More than half of organisations remain unprepared for IT outages

IT leaders struggle with complexity, but have shunned machine learning as a solution

More than half of organisations are unprepared for system failures, a new report has shown, with technical staff left in the dark in the event of an outage.

So claims research by the Ponemon Institute, conducted on behalf of Splunk, which found the majority of organisations are dangerously lacking in official workflows and processes to follow when their infrastructure encounters problems.

Of the 2,500 global IT decision-makers surveyed, more than 70% said that they did not have, or were not aware of, any "documented workflows and automated processes" to guide staff in remediating an outage. Similarly, 69% could not confirm that processes for the monitoring and troubleshooting of IT were consistently applied throughout the business.

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This leads to confusion when outages do occur, as respondents said that more than 40% of their effort is spent on identifying where the problem has occurred within their IT infrastructure and what caused it - all of which is before they have even begun thinking about how to actually address the issue.

All of which leads to increased tension within the business; around two-thirds of organisations reported that the primary consequence for the IT department when the businesses systems go down is an increase in friction between IT and line-of-business employees, as staff blame the IT department for the loss of productivity.

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Unfortunately, this situation is not helped by the increasing complexity of IT infrastructure in general. Some 55% of worldwide respondents identified increasing application complexity as the biggest upcoming risk in managing infrastructure, followed by a shortage of skilled staff, while just under one in four feel more confident in managing this complexity compared to a year ago.

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Machine learning tools and the improved automation of tasks relating to infrastructure monitoring may help to address this issue, but many organisations remain skeptical. According to the Ponemon study, less than half of the surveyed IT leaders agreed that automation and enhanced analytics would help them deliver projects on schedule, meet customer expectations or maintain quality of service.

Organisations are, however, attempting to eliminate complexity within their IT. Simplification of infrastructure through increased consolidation was identified as the most influential factor that IT decision makers took into considerations when forming their strategy for monitoring and troubleshooting.

It would appear that this consolidation will likely be via increased investment in the cloud; 80% thought their organisation's budget for cloud operations would either grow or stay the same, while 38% predicted a decrease in on-premise budgets.

"Complexity and scale are challenging professionals responsible for infrastructure monitoring," the report said. "According to the findings, these professionals are responsible for monitoring an average of 59 servers. As a result, they can be overwhelmed in meeting expectations about performance and availability."

"The most influential factors in deciding an organization's approach to infrastructure troubleshooting and monitoring are the simplification of IT complexity through consolidation of technologies and systems and the automation of IT maintenance/management processes."

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