There is a dramatic shift underway in the federal technology landscape on a scale rarely seen more than once every decade or so. Computing environments are evolving from traditional on-premises-only to a hybrid strategy that migrates some infrastructure to the cloud, while keeping some critical systems onsite.
According to SolarWinds’ IT Trends Report 2016: The Hybrid IT Evolution, which includes a survey of government IT professionals, hybrid IT will continue to be the norm for the foreseeable future.
What does this mean for federal IT pros? Will it mean a re-invention of sorts?
At a conceptual level, it means understanding a new normal and how best to operate within this hybrid environment. On a practical level, it means learning how to align current skillsets with new requirements and, just as important, integrating new expertise such as hybrid IT monitoring and management, data analytics, automation, and cloud application migration with existing skill sets.
Understanding the New Normal
A hybrid IT environment—the new normal—can be complex. Unlike legacy environments that were relatively homogeneous, hybrid IT environments are inherently heterogeneous.
In a hybrid IT environment, different systems and applications exist in different locations. For example, according to the report, 70 percent of respondents say they have migrated applications to the cloud. In addition, 55 percent say they have migrated storage and 36 percent have migrated databases to the cloud.
Here’s where the challenge lies for today’s federal IT pros. What is the best way to manage hybrid IT?
Conceptually, the key to successful management is maximum visibility. Having a single point of truth across platforms—on-premises and cloud—is essential. Specifically, consider implementing a centralized dashboard to remediate, troubleshoot, and optimize your environment, no matter where it exists.
Skillsets required for the new IT Prototype
Of course, understanding the hybrid IT environment—and having a conceptual management strategy—is only half the equation. Managing a hybrid IT infrastructure requires new skills in addition to those needed to manage on-premises infrastructures.
Your team will need to learn service-oriented architectures, automation, vendor management, application migration, distributed architectures, API and hybrid IT monitoring, and more. In fact, the team’s skillset will be the driving force behind the success of your implementation.
What kinds of skills will bring the most value to a hybrid environment? According to the report, the top five skills needed to better manage hybrid IT environments are:
• hybrid IT monitoring/management tools and metrics (48 percent)
• application migration (41 percent)
• distributed architectures (32 percent)
• service-oriented architectures (31 percent)
• automation/vendor management (tied at 30 percent)
In addition to these technology skills, federal IT pros will need to enhance their business skills.
Hybrid IT often involves working with multiple service providers in different geographic locations. IT pros will need to become accustomed to working with various providers handling different tasks. In fact, it may become necessary to know how to negotiate contracts, understand budget management and service level agreements, manage workflows and deadlines, and dissect contract terms and conditions.
Hybrid IT environments may take federal IT pros outside of their comfort zones. The key to success is commitment: commit to embracing the new environment and commit to learning and honing new skills. Understanding the environment and bringing in the right skillsets and tools will be the key to maximizing the benefits of this new computing reality.
By Joe Kim at SolarWinds