IT managers: we're hurting for more cloud and DevOps skills

Despite years of cloud and DevOps adoption, IT departments are still mired in backlogs of user demands, survey shows.

There's been a lot of talk lately about "two-speed" IT, in which one part of the job is to help with all the cool stuff, such as digital presence and data analytics, while the other part is to deal with the traditional IT maintenance stuff -- upgrades, patching, coding, security and so forth.

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Even with all the cloud and DevOps around, IT still plays a firefighter versus builder role, survey suggests. Photo: US Navy, via Wikipedia.

Unfortunately, it doesn't look like two-speed IT is a 50-50 split in time and resources. It's more like 80-20, in favor of the maintenance side.

That's the conclusion from a survey of 200 IT executives just released by NetEnrich, which surveyed larger organizations with at least $400 million in annual revenues. The survey finds plenty of adoption of newer approaches that could help shift IT's emphasis to the digital side -- particularly cloud and DevOps. Nearly 97 percent of respondents said they're moving applications and workloads into public, private or hybrid cloud environments, and 68 percent said that DevOps methodologies have been integrated well into their traditional IT and tech operations teams.

However, IT managers still aren't feeling the love. Instead, the survey suggests, they're still mired in a backlog of user demands. IT still spends too much time on day-to-day systems maintenance. As a result, close to one in four admit that business demands have become too fast and too big to handle, causing IT to say "no."

At the same time, they are hard-pressed to find the skills needed to deploy, manage, and optimize cloud and DevOps environments. Forty-two percent said their internal teams don't have the expertise and/or resources to migrate applications to the cloud, 39 percent say they don't have the ability to optimize cloud deployments for cost and performance, and 34 percent say they'd be unable to manage cloud technologies on an ongoing basis.

It all boils down to skills shortages, the survey suggests. For all intents and purposes, one-third of IT executives said their most skilled staff is working "just to keep the lights on." There's a lack of available, skilled talent is causing companies to put digital business plans on hold.

As a result, business users are taking matters into their own hands, pursuing shadow IT initiatives. While these survey respondents admitted not being aware of where shadow IT is occurring in their enterprises, they ventured estimates of what it was costing their organizations. Sixty-two percent said that up to 20 percent of their company's tech funding is probably being spent on shadow IT, while 23 percent reported that shadow IT was consuming as much as 40 percent of tech budgets.

Is shadow IT risky business? Yes, IT executives agree -- especially in terms of security (38 percent) and application performance (22 percent) cited as the most common concerns. Eighteen percent confessed that their biggest shadow IT concern was its ability to decrease IT's relevance to the organization, and another 11 percent said it would result in smaller IT budgets.

Of course, many seasoned IT pros out there know what the real fallout from shadow IT will be -- these cloud and mobile apps will break or mess up data, and business users will be pounding on IT's door to get things fixed. As a result, IT spends even more time with maintenance chores.