The SolarWinds IT Trends Report 2018 reveals containers are a top investment priority today over technology like artificial intelligence.
SolarWinds has released the findings of its annual state-of-the-industry study. The new study reveals the state of today’s IT landscape: IT professionals are continuing to prioritise investments in cloud computing as they grapple with how to leverage the benefits of emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. A juxtaposition of the findings with other independent research also suggests a misalignment between the IT investment priorities of the practitioners surveyed and their leaders.
The IT Trends Report 2018: The Intersection of Hype and Performance, the company’s annual report on IT trends, explores the spectrum of today’s existing and emerging technologies, and the extent to which they are disrupting IT and optimising the performance of environments as organisations progress in their digital transformation journeys.
Overall, U.K. IT professionals are prioritising investments in cloud computing and hybrid IT more than any other technology; 95 percent of respondents indicate that cloud/hybrid IT are one of the top five most important technologies to their organisation’s IT strategy today. By contrast, just two years ago, over one-third of IT professionals indicated, as part of the SolarWinds IT Trends Report 2016: The Hybrid IT Evolution, that cloud computing was somewhat important or not important at all. While AI and machine learning (ML) are not currently the highest priorities for IT professionals, optimising cloud/hybrid IT environments creates a critical pathway to eventually deploy and capture the compelling benefits of these emerging technologies.
However, the rapid adoption of new technologies has created environments that are not optimised for peak performance. Nearly half (42 percent) of the survey respondents indicate their environments are not optimised and reported spending 50 percent or more of their time reactively maintaining and troubleshooting. In increasing numbers, IT professionals appear to be addressing the challenges introduced by the cloud and hybrid IT through investment in containers: 49 percent of respondents ranked containers as one of the most important technology priorities today, a significant jump in adoption when compared to the SolarWinds IT Trends Report 2017: Portrait of a Hybrid IT Organisation, in which just 15 percent of IT professionals planned to develop containerisation skills in the year ahead.
At the same time, IT professional respondents also cite inadequate organisational strategy (43 percent) and training (42 percent) as common barriers to system optimisation. Ultimately, to keep pace with changing environments and achieve successful digital transformation, today’s IT professionals require new skill sets and deeper strategic collaboration with business leaders.
“The narrative in today’s IT industry revolves around transformative technologies like AI, machine learning, blockchain, and more. These technologies are unquestionably important, but the results of this year’s study reveal that IT professionals are still prioritising investments in technologies that help run day-to-day operations, and choosing initiatives that deliver more immediate value,” said Joe Kim, executive vice president and global chief technology officer, SolarWinds. “The SolarWinds IT Trends Report 2018 shows IT professionals are focusing in on proven technologies that deliver value today, like cloud and containers, with an eye toward AI for tomorrow.”
“This is how most IT professionals currently are optimising their environments to help unlock additional performance for their organisations,” he added.
2018 Key Findings
The SolarWinds IT Trends Report 2018: The Intersection of Hype and Performance explores IT professionals’ view about what is happening in their technology worlds, and how their organisations are prioritising existing and emerging technologies. Key findings show that:
Cloud computing and hybrid IT will remain IT professionals’ top priority for the next five years, as these elements meet today’s business needs while serving as the backbone to trends like ML and AI.
95 percent of IT professionals surveyed indicate that cloud and/or hybrid IT are one of the top five most important technologies in their IT organisation’s technology strategy today, with 66 percent listing cloud/hybrid IT as their number one most important technology.When ranking the most important technologies today and for digital transformation over the next three to five years, as well as technologies with the greatest potential to provide productivity/efficiency benefits and ROI, IT professionals ranked cloud and/or hybrid IT as number one across the board (by weighted rank). Automation ranked as the number two priority across the board in these same categories (by weighted rank).IT professionals ranked big data analytics as the number three priority across the board in these same categories (by weighted rank).
At the same time, IT professionals are prioritising internal investments in containers as a proven solution to the challenges of cloud computing and hybrid IT and a key enabler of innovation.
49 percent of respondents ranked containers as the most important technology priority today, and 44 percent of respondents ranked containers as the most important technology priority three to five years from now. The ability for container deployments to simplify application challenges introduced by hybrid IT has caused IT professionals’ investment in container technology to skyrocket in the last 12 months. According to the 2017 SolarWinds IT Trends Report: Portrait of a Hybrid IT Organisation, only 15 percent of respondents had planned to develop containerisation skills in the year ahead.
Concurrently, AI and ML investments are expected to increase in importance over the next three to five years.
· 42 per cent of respondents indicate AI is the biggest priority and 35 per cent of respondents indicate ML is the biggest priority three to five years from now (compared to 25 per cent and 23 per cent today, respectively).
· Cloud service providers such as Amazon Web Services™ and Microsoft® Azure® are investing heavily in AI technologies and capabilities, which presents an opportunity for IT professionals to leverage existing investment in cloud offerings to experiment with and deploy AI-based services in their organisations.
The results of the IT Trends Survey suggest a dissonance between the views of IT professionals and their senior managers on priorities for IT investment over the next three to five years.
· On the weighted list of technologies IT professionals believe are needed for an IT organisation’s digital transformation over the next three to five years, AI—while gaining in importance—did not even make the top five.
o Enterprises see AI and ML (81 per cent) and process automation and robotics (82 per cent) as important C-suite directives toward operations strategy—higher than any priority other than cost reduction (HFS Research).
o As AI and machine learning continue to mature, IT professionals will be required to have a fundamental understanding of these technologies and their capabilities to act as an educated liaison for business leadership when it comes time to consider the benefits of adoption.
While IT professionals continue prioritising cloud computing and hybrid IT, adoption of these technologies has made it challenging to optimise performance of their systems and applications.
56 per cent of IT professionals surveyed indicated that by weighted rank, cloud/hybrid IT is the greatest challenge when it comes to implementation, rollout, and day-to-day performance. Automation and big data analytics follow closely behind.Nearly two-thirds (59 percent) of all IT professionals surveyed think that their IT environments are not operating at optimal levels. Over half of all IT pros surveyed spend less than 25 percent of their time proactively optimising performance, and only 3 per cent of IT professionals spend 75 percent or more of their time doing so. This echoes findings from the 2017 SolarWinds IT Trends Report: Portrait of a Hybrid IT Organisation, in which 22 percent of IT pros surveyed who migrated critical applications and infrastructure to the cloud ultimately brought back/left area(s) on-premises due to security concerns, budget, and performance issues.
Many IT professionals cite inadequate infrastructure and lack of organisational strategy as the most common barriers to system optimisation.
· IT professionals who indicate that their environments are not optimised (42 per cent) pointed to inadequate infrastructure as one of the top three barriers to achieving optimisation, followed closely by inadequate organisational strategy (by weighted rank).
o To achieve true performance and work toward a successful digital transformation, IT professionals require deeper strategic collaboration with business leaders.