By Chrystal Taylor, Head Geek™ at SolarWinds
One of the biggest challenges IT pros face is tackling complexity head-on. Businesses have largely returned to normal, and most IT teams are wrangling the confusing mess of their highly distributed hybrid IT environments, which consist of one or multiple clouds, applications, and “as a service” solutions bolted into place during the pandemic amidst the hasty and massive shift to remote work arrangements.
It’s a daunting task for most. Most IT pros feel doubtful their organisation will ever bring the complexity beast to bear, according to our recent SolarWinds® IT Trends Report 2022. This has cascading business repercussions, from lagging support for a returning hybrid workforce to hampered innovation due to complexity limitations blocking technological adoption, digital initiatives, and the like.
So far, the outlook seems grim—but there’s always hope. Let’s unpack the findings of this year’s IT Trends Report and the potential solutions capable of placing confidence and control firmly back in the hands of our beleaguered IT teams.
From Big to Small, Complexity Impacts All
The long hand of network complexity impacts every organisation, no matter how large or resourceful. Over 25% of surveyed IT pros agreed the acceleration of hybrid IT has made management and operations more complex, and over 38% lack the necessary tools needed to manage this complexity. There’s a clash between the old and new, with over 51% of respondents saying fragmentation is the leading driver of complexity and another 42% pointing to new technologies or tools as the cause.
Complexity from the fragmentation between legacy and new technology is especially acute in mid-sized organisations, with 71% of respondents citing it as the top cause, compared to their counterparts in small businesses (30%) and larger enterprises (44%). This makes sense, as fast-growing businesses were forced to digitise to survive and compete during the pandemic.
Unsurprisingly, confidence in managing network complexity is in greater supply for smaller businesses, with over 28% of respondents in those companies saying they were extremely confident in managing their digital sprawl, compared to their enterprise peers (13%). Larger enterprises showed the lowest confidence, with over 38% somewhat confident in managing this growing complexity. It’s clear the confidence of IT pros is flagging across the board, signalling the urgent need for effective tools or mitigation strategies.
Strangling the Potential and Profitability of Projects
The most worrying consequence of this lack of confidence is the impact it brings to future transformation initiatives or projects. Over 77% of respondents said return on investment (ROI) for their IT projects was impacted in some form in the past 12 to 18 months due to increasing hybrid IT complexity. Delays hamstringing project deliveries were common:
- Thirty-three percent of respondents said projects took another four to seven months to complete
- Forty-three percent said their projects were extended by up to three months
- Interestingly, 31% of IT pros in mid-sized companies cited a shorter delay of one to four weeks to achieve expected ROI, compared to smaller businesses (11%) and larger enterprises (14%)
These results don’t bode well for organisations still struggling to recover from the effects of prolonged lockdowns while wrestling with current supply chain shocks. Customers expect more seamless digital experiences and services than ever before, making it critical for IT pros to manage hybrid complexity now—before it hampers and impacts the delivery and profitability of their projects.
Regain Control With Observability and Monitoring
Pushing back this fog requires solutions capable of extending visibility and observability over the entire network. There’s a wealth of solutions out there, so what’s stopping IT pros from leveraging them? Barriers range from time constraints (40%) and team silos (40%) to tight budgets (37%)—all-too-familiar challenges for IT teams. But in a time of economic uncertainty, 76% of respondents revealed their organisations plan to invest less than 20% of overall IT budgets, further intensifying the fight against complexity.
How IT pros utilise their limited budgets will determine how effective and productive they are in the coming months. Though over 46% of IT pros are prioritising staff training and upskilling, there’s a critical need to adopt IT monitoring and management tools to extend visibility over sprawling hybrid networks—a strategy only 44% of IT pros are following. Another 44% are looking to consolidate cloud systems, which is another good step towards boosting the effective coverage of any monitoring or observability tools they choose to adopt.
To maximise their budgets and returns, IT teams should consider vendors offering more holistic solutions for monitoring and observability. These solutions shouldn’t just output data and logs revealing the health of internal systems—they should also provide the tools IT pros need to monitor, troubleshoot, and automate large swathes of their complex hybrid environments. Only with deeper insight into (and control over) their sprawling networks can IT teams begin to make meaningful progress towards optimisation or even sunsetting solutions no longer needed in the post-pandemic world.