services while managing the performance of the distributed systems across multiple environments are further complicated by the increasing lack of visibility between on-premises and cloud infrastructure services, as well as the need to develop new skillsets to keep pace with the rapid influx of evolving technologies.
To examine the variety of ways in which IT organizations globally are integrating cloud services, and the effect hybrid IT has had on their organizations and IT job roles, SolarWinds recently released the SolarWinds IT Trends Report 2017: Portrait of a Hybrid Organization, our annual study consisting of survey-based research that explores significant trends, developments, and movements related to and directly affecting IT and IT professionals.
The study is based on a survey fielded in December 2016 that yielded responses from 205 IT practitioners, managers, and directors in the U.S. and Canada (868 globally) from public and private sector small, mid-size, and enterprise companies whose organizations are leveraging cloud-based services for at least some IT infrastructure. The findings help illustrate what a modern hybrid IT organization looks like — notably, they are realizing the cost benefits of the cloud, but continue to struggle with shifting job and skill dynamics.
Overall, the 2017 key findings show that today’s hybrid IT organizations are:
- Moving applications, storage, and databases further into the cloud
- Experiencing the cost efficiencies of the cloud
- Building and expanding cloud roles and skillsets for IT professionals
- Increasing in complexity and lacking visibility across the entire hybrid IT infrastructure
With these findings in mind, it’s vital that IT professionals continue to learn new skills to deal with the volume, variety, and velocity of change that’s making its way through hybrid IT environments. To help IT professionals arm themselves with a new set of skills, products, and resources to succeed as the hybrid IT era continues to evolve, they should consider the following recommendations:
Ensure central visibility across on-premises and cloud environments
In the face of enterprise technology’s exponential rate of change, a management and monitoring toolset that surfaces a single point of truth across those platforms is essential. The ability to consolidate and correlate data to deliver more breadth, depth, and visibility across the data center will allow IT professionals to proactively identify and remediate problem areas and reduce the mean time to resolution.
Consider more than just cost efficiency
The findings of this year’s report indicate that cloud’s ability to increase ROI is less important to today’s IT professionals, with security, compliance, and performance now top of mind. With enduser expectations for availability, durability, and an acceptable response time no matter where an application is hosted or from where it’s delivered, IT professionals need to factor in the security and performance requirements of each application prior to migration to cloud services to ensure that quality of service is still met throughout the entire distributed stack.
Future-proof your job
Over the past 12 months, IT professionals ranked hybrid IT monitoring/management tools and metrics, application migration, automation, and data analytics as the most important skills and knowledge needed to successfully manage hybrid IT environments. In addition to leveraging their peer communities to better understand technology adaptations and abstractions, IT professionals need to establish monitoring as a foundational IT skill, also known as monitoring as a discipline, to drive a more proactive, efficient, and effective IT management strategy.
Forecast future migration, but remain flexible
As illustrated by this year’s report findings, every organization’s hybrid IT environment is unique and the velocity, variety, and volume of new technology services are giving ample opportunity to realize innovation. To that end, IT professionals must be open to and agile in adopting the best-of-breed elements of cloud computing and hybrid IT. The best thing for any IT department to do in the year ahead is to build a roadmap for future integration and delivery that will help illustrate ROI and business advantages, or the lack thereof, for business management.
Trust but verify cloud service providers with IT rigor and discipline
“Trust but verify” should be the IT professional’s mantra as organizations work to identify how best to maintain an element of control and visibility into workloads and applications that are hosted in the cloud. It will be critical to leverage comprehensive hybrid IT monitoring, beyond what is typically offered by cloud service providers, to ensure they have enough data and visibility to truly understand how workloads are performing in the cloud and the reasons for that performance. Similar to traditional on-premises strategies, application availability and durability are key trust tenets in hybrid IT.
Cloud services and hybrid IT are a reality for the majority of organizations today and have created a new era of workflows — one that is more global, interconnected, and flexible than ever. At the same time, the benefits of hybrid IT introduce greater complexity and technology abstraction. This means the IT professionals who are tasked with devising new and creative methods to monitor and manage this infrastructure not only need to put the right solutions in place to do so, but also need to prepare organizations — and themselves — for continued technology advancements, even as we move forward.