Closing the skills gap: making the most of hybrid IT
Closing the skills gap: making the most of hybrid IT

It is no big secret that the cloud, and all that it can enable, has recently dominated IT conversations. Witness all the revenue that AWS® Cloud brings in for Amazon® and Azure®  brings in for Microsoft®.

In brief, cloud services are able to facilitate a more agile and connected work environment. These services improve productivity, empower employees with flexible working—allowing them to sign on remotely with personal devices—and, in some instances, enable operational scalability. Organisations have thus been under significant pressure to integrate cloud services to keep pace with competitors and prepare for the future. 

For organisations looking to incorporate a mix of existing on-premises applications and cloud services (a hybrid IT model), successfully integrating and managing the two environments' efficacy is crucial to ensuring that internal business operations remain on track. However, IT professionals responsible for hybrid integration and management are challenged with a task that they are struggling to fulfil. 

Hybrid cloud adoption has increased the roles and responsibilities for IT professionals. It requires them to manage both on-premises and off-premises application stacks. Furthermore, managing these newly-adopted networks requires skillsets that many do not currently possess. 

Factor in the relationship of working with external cloud service providers (CSPs) to deliver acceptable application quality of service (QoS) and the confusion regarding the role of the IT professional, and the world of hybrid IT becomes cloudy. To successfully manage hybrid IT environments, it is vital that issues and incidents are quickly identified and resolved.

Develop new skills
The latest SolarWinds IT Trends Report looks at the UK's adoption of hybrid IT, and sheds light on the significant impact that this new service delivery model has had within organisations and IT departments. Of all the challenges that have surfaced as a result of hybrid IT introduction, 58 percent of the surveyed IT professionals cited the skills gap in their top five. There is evidently a widespread disparity between the skills required to manage hybrid IT environments, and the skills currently possessed by those responsible for doing so.

Hybrid IT environments demand that IT professionals evolve existing tech skills while acquiring new ones, so it is paramount that those tasked with managing these systems continue to learn to keep pace. Embracing monitoring as a discipline provides the foundation for rigor and consistency in the management process. Monitoring as a discipline consists of discovery, alerting, remediation, troubleshooting, security, optimisation, automation and reporting skills. These skills empower IT professionals to manage with confidence across the entire application stack regardless of location.

A single point of truth

Moving from an environment solely hosted through on-premises infrastructure services to hybrid IT introduces some complexities that cannot be resolved by learning new skills. Within hybrid IT environments, IT professionals are required to work with CSPs to manage the overall application performance and health. IT professionals consequently suffer from decreased visibility into the services provided by cloud. This directly impacts their ability to quickly resolve issues such as slow application response times. 

Oftentimes when applications break or slow in hybrid IT environments, the lines of responsibility for troubleshooting and remediating become blurred for IT. The troubleshooting radius is large, which increases the troubleshooting area. In addition, there are more stakeholders across the multiple stacks, which complicates the process of understanding, troubleshooting and remediating incidents. The troubleshooting process becomes inefficient and time consuming.

Adopting a management and monitoring toolset that offers visibility across all platforms and surfaces the single point of truth in the hybrid IT environment solves these issues by introducing clarity and transparency to increasingly opaque hybrid IT environments. Baseline performance and time series data trends inform on the application's performance and health, which provide IT professionals powerful insights into their applications' behaviours. Visibility across an environment helps to build trust with CSPs and enables issues to be identified and resolved with greater ease.

Maximise the benefits of hybrid IT
The hybrid IT architecture helps organisations optimise an application's resource and performance while enabling scalability, agility, and availability. For example, IT pros are given the opportunity to select best-in-class services and then scale to suit business requirements. However, while hybrid IT environments offer a plethora of choice, convenience, and scalable strategy, the complexities it introduces cannot be ignored.

To realise the full benefits of a hybrid IT, organisations need to leverage a comprehensive monitoring solution and a foundational set of skills like the DART framework (discover, alert, remediate, and troubleshoot) and SOAR framework (secure, optimise, alert, and report). 

By applying the DART-SOAR frameworks, IT professionals can address many of the challenges posed by hybrid IT from preparing for future service integrations and deliveries by quickly surfacing the single point of truths in their hybrid IT environment. Closing the skills gap with DART-SOAR enables a successful hybrid IT environment, which helps your organisation overcome tech debt, reduce tech inertia, and retire tech legacy. 

Contributed by Kong Yang, head geek, SolarWinds.

*Note: The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of SC Media UK or Haymarket Media.