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February 20, 2013

What Will it Take to Get IT Execs Comfortable with the Cloud?

It’s time to bolster our cloud confidence (we’re looking at you, IT operations executives). We have plenty of dirt on you, too, that proves you’re more than a little hesitant when it comes to embracing the cloud, but we’re not saying you don’t have good reason to be.

This week, BlueStripe came out with some interesting survey results revealing key IT operations trends for 2013, and they make some very obvious yet critical points that got our wheels turning.

In the survey of 166 Fortune 500 operations execs, nearly two thirds of IT operations leaders revealed their dissatisfaction with current IT operations processes, even saying that they feel the tools they have are not up to par and can’t handle the huge growth in infrastructure complexity. What can we say though, when the survey also reveals that a meager eight percent of organizations boast a monitoring framework that both aggregates alerts and provides appropriate application and service level context for interpreting and acting on those alerts?

Clearly, there’s a serious gap here.

Other additional findings include that one in every five respondents reported that users found more than half of problems before IT operations did – a staggering number that is not only extremely embarrassing, but almost hard to believe overall.

Even more, 81 percent of companies reported that regardless of the process they used, they failed to find the root cause of at least one fourth (25 percent) of application outages.

I was able to speak with Dave Mountain, VP of Marketing at BlueStripe, who explained to me why most IT operations are lagging behind, what they can do to help find the root cause of service and performance issues, and what it’s finally going to take to get us to cloud nine.

Before we jump in, let’s take a second to get to know this company.

BlueStripe Software is an esteemed provider of transaction and application monitoring solutions for IT operations and support teams. Its flagship software, FactFinder, serves as a full monitoring platform for managing the performance of a company’s critical applications to detect problems and allow IT operations teams to see what applications are performing via one single, unified view.

So why is it that IT operations teams sometimes lag behind? Mountain explained to me that the most important information is the kind that IT operations haven’t gotten to yet, which is why all of these problems occur in the first place. So what’s the most important information to keep handy? The kind that is detailed, Mountain advises, “If you’re trying to look at it at an overall performance level, that’s just noise. You can’t make any sense of that.”

Have you tried doing such things as rebooting your server after a failure or issue? One piece of advice Mountain gives about this method is tried and true: “It can happen once, it can probably happen again.” He adds, “It doesn’t get you to the root cause. You can sometimes get the problem to go away, but you don’t know why it happened.”

And that doesn’t help you one bit.

Conversely, what they need is a robust set of performance monitoring and management tools that are effective and simple rather than ineffective and manpower intensive, which is what led to such dissatisfaction, and ultimately, what led enterprises to be wary of moving their mission-critical transactional applications to the cloud, the survey divulges.

Now on to the cloud issues. Mountain suggests it’s not virtualization that is the controversial aspect, but public and hybrid cloud that make enterprises reluctant to make the move. A total of 10 percent of companies have already either heavily invested (3 percent) or are planning to invest in public/hybrid cloud this year (7 percent). He suggests that the halt with this progression is that many are afraid to take that first step without seeing how others fare first.

Image via Shutterstock

“There’s a difficulty of managing the applications they have already running in their data centers,” said Mountain. “They don’t want to add the hindrance of the public or hybrid cloud environment on top of that. So there’s a concern that their ability to handle applications in a cloud environment will be harder than in a regular data center.”

Sixty-five percent of companies are considering the cloud, but haven’t made the decision yet – the operative word here being “considering.” So what’s it going to take to finally make the push?

“They’ll need certainty,” Mountain said. “When you get down to it, IT operations management is a very challenging game, and your job as an IT operations manager is to deliver high performing applications. Those are the things that drive your business, and so companies are not going to jump in with those that that are the core of their business unless it’s going to work. Some of that is security, some of that is comfort level and making sure everything works the way it’s supposed to.”

But nothing is ever certain. “Nobody wants to be first,” Mountain concluded, adding that once you choose to do so and it works, you gain a serious competitive advantage. “There are real competitive advantages to moving to the cloud, and once your competitors do it, you almost have to. You can see everyone inching to the edge of the pool, the water is cool and it’s hot out, but they just don’t know how deep the pool is.”

So will you be diving in this year?

Edited by Braden Becker

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