Public sector organizations are feeling the pains of digital transformation. Faced with modernization, data center upgrades and continuous cloud-first initiatives, this transformation of the IT environment is making it a challenge to deliver services, comply with service level agreements (SLAs), meet citizens’ expectations and achieve organizational missions.
The evidence is clear from a research study conducted by the Ponemon Institute and sponsored by Splunk of 736 decision makers in federal & department of defense IT Operations.
Challenges & Trends in Federal & Department of Defense: the United States reveals that digital transformation is well underway with budgets shifting from traditional on premise investments to more cloud and agile development paradigms.
This shift in the IT environment, while being embraced, has led to an overall loss of confidence in federal and DoD operations and is evidenced in respondents’ lack of confidence in their organizations’ ability to accomplish the following:
- Have the people with the right skills to “get the job one”
- Ensure performance and availability of systems to meet SLAs consistently
- Manage data center upgrades
- Perform IT operations efficiently
- Migrate workloads and applications to the cloud
Research findings explain the reasons for the loss of confidence. These include skills gap among existing resources, according to 71 percent of respondents. Respondents also cite silos of IT systems and technologies and an inability to integrate them (71 percent of respondents) and complexity and diversity of IT systems and technology (67 percent of respondents).
Even with monitoring and data analytics in place, these tools are disconnected from each other and most respondents believe they are ineffective at helping quickly pinpoint issues and determine root cause (78 percent of respondents) because they do not offer end-to-end visibility.
Respondents also say that a lack of collaboration across teams and not enough data fidelity and
context are challenges to timely issue resolutions. Such challenges also affect organizations’ ability to quickly and efficiently respond to system outages and interruptions.
On average, it takes 42 hours and 12 staff members to restore the IT system to operational status following a system outage or interruption.
Despite the loss of confidence, respondents do see a silver lining in the transformation of their IT operations. According to respondents, the move to DevOps (development and operations) is making it easier to deliver quality services on time and within budget. To support the transformation, organizations are shifting spending from on premise to cloud computing, DevOps and new technologies.
Respondents also recognize that machine learning capabilities (27 percent), better network visibility across the entire organization (26 percent) and better enforcement of current policies and regulations (26 percent) can improve their organizations’ IT operations. Respondents are also increasingly aware of the types of data available and how such data can be used across
operational silos to reduce risks to their organizations.
Following are key findings from this research:
Confidence in current IT operations is lower than it was 12 months ago. The primary reasons for this change are not having the staff with the right skills “to get the job done”, the inability to ensure performance and ability to ensure performance and availability of systems to meet SLAs and inability to manage data center upgrades.
The confidence gap seems to stem from a skills gap, silos and complexity. Respondents believe that the greatest difficulties in carrying out their duties arise from a skills gap among existing resources (71 percent of respondents), silos of IT systems and technologies and a lack of ability to integrate them (71 percent of respondents) and complexity and diversity of IT systems and technology (67 percent of respondents).
Machine learning capabilities, visibility and enforcement of policies are seen as critical to improving IT operations. Out of a list of five options of the most effective way to strengthen IT operations, 27 percent of respondents believe that machine learning capabilities would be most effective. Better network visibility across the entire organization and better enforcement of current policies and regulations would strengthen IT operations (both 26 percent of respondents).
Spending on cloud operations and DevOps will grow significantly while on-premise spending dwindles. Almost one-half of respondents (49 percent) say that spending on cloud operations and 48 percent of respondents say DevOps will grow over the next year, while only 31 percent say that on-premise spending would do the same.
Alerts still remain too numerous and erroneous, and current event monitoring tools are not solving the problem. More than half of respondents say they still receive too many alerts (52 percent) and that those alerts generate too many false positives (55 percent). Seventy-eight percent of respondents are unsure or do not think that their current crop of analytics and monitoring tools are helping them pinpoint problems and determine root causes because they lack end-to-end visibility.
The challenges and risks described in this research result in inefficient response to system outages and interruptions. According to 65 percent of respondents, their organizations lack a consistent and formal IT outage response process. On average, it takes 42 hours and 12 staff members to restore the IT system to operational status following a system outage and interruption.
Will IT and security converge? More than two-thirds of respondents (73 percent) do not believe or are unsure if their security and IT operations will converge in the future.
Is it possible to use the same data sets across the organization to solve problems? Sixty-four percent of respondents are unsure or don’t think the data sets they are using can solve multiple challenges such as IT troubleshooting, service monitoring, security and business/mission analytics. Similarly, 66 percent of respondents are doubtful the same data can be used throughout the organization.