Hybrid IT acceleration has increased network complexity finds SolarWinds

Sudhakar Ramakrishna, SolarWinds President and Chief Executive Officer
Sudhakar Ramakrishna, President and Chief Executive Officer at SolarWinds

SolarWinds, a provider of simple, powerful, and secure IT management software, released the findings of its ninth annual IT Trends Report. The SolarWinds IT Trends Report 2022—Getting IT Right: Managing Hybrid IT Complexity, 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 and caused several challenges for IT experts.

What is the impact of hybrid work on IT environments?

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

According to a report by IDC, as more mission-critical workloads move to connected cloud architectures that span public, private, hybrid, and multi-cloud environments, enterprises recognise they need to invest in the tools that will help them ensure consistent policies.

However, they face challenges such as budget, time constraints, and barriers to implementing observability as a strategy to keep pace with hybrid IT realities. The new SolarWinds report also found tech professionals feel less confident in their firm’s ability to manage IT.

While nearly half (44%) of tech pro respondents state they leverage monitoring strategies to manage this complexity, 55% of the respondents revealed they lack visibility into the majority of their organisation’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.

What are the executive’s thoughts on the research?

“Operational complexity prevents organisations from capitalising on their technology-driven transformation and investments and delivering benefits for end users,” said Sudhakar Ramakrishna, president and CEO, SolarWinds commenting on the findings of the survey.

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

“Observability is 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. Firms 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.”

What were the findings of SolarWinds’ study?

Hybrid IT driving more complexity

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

  • One quarter (25%) of tech pros responded the acceleration of hybrid IT has increased the complexity of their organisation’s IT management.
  • These tech pros reported the following top drivers of increased complexity:
  • Interestingly, a larger percentage of mid-size tech pros indicated fragmentation between legacy technologies and new technologies (71%) as their top cause compared to small business (30%) and enterprise tech pros (44%) counterparts
  • When asked how confident they were in their firm’s ability to manage IT complexity:
    • Less than one fifth (17%) of tech pro respondents said they felt extremely confident
    • A bit under one-third of respondents (31%) admitted they weren’t fully equipped to manage complexity and felt only somewhat confident
    • Less than half of tech pro respondents (44%) were confident their organisation is equipped to manage IT complexity adequately
    • An additional 6% weren’t confident at all
  • When tech pros’ level of confidence is considered by business size, confidence levels increased among small business respondents:
    • Nearly one-third (28%) of small business tech pros said they’re extremely confident in managing IT complexity compared to their enterprise counterparts (13%)
    • Meanwhile, large enterprises experienced the lowest level of confidence, with only 38% of respondents saying they’re somewhat confident

Visibility is a growing concern

A particular area of concern is visibility. With the increased shift to hybrid IT environments, tech experts say they have limited visibility into their networks, apps, and infrastructure.

  • When asked about current IT monitoring/management strategies, 55% of respondents stated they only have visibility into about half or less of their apps and infrastructure.
  • By business size, 41% of enterprise tech pro respondents indicated their organisation provides visibility into most of their apps and infrastructure compared to only 35% of their mid-size and 39% of their small-business-sized counterparts.
    • Anomaly detection (57%), correlated alerts (57%), and the ability to gather metrics from disparate systems (49%) 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.

Organisations’ lack of insight into their networks impacts ROI

  • Most respondents (77%) 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.
    • Thirty-three percent of respondents said the IT project in question took an additional four to seven months or more to complete
    • Forty-three percent said the project in question was extended by up to three months
  • By business size, a larger percentage of mid-size tech pro respondents (31%) indicated a shorter delay of one to four weeks to achieve expected ROI when compared to their small business (11%) and enterprise counterparts (14%).

Overcoming IT complexity obstacles and improving ROI will be difficult

  • The largest barriers to improving visibility and implementing observability are:
    • Time constraints (40%)
    • Siloed teams (40%)
    • Lack of budget (37%)
      • 14% of 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 remains consistent
    • 39% of small business tech pros report budget as a barrier, as compared to 38% and 39% for their mid-size and enterprise counterparts.
  • As it relates to planned investment in IT management tools over the next 12 months:
    • Three quarters (76%) of tech pros responded their organisation plans to invest less than 20% of overall IT budget
    • Only one-tenth indicated their organisation will invest 20% or more
    • The percentage of tech pros indicating their organisation plans to invest 20% or more increases with business size, with 19% of enterprise tech pros investing more than 20% of their overall IT budget in IT management tools compared to their midsized (5%) and small business (9%) counterparts

A need to adopt IT management tools

There is a planned lack of investment despite the fact almost half of respondents (44%) said the best solution to manage increased complexity is to adopt IT management tools.

  • More than half (62%) of tech pro respondents state their organisation has prioritised adopting a hybrid IT strategy for their tech environment within the next three years.
  • The biggest areas of impact respondents expect to see if their organisations implemented these IT management tools would be:
    • Increased productivity (41%)
    • Improved security (40%)
    • Cost optimisation which drives budget savings (36%)
    • Improved end-user/customer experience (36%)
  • Other strategies mentioned as vital to help to meet complexity issues include:
    • Training staff and upskilling (46%)
    • Adopting IT monitoring/management tools (44%)
    • Planning to reduce/consolidate/modernise cloud systems (44%)
  • When asked to select the top ways their organisation’s experience with IT management complexity has influenced future technology investments:
    • 46% of tech pro respondents selected providing access to skills development training
    • An additional 40% selected new roles/hiring specialists and ramping up investments.
  • A larger percentage of mid-sized business tech pros selected providing access to skills development training (55%) compared to their enterprise-sized counterparts (38%).
    • Likewise, a larger percentage of mid-sized tech pros indicated their firm is ramping up investments (51%) compared to their enterprise-sized counterparts (34%).

What was the research methodology?

Please visit the SolarWinds IT Trends Index, a dynamic web experience exploring the study’s additional insights into the data broken down by region into charts, graphs, and socially shareable elements. Like previous IT Trends Reports, this year’s study features an interactive component where visitors to the web experience can see how they compare to the results.

The findings of this year’s Australian report are based on a survey fielded in March 2022, which yielded responses from 177 technology practitioners, managers, directors, and senior executives in Australia from public- and private-sector small, mid-size, and enterprise firms.

All regions studied in 2022, as reported on the SolarWinds IT Trends Index, were North America, Australia, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore, the Middle East, and the United Kingdom, with 1,138 respondents across all geographies combined.