SolarWinds has revealed the findings of its SolarWinds IT Trends Report 2017: Portrait of a Hybrid IT Organization. Featuring insights from public sector IT practitioners, managers, and directors, this year’s annual state-of-the-industry study explores the variety of ways in which IT departments around the world are integrating the cloud, and the effect hybrid IT has had on their organizations and IT job roles.

Overall, North American public sector organizations are moving further into the cloud, with 96% of respondents reporting they have migrated critical applications and infrastructure over the past year. However, while nearly 60% say they have experienced the expected benefits of the cloud, hybrid IT is increasing the complexity of IT roles, and introducing challenges like a lack of visibility between on-premises and cloud infrastructure, as well as the need to develop new skillsets to keep pace with changing environments.

“No job is more affected by ongoing technology disruptions than the role of the IT professional, which is why we explore these dynamics year after year,” said Joe Kim, senior vice president and chief technology officer, SolarWinds. “By creating this portrait of today’s public sector hybrid IT organization, we get to the heart of the shifts occurring so we can better understand and cater to the unique needs of these government agencies. For today’s IT professionals, it’s absolutely critical not only to put the right solutions in place to best manage hybrid IT environments, but to prepare organizations — and themselves — for continued technology advancements, even as we move beyond cloud.”

2017 Key Findings for the Public Sector

The SolarWinds IT Trends Report 2017: Portrait of a Hybrid IT Organization explores significant trends, developments, and movements related to and directly affecting IT and IT professionals. Key findings show that today’s public sector hybrid IT organizations are:

Moving applications, storage, and databases further into the cloud.

  • In the past 12 months, IT professionals have migrated applications (73%), storage (51%), and databases (29%) to the cloud more than any other areas of IT.
  • By weighted rank, the top three reasons for prioritizing these areas of their IT environments for migration were greatest potential for ROI/cost efficiency, availability, and increased reliability, respectively.

Experiencing the cost efficiencies of the cloud.

  • Nearly all (96%) public sector organizations have migrated critical applications and IT infrastructure to the cloud over the past year, yet three-fourths (75%) spend less than 40% of their annual IT budgets on cloud technology.
  • Two-fifths (40%) said their organizations spend 70% or more of their annual IT budgets on on-premises (traditional) applications and infrastructure.
  • Nearly three in five (58%) organizations have received either most or all expected cloud benefits (such as cost efficiency, availability, or scalability).
  • Cost efficiency is at times not enough to justify migration to the cloud: 29% migrated areas to the cloud that were ultimately brought back on-premises due mostly to security/compliance issues, poor performance, and technical challenges with the migration.

Building and expanding cloud roles and skillsets for IT professionals.

  • Over three-fifths (62%) of IT professionals indicated that hybrid IT has required them to acquire new skills, while 11% said it has altered their career path.
  • Nearly three-fifths (57%) of public sector organizations have already hired/reassigned IT personnel, or plan to do so, for the specific purpose of managing cloud technologies.
  • The top two cloud-related skills IT professionals improved over the past 12 months were data analytics (40%) and monitoring/management tools and metrics (40%).
  • Sixty-three percent said an IT staff skills gap was one of the five biggest hybrid IT challenges, while 47% said increased workload/responsibilities.
  • More than a third (38%) do not believe that IT professionals entering the workforce now possess the skills necessary to manage hybrid IT environments.

Increasing in complexity and lacking visibility across the entire hybrid IT infrastructure:

  • Nearly two-thirds (65%) said their organizations currently use up to three cloud provider environments, with the largest percentage using two to three; however, one out of every 10 (9%) use 10 or more.
  • By weighted rank, the number one challenge created by hybrid IT is increased infrastructure complexity, followed by an IT skills gap and lack of control/visibility into the performance of cloud-based applications and infrastructure, respectively.

To explore and interact with all of the 2017 findings, please visit the SolarWinds IT Trends Index, a dynamic web experience that presents the study’s findings by region, including charts, graphs, socially shareable elements, and additional insights into the data.

The findings of this year’s North America public sector report are based on a survey fielded in December 2016, which yielded responses from 75 IT practitioners, managers, and directors in the U.S. and Canada from public-sector small, mid-size, and large organizations whose organizations are leveraging cloud-based services for at least some IT infrastructure (including applications).