IT departments face five major challenges with hybrid environments

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Across all industries, organizations are shifting to hybrid IT environments, introducing cloud native technologies alongside their on premises applications and infrastructure.

But even as increasing numbers of IT teams leverage the capabilities of no code and low code platforms to accelerate their speed to innovation, there is a growing understanding that on-premises technologies will continue to play a vital role within most organizations. Certainly, from recent conversations we’ve been having with customers, technologists expect to be managing hybrid environments for many years to come.

However, the move to hybrid environments is presenting serious challenges to IT departments. Research that we’ve recently conducted at Cisco AppDynamics reveals how technologists are encountering soaring levels of complexity across an increasingly fragmented and volatile IT estate.

In The Age of Application Observability report, IT leaders point to an urgent need to adopt the right approaches and implement the right tools to overcome this complexity. The consequences of failing to act quickly could be disastrous for their organizations - lost customers, revenue and reputation. Above all else, the research reveals how technologists now consider application observability as critical to deliver seamless digital experiences to customers and employees, and to validate their investments in innovation.

Hybrid complexity is threatening end user experience and eroding morale in the IT department.

The research uncovers five major challenges that hybrid environments are presenting within IT departments.

Ronak Desai

Ronak Desai is the Senior Vice President and General Manager of Cisco AppDynamics and Full-Stack Observability.

1. Increased vulnerability to security threats

Technologists point to expanded attack surfaces as the biggest challenge in managing hybrid environments, with 89% reporting that their organization is becoming more vulnerable to cybersecurity threats. With application components running across a mix of cloud native platforms and on-premises databases, visibility gaps are being exposed and the risk of a security event is rising.

2. Poor application performance impacting customers and employees

Adoption of cloud native technologies means that microservices and containers are spawning massive volumes of metrics, events, logs and traces (MELT) data - something which most IT teams aren’t able to handle.

78% of technologists report that the increased volume of data from hybrid environments is making manual monitoring impossible. They don’t have a way to cut through the data noise to quickly detect issues and understand root causes, and they don’t have a clear line of sight of the entire application path across hybrid environments. As a result, it's becoming extremely difficult to troubleshoot issues.

Ultimately, this means that there is now a much greater risk of applications suffering from disruption and downtime, and customers and employees not getting the seamless, always-on digital experiences they expect.

3. A worrying slowdown in innovation

While adoption of no code and low code platforms is enabling organizations to develop and launch applications and digital services at high speed, technologists are concerned that the current pace of innovation within their organization isn’t sustainable.

Heightened complexity means that IT teams are unable to effectively manage and optimize new applications, nor do they have the time to focus on strategic priorities.

Crucially, IT leaders don’t have the right level of insight to measure and demonstrate how digital transformation is delivering business value. With 81% of technologists reporting that they are coming under pressure to validate the impact of their cloud investments, this could become a major sticking point and reduce the speed of future innovation.

4. Reduced efficiency and productivity within IT teams

Over recent years, new teams such as Site Reliability Engineers (SREs), DevOps and CloudOps have emerged within IT departments to facilitate adoption of cloud native technologies. Within many organizations, these teams are seemingly operating in complete isolation, with their own processes, cultures and data.

This is causing major problems, with 80% of technologists reporting an increase in silos between IT teams as a result of managing hybrid environments. And these silos are now having a damaging effect on productivity.

5. An exodus of IT talent

The increase in complexity caused by the move to hybrid environments is putting massive pressure onto all technologists, whatever their team or discipline. They’re having to operate in firefighting mode because they don’t have the tools and visibility they need to do their jobs properly.

Technologists are becoming increasingly frustrated as friction between IT teams continues to escalate. And there is now a very real risk that this could lead to a talent exodus. 36% of technologists report that silos and ineffective collaboration are already resulting in IT talent leaving their organization, and 46% believe that churn within their IT department will increase if silos persist.

Application observability is now a strategic priority for organizations

IT leaders need to act quickly and decisively to address this complexity challenge. They can’t afford any slip ups when it comes to application performance; nor can they afford to see their best IT talent walking away in droves.

The starting point has to be a shift from traditional application monitoring approaches to observability. By implementing an application observability solution which has the flexibility to span across both cloud native and on-premises applications, IT leaders can ensure their technologists have full and unified visibility across their hybrid environments.

Crucially, with application observability, IT teams can correlate IT data with real-time business metrics to identify and prioritize those issues which have the potential to do most damage to end user experience. Technologists can regain control, taking a more proactive approach to innovation, working more collaboratively with other teams and developing new skills.

Over recent months, we’ve seen a big shift in the numbers of organizations - from across all industries - that are recognizing the need for application observability to manage their hybrid IT environments. In fact, our research finds that it is now a strategic priority for 85% of organizations.

IT leaders urgently need to develop and execute a holistic strategy for application observability, implementing the tools, culture and working practices which can cut through complexity and bring their IT teams together around a shared vision for innovation.

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Ronak Desai is the Senior Vice President and General Manager of Cisco AppDynamics and Full-Stack Observability.