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Portrait of a Hybrid IT Organization

Overall, North American public sector organizations are moving further into the cloud, with 96 percent of respondents disclosing in the new SolarWinds report, IT Trends Report 2017: Portrait of a Hybrid IT Organization, that they have migrated critical applications and infrastructure over the past year. “However,” SolarWinds said, “while nearly 60 percent say they have experienced the expected benefits of the cloud, hybrid IT is increasing the complexity of IT roles, and introducing challenges like a lack of visibility between on-premises and cloud infrastructure, as well as the need to develop new skillsets to keep pace with changing environments.

A provider of  IT management software, SolarWinds’s survey features insights from public sector IT practitioners, managersand directors, this year’s annual state-of-the-industry study explored the variety of ways in which IT departments around the world are integrating the cloud and the effect hybrid IT has had on their organizations and IT job roles. The findings of are based on a survey in December 2016 which yielded responses from 75 IT practitioners, managers and directors in the US and Canada from public-sector small, mid-size and large organizations whose organizations are leveraging cloud-based services for at least some IT infrastructure (including applications).

Joe Kim, SolarWinds’ senior vice president and global chief technology officer, told Homeland Security Today that, "While agencies are quickly experiencing the benefits of the cloud including cost efficiency, availability and scalability, they are also concerned about security/compliance, poor performance, and the technical challenges of the actual migration. For today’s federal IT professionals, it’s absolutely critical to not only put the right solutions in place to best manage hybrid IT environments, but also to prepare agencies —and themselves—for continued technology advancements."

Kim said, "Hybrid IT is not just impacting agencies, federal IT professionals are building and expanding new skills in order to adapt to the changing hybrid IT environment. They also have to take on increased workloads and new responsibilities. As traditional IT roles continue to converge, federal IT professionals must focus on improving and cultivating fundamental skill sets that will carry them into the cloud such as data analytics, monitoring, application migration and automation.”

Continuing, he observed, “Government agencies are experiencing increased complexity and a lack of visibility across the entire hybrid IT infrastructure. A majority of respondents noted that they are using up to three different cloud providers. In order to combat the increased complexity, agencies need to adopt a management and monitoring toolset that surfaces a single point of truth across those platforms. This will allow federal IT pros to more proactively identify problem areas and reduce the mean-time-to-resolution."

“No job is more affected by ongoing technology disruptions than the role of the IT professional, which is why we explore these dynamics year after year,” Kim added. “By creating this portrait of today’s public sector hybrid IT organization, we get to the heart of the shifts occurring so we can better understand and cater to the unique needs of these government agencies. For today’s IT professionals, it’s absolutely critical not only to put the right solutions in place to best manage hybrid IT environments, but to prepare organizations—and themselves—for continued technology advancements, even as we move beyond cloud.”

The SolarWinds 2017 IT trends report 2017 explores significant trends, developments and movements related to and directly affecting IT and IT professionals. Key findings show today’s public sector hybrid IT organizations are:

Moving applications, storage and databases further into the cloud

  • In the past 12 months, IT professionals have migrated applications (73 percent), storage (51 percent), and databases (29 percent) to the cloud more than any other areas of IT; and
  • By weighted rank, the top three reasons for prioritizing these areas of their IT environments for migration were greatest potential for ROI/cost efficiency, availability, and increased reliability respectively.

Experiencing the cost efficiencies of the cloud

  • Nearly all (96 percent) public sector organizations have migrated critical applications and IT infrastructure to the cloud over the past year, yet three-fourths (75 percent) spend less than 40 percent of their annual IT budgets on cloud technology;
  • Two-fifths (40 percent) said their organizations spend 70 percent or more of their annual IT budgets on on-premises (traditional) applications and infrastructure;
  • Nearly three in five (58 percent) organizations have received either most or all expected cloud benefits (such as cost efficiency, availability, or scalability); and
  • Cost efficiency is at times not enough to justify migration to the cloud: 29 percent migrated areas to the cloud that were ultimately brought back on-premises due mostly to security/compliance issues, poor performance, and technical challenges with the migration.

Building and expanding cloud roles and skillsets for IT professionals

  • Over three-fifths (62 percent) of IT professionals indicated that hybrid IT has required them to acquire new skills, while 11 percent said it has altered their career path;
  • Nearly three-fifths (57 percent) of public sector organizations have already hired/reassigned IT personnel, or plan to do so, for the specific purpose of managing cloud technologies;
  • The top two cloud-related skills IT professionals improved over the past 12 months were data analytics (40 percent) and monitoring/management tools and metrics (40 percent);
  • Sixty-three percent said an IT staff skills gap was one of the five biggest hybrid IT challenges, while 47 percent said increased workload/responsibilities; and
  • More than a third (38 percent) do not believe that IT professionals entering the workforce now possess the skills necessary to manage hybrid IT environments.

Increasing in complexity and lacking visibility across the entire hybrid IT infrastructure

  • Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) said their organizations currently use up to three cloud provider environments, with the largest percentage using two to three; however, one out of every 10 (9 percent) use 10 or more; and
  • By weighted rank, the number one challenge created by hybrid IT is increased infrastructure complexity, followedby an IT skills gap and lack of control/visibility into the performance of cloud-based applications and infrastructure, respectively.

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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