IT Folks Have Little Time for Strategic Activities

A new survey has found that about one-third of IT staff spend their time on server management tasks.

Nearly 60% of 441 IT managers polled cited the “hassle of managing servers” as a challenge in their organization. Meanwhile, another 61% found it difficult to find “time to drive innovation,” according to the Rackspace-commissioned survey of IT managers at U.S. and U.K. midsize enterprises.

If you’re an IT manager, news of the daily challenges you face controlling your environment should not be a surprise. And to me, it’s plain that these hurdles are what drive companies to consider managed hosting and cloud computing alternatives. But the survey tells us more about why they don’t than about why they do.

In the survey, IT teams said they spent 60% of their time troubleshooting and managing servers. But only 27% said they spent their time on “strategic and value-add activities.” Respondents noted that they were stressed by on-site server management, and some of the issues included “the need to be available 24×7, hardware issues and maintenance, and after-hours calls and issues.”

As a former IT executive, I’m quite familiar with all these concerns. My personal big issue: after-hours calls and issues.

Another issue is capacity planning. More than half said they have made mistakes in forecasting for their servers, while 15% bought too many servers and 36% didn’t buy what was needed.

So what’s going to relieve all this stress for these folks? The alternative: managed hosting or cloud computing. In the survey, about one-third of respondents have plans to outsource their servers in the next two to five years. Yet IT managers have clear reservations about hosted or cloud computing services.

Nearly 30% were skittish because they felt there wasn’t enough proof of cost savings or ROI, and another 29% felt reliability was a hurdle to adoption of hosted or cloud services. Meanwhile, 27% had concerns with “assurances regarding security.”

These concerns are pretty routinely voiced in our industry, so they don’t surprise me.

But what I think a lot of businesses and IT managers fail to remember is the availability of cloud-based services themselves that can help put their fears to rest – for instance 24/7 server monitoring.