The State of ITOps: Digital Transformation, Technical Debt and Budgets

    As IT continues to evolve the one thing that is becoming increasingly apparent is IT operations teams are becoming overwhelmed. In addition to managing multiple local data centers, it’s not uncommon for IT teams to find themselves also managing one or more public cloud computing environments.

    Making matters even more challenging, more application workloads are being deployed at the network edge. The enterprise IT environment, from a management perspective, is becoming over extended. There are simply not enough IT professionals with the advanced skills required to manage and secure these environments at scale. 

    IT has never been more critical as organizations embrace a wide range of digital business process transformation initiatives. However, the pace at which IT is being consumed is outpacing the ability of many internal IT teams to keep pace.

    A survey of 400 IT leaders at organizations with more than 1,000 employees highlights the extent of the problem. Conducted by Sapio Research on behalf of Prosimo, a provider of a platform for unifying the management of cloud networks, the survey finds nearly half (47%) of respondents report it has become impossible to keep up with the diversity of the application and user landscape. 

    While there is no shortage of tools to manage IT environments, the problem is that each platform has its own unique set of management tools that need to be deployed. As a result, the total cost of IT tends to increase with each new platform added because another IT specialist needs to be hired to master the tool. 

    “The tools that are being used are super complex,” said Mehul Patel, head of marketing for Prosimo.

    Adding insult to injury, IT teams then find themselves trying to discover the root cause of an issue by convening a “war room” to compare analysis surfaced by a dozen or more IT monitoring tools that often surface conflicting insights. It can take weeks to resolve an issue that once discovered only takes a few minutes to fix.

    Also read: Networking’s Future is in the Distributed Cloud

    Technical Debt

    A big part of the problem IT operations teams face every day is that as new platforms are added legacy application environments are not retired. This so-called “technical debt” limits the ability of organizations to add new platforms to their IT environments simply because they lack the tools and skills required to manage them. A global survey of 500 IT leaders conducted by OutSystems, a provider of a low-code platform for building applications, finds 69% of respondents view technical debt as a threat to their ability to innovate.

    That rate of technical debt only accelerates as organizations deploy new applications without replacing any other existing ones. The biggest issue is that it’s often difficult to convince business leaders to modernize an existing business process they perceive to be working just fine. Most of their focus is on adding additional processes that drive additional revenue opportunities versus making the overall business more efficient. 

    There needs to be a lot more focus on reducing technical debt to manage IT at scale than it is today, says OutSystems CEO Paulo Rosado. “Technical debt tends to accelerate as the frequency of change made to IT environments increases,” he adds.

    Technical debt will never be completely eradicated, but it can be more aggressively contained, adds Rosado.

    In the absence of an unlimited amount of IT labor, organizations have begun to invest more in automation. This spans everything from best DevOps practices to next-generation observability tools that promise to provide more context to artificial intelligence (AI) platforms that leverage machine learning algorithms to augment internal IT teams. 

    At the same time, organizations are looking to employ consoles that make it possible to centralize the management of multiple clouds within the context of a larger hybrid cloud computing strategy. The challenge is that each of these solutions requires time, money, and effort to implement while the pace at which new applications are being added to IT environments continues to accelerate.

    Also read: Best Managed IT Service Providers 2021

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    Harnessing ITOps Budgets

    Each organization will need to find a way to come to terms with their current IT limitations. Curtailing investments in IT is not an option because most companies are now locked in an IT arms race with new and existing rivals. A lack of investment in modern IT could easily put an organization at a competitive disadvantage that results in it being acquired at a lower valuation. At the same time, organizations need to contain the amount of budget dollars that IT is consuming as a percentage of their overall revenue.

    The current IT operations crisis didn’t just occur; it’s been building for years. The difference now is that as more organizations realize how dependent they are now on IT to run their business, many issues that have been long overlooked are now coming to a head and can no longer be ignored.  

     Read next: The Growing Relevance of Hyperautomation in ITOps

    Mike Vizard
    Mike Vizard
    Michael Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist, with nearly 30 years of experience writing and editing about enterprise IT issues. He is a contributor to publications including Programmableweb, IT Business Edge, CIOinsight and UBM Tech. He formerly was editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise, where he launched the company’s custom content division, and has also served as editor in chief for CRN and InfoWorld. He also has held editorial positions at PC Week, Computerworld and Digital Review.

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