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Lack of security and skills halting adoption of hybrid IT

Security concerns and IT skills shortages are hindering the full potential of hybrid IT management in Australia, according to a new study by SolarWinds.

According to the IT Trends Report 2016: The Hybrid IT Evolution, the vast majority of Australian businesses have shifted away from on-premises-only infrastructure to hybrid IT environments, creating new management concerns, dominated by security, and pressures for IT professionals on skills and resources.

“The findings of this year's study paint a clear picture: cloud adoption is nearly ubiquitous, but it's not now and will not in the foreseeable future be suitable for all workloads, and even if it were, very few if any businesses would convert all of their existing applications to run in the cloud.” says Joel Dolisy, SolarWinds CIO.

“The resulting dynamic - one set of critical on-premises services connected with another set of services in the cloud - is hybrid IT. And at the centre of this evolution is the IT professional who needs to ensure always-on performance of applications, devices, networks and systems - regardless of location.

“They need to be empowered with the support to gain the skills and tools required to properly and securely manage hybrid IT environments, which in turn will allow businesses to truly unlock the potential of the cloud,” he says.

According to SolarWinds, IT infrastructures have evolved from traditional on-premises-only to a hybrid strategy that links internal and external IT services driven by the existence of the cloud.

In fact, nearly all (95%) of the IT professionals surveyed say adopting cloud technologies is important to their organisations' long-term business success; 38% saying it is extremely important.

However, only 53% estimate that half or more of their organisations' total IT infrastructure will be in the cloud within the next 3-5 years, and 61% say it is unlikely that all of their organisations' infrastructure will ever be migrated to the cloud. Overall, only 5% say their organisations have not migrated any infrastructure to the cloud, compared to 11% in 2015.

According to SolarWinds, IT professionals are faced with a dual mandate: increase efficiency through cloud services while also ensuring critical systems, databases and applications are secure.

The survey finds the top three hybrid IT benefits by weighted rank are increased infrastructure flexibility/agility, infrastructure cost-reduction and eliminating responsibility for maintenance of underlying infrastructure, respectively.

The majority of IT professionals (58%) say that security is the biggest challenge associated with managing current hybrid IT environments.

Overall, the top three barriers to greater cloud adoption by weighted rank are security/compliance concerns, the need to support legacy systems and the work required to move existing infrastructure, respectively.

When it comes to migration, 71% say they have already migrated applications to the cloud, the top answer, followed by storage (40%) and databases (31).

The top three areas of infrastructure with the highest priority for continued or future migration by weighted rank are applications, storage and databases, respectively.

SolarWinds finds that IT professionals require new skills, tools and resources to successfully drive the hybrid IT migration forward and enable their organisations to better meet business objectives, the survey finds.

Only 32% are certain their IT organisations currently have adequate resources to manage a hybrid IT environment.

The top five skills needed to better manage hybrid IT environments are hybrid IT monitoring/management tools and metrics (53%), automation (47%), application migration (40%), distributed architectures (37%) and vendor management (35%).

Over half (56%) indicated they have the level of support needed from leadership and the organisation as a whole to develop/improve the skills they feel they need in order to better manage hybrid IT environments.

Dolisy added: “Bring-your-own-device and now the Internet of Things have added and continue to add hundreds of thousands of new devices to corporate systems, and as illustrated in this year's report, IT is also evolving from traditional on-premises-only infrastructure to the hybrid strategy driven by the existence of the cloud.

“In short, IT is everywhere. Effectively managing and monitoring the new environment - from on-premises to the cloud with multiplying endpoints - to be able to act when needed is more critical now than ever.

The findings of SolarWind's 2016 report are based on a survey fielded in December 2015, which yielded responses from 163 Australian IT practitioners, managers and directors from public and private sector small, mid-size and enterprise companies.

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