A survey of 336 developers, web product managers and DevOps practitioners published by SolarWinds, a provider of IT management tools, finds they spend most of their time troubleshooting applications—so much so that there is little time for strategic projects such as transitioning to DevOps practices.
Joe Kim, executive vice president and global chief technology officer for SolarWinds, said that while senior IT leaders continue to preach about the critical role DevOps will play in changing their IT culture, IT staff still spends too much time dealing with tactical problems to implement any of the goals defined within a longer-term strategic plan. More than half of respondents (53 percent) said troubleshooting application issues is the top task completed on a given day.
Because most of their time is spent on troubleshooting applications and not on managing and/or deploying applications, Kim said, many employees suffer from low morale. Then, before many IT leaders realize it, their best people are being lured away by the promise of working for an organization that enables them to focus more on the parts of IT process they enjoy, he said.
In fact, Kim noted, in this situation IT leaders that embrace DevOps are in danger of losing credibility. If IT leaders tout the benefits of DevOps, and yet the internal IT staff is spending most of their time on application troubleshooting, chances are good many of the rank-and-file IT professionals will conclude their leaders are out of touch with their everyday reality. IT leaders would be well-advised to engage more with their IT staffs to make sure their strategies are more informed by that IT reality, he advised.
The survey also finds respondents are spending less than 25 percent of their time proactively optimizing performance of their IT environments. Being able to spend more time on this aspect of IT is critical, because if more time is spent on proactively discovering issues, less time must be spent on troubleshooting, said Kim.
IT teams should also be trying to push the boundaries of IT automation to reduce as much of the manual drudgery associated with IT as possible, added Kim.
To get a better appreciation for real state of the IT environment, Kim advised IT leaders gather and share metrics with their teams. Not only does that provide IT teams with some sense of accomplishment as specific goals are achieved, the metrics make it easier to get IT teams to rally behind transitioning to DevOps best practices, he said. That’s crucial because any transition to DevOps is likely to fail because of cultural rather than technical challenges.
It’s unlikely the need to troubleshoot applications ever will go away entirely. The developers that create those applications, after all, are only human. But it is possible to make working in IT a lot more fun and rewarding than what most IT professionals currently experience today.