Advanced Computing in the Age of AI|Friday, September 25, 2020
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Culture, Underutilized Tools Hinder Cloud Deployments 

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Sufficient usage experience has emerged to better gauge how enterprise cloud deployments are faring and which tools are needed to leverage cloud agility to align developer operations to boost application performance.

A pair of cloud studies released this week reveal lingering cultural issues as well as the growing importance of application performance tools as DevOps teams struggle to move beyond troubleshooting tasks to apply management tools across the application stack.

A new survey of early cloud adopters found that the vast majority (upwards of 90 percent) are using IT management software but have yet to use it beyond relatively routine troubleshooting tasks. The survey released Tuesday (Jan. 28) by IT management software vendor SolarWinds (NYSE:SWI) concludes that while application performance management (APM) tools have hit the mainstream, they are “largely misunderstood and therefore underutilized.”

A separate cloud adoption study released this week by NTT Data Services found that cultural barriers related to management rather than technology continue to stymie deployments. While risk-averse management has yet to fully embrace cloud infrastructure, the NTT study also identified an emerging group of “next-gen cloud leaders” moving beyond traditional IT migrations to identify new cloud-based use cases for their businesses.

“Leaders recognize both the challenges and benefits of a cloud transformation, but cultural shifts are still critical to accelerate the transition and achieve their desired results,” said Lisa Woodley, an NTT DATA Services vice president.

Still, the cloud survey identified about 60 percent of cloud migrators who have pushed through corporate barriers to upgrade their IT operations to leverage cloud agility and become more competitive. For example, the survey identified a small but growing number of organizations embracing cloud-native applications.

Cloud “leaders are more likely to reorganize teams into smaller and more agile-integrated and cross-functional units and develop a dedicated, function-wide strategy for culture change ahead of transformation,” the NTT study concluded.

The IT vendor said it surveyed 252 executives in the U.S. and Canada.

Meanwhile, APM and other IT tools are gaining traction across on-premises application development to emerging microservices used to deliver distributed applications. Most are used for tasks like database, application and infrastructure monitoring.

IT managers “are confident in their ability to manage and monitor applications on-premises, in hybrid environments and in the cloud,” the SolarWinds survey found. “This confidence mostly sits within their ability to troubleshoot.”

While the use of APM tools for monitoring represents progress, those tools remain underutilized—due in part to a skills gap that has prevented many IT teams from moving beyond troubleshooting. Rather than reacting to problems, the vendor said APM tools, when fully utilized, can help optimize their IT infrastructure.

Just over one-third of those managers surveyed acknowledged their teams need to improve their ability to track key business metrics as a way to stay ahead of problems and boost IT performance.

SolarWind, Austin, Texas, said it survey 317 application developers and support teams in the U.S. and Canada.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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