Despite moving to the cloud, IT departments struggle to meet business demands

An OpsRamp survey of IT managers described the ups and downs of departments trying to modernize under weighty cost constraints.

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Software company OpsRamp surveyed 250 IT managers on current trends as well as the future of the industry. They sought to answer three questions: What forces prevent IT operations from embracing modernization, how can companies develop high-performance digital operations teams, and how can they recruit or retain elite talent to accelerate digital transformation.

In the "Adapt or Perish: The OpsRamp Report on Modern IT Operations in the Digital Age" survey, all of the respondents worked for companies with more than 500 employees and were based in the United States.

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In the cloud

The survey found that nearly 90% of enterprises have at least one quarter of their infrastructure running in the cloud. Under 10% used entirely cloud-based infrastructure systems, but more than half had at least 50% of their systems in the cloud.

"The rapid adoption of public cloud services coupled with cloud native patterns (microservices and containers) for building modern applications will require significant rethinking and overhauling of traditional IT operations practices," the survey said. "Digital operations teams will need to build the right skills, knowledge, and capabilities to thrive in a world where the technology infrastructure will be increasingly hybrid and new workloads will be largely invisible."

More importantly, most respondents said their companies had moved more than half of their mission-critical workloads to the public cloud. Companies were switching to the cloud primarily because it allows organizations to release applications more frequently with scalable infrastructure, has flexible pay-as-you-go pricing models, and enables streamlined collaboration.

Demand for DevOps

The survey highlighted that DevOps practices were now very important skills any modern IT department needed in order to carry out critical actions like agile planning, configuration management, continuous integration, and automated deployments.

The most in-demand IT skills revolve around DevOps, which has become vital to building apps and services with frequent deployments, continuous improvements, and lower failure rates. IT departments also need people skilled in using cloud environments. 

According to the study, worldwide public cloud spending will double from $229 billion in 2019 to $500 billion in 2023. New jobs like cloud engineers and cloud architects are now massively important for deploying and optimizing highly available applications. 

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Lack of IT talent

Unfortunately, there is a dearth of qualified IT workers, with the report citing one statistic from consulting firm Korn Ferry, which said there will be a global technology talent shortage of up to 85 million by 2030. The survey said that because of the talent shortage, IT leaders are increasingly turning to upskilling their employees through formal training programs, on-the-job training, or helping to secure relevant technical certifications.

IT staff lack the kind of talent necessary to achieve the goals of C-suite executives and still struggle with obsolete legacy applications. Nearly 95% of respondents said it was somewhat difficult to recruit the right technology and business talent.

The report noted that it was also important for enterprises to create concrete, understandable goals and metrics for IT departments in order to track success.

Positive work culture

A positive work culture is also key to a successful IT department, and organizations must pay competitive salaries while offering flexibility and important projects.

The study said the best IT teams "create a culture of collaboration to support the right business outcomes that will create economic value, drive competitive differentiation, and superior performance."

There is often a big gap between what executives expect from IT and what is possible within the constraints of most organizations. Respondents told OpsRamp researchers that their IT departments struggled with budgetary concerns, greater responsibility, and fewer resources.

"IT operations teams can no longer be content spending their time and energy on low-level system performance metrics. The business is counting on the critical contribution of technology infrastructure leaders to deliver new revenue streams, drive faster time-to-market for products and services, and ensure better digital user engagement," the report said.

"Sixty-four percent of IT operations leaders believe their job is to deliver agile, responsive, and resilient infrastructure that can support fast-moving business requirements. Fifty-one percent of IT executives are looking to improve their organization's security posture by investing in continuous compliance and governance processes for hybrid environments." 

Companies are now spending $1.2 trillion annually on digital transformation technologies, so IT departments are increasingly relied upon to deliver somewhat unrealistic user experiences that companies want to drive customer intimacy, revenue growth, and competitive differentiation.

"The OpsRamp Report on Modern IT Operations in the Digital Age identifies the challenges that many of our customers are experiencing," said Varma Kunaparaju, CEO of OpsRamp. "Enterprises want agility, flexibility, control, and the power and promise of the cloud."

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