In recent years, the adoption of cloud IT services within organisations has increased at a dramatic rate. IT departments are now subsequently facing various hurdles between integrating such cloud services and managing distributed environments. These issues have further been complicated by an increasing lack of visibility, with resources split between on-premises and cloud infrastructure services. This, combined with the ever-present need to develop new skillsets to keep pace with rapidly evolving technology trends, has presented a fresh set of challenges in the day-to-day life of IT professionals.
With 92 percent of survey respondents having implemented hybrid IT services in the past year, it’s clear that IT organisations are beginning to realise the benefits of this approach. But this transformation has impacted the job role and skill requirements of IT professionals, creating challenges for many.
The introduction of hybrid IT environments has placed a significant strain on IT departments due to the fresh set of demands required to capitalise on its benefits. Of those surveyed in the SolarWinds report, 58 percent said an IT staff skills gap was one of the five biggest hybrid IT challenges. The additional workload of managing both on-premises and cloud services requires a skillset that 45 percent of respondents don’t believe current IT professionals in the workforce possess. This gap is extremely worrying.
The skills gap for hybrid IT has been a growing concern for a while now, but the good news is that it’s being addressed. Almost half (46 percent) of U.K.-based organisations are already making efforts to hire or reassign specialist IT personnel for the specific purpose of managing cloud technologies. Likewise, the demands of hybrid IT have also contributed to enhancing the skillsets of IT professionals by spurring additional training.
The skills gap isn’t the only challenge presented by hybrid IT infrastructure. IT professionals must now work alongside cloud service providers to manage the performance and health of their applications across multiple environments. This has introduced a sense of uncertainty for IT professionals, as it has become significantly harder to distinguish where the responsibility for certain IT administration tasks lie. Furthermore, the increased number of stakeholders can reduce levels of overall clarity and visibility. Those working within hybrid IT no longer enjoy the luxury of a data-centric, single-pane-of-glass visibility across the entire application stack.
Matters are not helped by the proliferation of multiple cloud service providers: the 2017 report now shows that 74 percent of organisations currently use up to three. The use of several separate external providers to support one’s applications is an extra complication that will make the process of understanding, troubleshooting, and remediating incidents significantly more inefficient and time-consuming.
It is essential for IT professionals to embrace the culture of an ever-changing hybrid IT environment and continue to learn new skills from its integration and delivery. IT professionals should consider the following recommendations when dealing with the various demands of hybrid IT:
Embrace new skills – The report shows that IT professionals rank hybrid monitoring or management tools and metrics, application migration, automation, and data analytics as the most important skills and knowledge areas needed to successfully manage hybrid IT solutions In response to this, IT professionals must embrace monitoring as a discipline and as a core skill. If used correctly, it has the potential to lay the rigor and discipline for a more proactive, efficient, and effective IT management strategy.
Maintain full clarity across the hybrid IT environment – A management and monitoring toolset that offers holistic visibility with connected context of the application across all platforms is essential. This will provide IT professionals with a comprehensive understanding of how workloads are performing in the cloud, with baselines and trends for that performance and health. It can also help to establish and build trust with cloud service providers by enabling the effective identification, troubleshooting, and resolution of any issues, subsequently reducing system downtime and improving the overall efficiency of your hybrid IT environment. Additionally, it can help keep cloud service providers honest with their service level agreements.
Performance over cost – It is clear that application and data security, compliance, and performance have now been established as priorities going forward. This is reflected in the report, which shows that some organisations have reverted back to solely on-premises services. With increasingly demanding end-user expectations, IT professionals must factor in the security and performance requirements of each application prior to migration to cloud services to ensure that the desired Quality of Service is maintained.
Plot future migration – Every organisation’s hybrid IT and cloud computing environment is unique. IT professionals must therefore embrace a culture of continuous integration and continuous delivery in their application roadmap. This will help tie business interests to the overall ROI of the hybrid IT infrastructure.
The integration of cloud and hybrid IT services is delivering disruptive innovation via applications from a variety of data centres—ones that are more global, interconnected, and agile than ever. Although the benefits of hybrid IT environments are becoming more apparent, they have also added more complexity and technology abstractions for many IT professionals. Those who are responsible for monitoring and managing this infrastructure need to maintain discipline and rigour as they devise suitable methods and effective approaches for doing so, or be at risk of having their careers disrupted.