The challenges of managing increased complexity as hybrid IT accelerates

SolarWinds released the findings of its ninth annual IT Trends Report which examines the acceleration of digital transformation efforts and its impact on IT departments. The report found the acceleration of hybrid IT has increased network complexity for most organizations and caused several worrisome challenges for IT professionals.

hybrid IT acceleration challenges

Hybrid and remote work have amplified the impact of distributed and complex IT environments. Running workloads and applications across both cloud and on-premises infrastructure can be challenging, and many organizations are increasingly experiencing—and ultimately hindered by—these pain points.

According to a report by IDC, as more and more mission-critical workloads move to connected cloud architectures that span public, private, hybrid, and multi-cloud environments, enterprises recognize they need to invest in the tools that will help them ensure consistent policies and performance across all platforms and end users. However, they simultaneously face challenges such as budget, time constraints, and barriers to implementing observability as a strategy to keep pace with hybrid IT realities.

The report also found tech professionals feel less confident in their organization’s ability to manage IT. While 54% of tech pro respondents state they leverage monitoring strategies to manage this complexity, 49% revealed they lack visibility into the majority of their organization’s apps and infrastructure. This lack of visibility impacts their ability to conduct anomaly detection, easy root-cause analysis, and other critical processes to ensure the availability, performance, and security of business-critical applications.

“Operational complexity prevents organizations from capitalizing on their technology-driven transformation and investments and delivering benefits for end users,” said Sudhakar Ramakrishna, president and CEO, SolarWinds.

“As organizations look beyond the pandemic, they must re-examine their investments from the past few years. Part of that requires organizations to have visibility into their IT environments to understand what’s working and not working, and where to prioritize their efforts to achieve the ROI targeted in their planned projects.”

“Observability is increasingly becoming the clear answer for tech pros charged with managing greater levels of complexity in these diverse and distributed environments spanning on-premises, private and public clouds,” added Ramakrishna. “However, organizations must set aside time and resources to upskill and train tech pros to help them properly implement observability strategies and manage hybrid IT realities more effectively—and set up their teams and business for success in the long run.”

Hybrid IT acceleration challenges

The continued expanse of hybrid IT is driving increased levels of IT management complexity, but tech pros feel a lack of confidence in how best to manage it.

49% of tech pros respondents confirmed the acceleration of hybrid IT has increased the complexity of their organization’s IT management.

These tech pros reported the following top drivers of increased complexity:

  • Fragmentation between legacy technologies and new technologies (43%)
  • Increased technology requirements from multiple departments (42%)
  • New tools and/or technologies (38%)
  • Maintenance of a legacy technology stack (38%)

Interestingly, 59% of small businesses surveyed indicated increased technology requirements from multiple departments were the leading cause for increased complexity, compared to 40% of their mid-size and 37% of their enterprise counterparts.

When asked about how confident tech pros were in their organization’s ability to manage IT complexity:

  • Only 8% of tech pro respondents said they felt extremely confident.
  • 36% of respondents admitted they weren’t fully equipped to manage complexity and felt only somewhat confident.
  • 50% of tech pro respondents were confident their organization is equipped to manage IT complexity adequately.
  • An additional 4% weren’t confident at all.

When tech pros’ level of confidence is considered by business size, confidence levels increased among small business respondents:

  • Nearly two-thirds of small business tech pros said they’re confident (52%) or extremely confident (12%) in managing IT complexity.
  • Meanwhile, large enterprises experienced the lowest level of confidence, with only 47% of respondents saying they’re confident and 36% saying they’re somewhat confident.

A particular area of concern among respondents is visibility. With the increased shift to complex, hybrid IT environments, technology professionals say they have limited visibility into their networks, apps, and infrastructure.

When asked about current IT monitoring/management strategies, 49% of respondents stated they only have visibility into about half or less of their apps and infrastructure.

By business size, 46% of small business and enterprise tech pro respondents indicated their organization provides visibility into most of their apps and infrastructure compared to only 38% of their mid-size counterparts.

Anomaly detection (63%), easy root-cause analysis (60%), and the ability to gather metrics from disparate systems (57%) were revealed as the top three aspects lacking from respondents who felt their current IT monitoring/management strategies provide visibility into less than half of their apps and infrastructure strategy.

Organizations’ lack of insight into their networks impacts ROI.

54% of respondents agreed return on investment (ROI) was impacted during an IT project they oversaw in the past 12 – 18 months due to increased hybrid IT complexity.

  • Twenty-one percent of respondents said the IT project in question took an additional four to seven months or more to complete.
  • Twenty-eight percent said the project in question was extended by up to three months.

By business size, a larger percentage of small business tech pro respondents (19%) indicated a shorter delay of one to four weeks to achieve expected ROI when compared to their mid-size (6%) and enterprise counterparts (11%).

Overcoming IT complexity obstacles and improving ROI will be difficult, with budget and time constraints looming.

Respondents say the largest barriers to improving visibility and implementing observability as an IT strategy are:

  • Time constraints (48%)
  • Lack of resources (43%)
  • Lack of budget (41%)

28% of all tech pro respondents reported they have no insight into their overall IT budget.

Interestingly, as business size increases, the percentage of tech respondents who viewed lack of budget as a barrier decreases.

  • 52% of small business tech pros report budget as a barrier, as compared to 47% and 32% for their mid-size and enterprise counterparts.

As it relates to planned investment in IT management tools over the next 12 months:

  • 53% of tech pros responded their organization plans to invest less than 20% of the overall IT budget.
  • 19% indicated their organization will invest 20% or more.

As business size increases, the percentage of tech pros stating their organization will invest less than 20% of their overall IT budget on IT management tools within the next 12 months decreases.

  • The percentage of tech pros indicating their organization plans to invest 20% or more remains consistent across small, mid-size, and enterprise.

There is a planned lack of investment despite 54% of respondents saying the best solution to manage increased complexity is to adopt IT management tools.

75% of tech pro respondents state their organization has prioritized adopting a hybrid IT strategy for their technology environment within the next three years.

The biggest areas of impact respondents expect to see if their organizations implemented these IT management tools would be:

  • Improved security (53%)
  • Heightened performance of apps (40%)
  • Improved end-user/customer experience (35%)
  • Faster response and repair times for errors and downtime (35%)

Other strategies respondents mentioned as important to help to meet complexity issues include:

  • Training staff and upskilling (56%)
  • Adopting IT monitoring/ management tools (54%)
  • Investing in automation tools (38%)
  • Outsourcing IT services (32%)

When asked to select the top ways their organization’s experience with IT management complexity has influenced future technology investments:

  • 41% of tech pro respondents selected providing access to skills development training, and
  • An additional 33% selected new roles/hiring specialists and increasing/ramping up investments.

By business size, a larger percentage of small business tech pro respondents selected providing access to skills development training (50%) compared to their larger counterparts (40%).

  • Likewise, a larger percentage of enterprise tech pros indicated their organization is increasing/ramping up investments (45%) compared to their smaller counterparts (19%).

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