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Infrastructure, Operations Leaders Must Focus on DevOps, SRE Initiatives

To better meet performance expectations, I&O leaders must think creatively -- be it searching for tech talent or deploying low-code and GenAI solutions.

Nathan Eddy

December 29, 2023

4 Min Read
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Yuri Arcurs

At a Glance

  • A Gartner study of 122 I&O leaders reveals just 12% perceive their function's performance as surpassing CIO expectations.
  • I&O teams need to move up the value chain from a focus on being a reactive, cost-oriented organization to becoming proactive.
  • I&O personnel need to prioritize privacy and AI governance and focus on vendors with a track record of transparency.

Amidst ongoing economic pressures, infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders are struggling to meet the performance expectations of CIOs, suggesting I&O specialists should be re-examining organizational structures and ways of working.

A Gartner study of 122 I&O leaders from enterprises in North America, EMEA, and Asia/Pacific reveals just 12% of these leaders perceive their function's performance as surpassing the expectations set by the CIO.

Cybersecurity emerged as the primary threat impacting enterprise growth, followed closely by supply chain disruptions and talent and skills shortages, considered the second- and third-most-significant external threats affecting growth.

The survey results indicated development operations (DevOps), site reliability engineering (SRE) and infrastructure platform engineering (IPE) initiatives appear to be increasing as organizations work to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their I&O organizations.

“In addition, technology such as automation is an area of great interest to make IT operations better, faster and cheaper,” Cameron Haight, vice president analyst at Gartner, explains in an email.

Low-Code Solutions, Internal Talent

Another potential win for I&O leaders is the adoption of low-code orchestration, which can help technical experts become more productive, particularly by eliminating manual errors made otherwise, and making it easier to build customized automation workflows.

Related:How Infrastructure and Operations Is Transforming

By utilizing low-code platforms with drag-and-drop interfaces and pre-built UI templates, workers can save time, while also ensuring that the organization's cybersecurity remains flexible and efficient.

With supply chain disruptions and talent shortages ranking as major threats to enterprise growth, Haight said there is increased interest in looking at leveraging internal talent such as working with business technologists and the creation of fusion teams.

“Externally, more IT organizations appear to be open to activities such as offering internships to students at local academic institutions that can not only augment current work but may offer the ability to become a future talent supply chain,” Haight says.

Budgets Under Inflationary Pressure

Haight explains that given the financial constraints faced by many I&O leaders, innovative approaches and resource optimization strategies are being adopted to meet organizational expectations -- despite budgets that often struggle to keep pace with inflationary pressures.

“While initially slow in terms of interest, I&O organizations are now looking more intensively at technology such as generative AI to help augment internal skills while also trying to more effectively deal with increasing IT complexity,” he says.

Related:2023 State of DevOps Report

Use cases include implementing conversational user interfaces (UI) or virtual assistants for self-service, knowledge discovery for understanding internal policies and processes and content generation, including runbooks or deployment manifests.

“I would add to that anomaly detection, which are currently those areas seeing the most interest,” he notes. “At least initially, this will be implemented leveraging existing technology suppliers such as observability, service desk and DevOps vendors.”

Haight acknowledges the sobering implications of the survey's finding that just 12% of I&O leaders rated their function's performance as exceeding CIO expectations in the current economic climate, but adds the good news is that overall CIOs seem to be satisfied so far.

“This could be a signal that expectations may increase especially as there are still concerns about economic headwinds,” he says.

From his perspective, I&O teams need to move up the value chain from a focus on simply being a reactive, cost-oriented organization to becoming a proactive, innovative partner valued by their business stakeholders.

Related:5 Things You Can Do Today to Prepare for 2024’s Security Threats

“A key element in this will be the development of the proper set of metrics that convey, in non-technical terms, how I&O is aligning with the needs of the business,” he adds.

Focus on Data Privacy, Security

Rajesh Ganesan, president of ManageEngine, notes data breaches and data privacy law violations can do irreparable damage to an organization's reputation.

“By making privacy and data governance a top priority in 2024, I&O leaders can ensure their organizations are compliant with privacy laws and protected against data breaches,” he explained in an email interview. “It's crucial that every employee in the organization takes personal responsibility for data privacy.”

Ganesan points out if organizations have the financial means, it is wise to invest in private data centers.

“Organizations that invest in their own domain controller and security operations can control their security posture and make sure poor levels of security from the public service provider does not affect them,” he says.

Not only are these companies protected from any breaches that occur in a public cloud environment, but they also have an easier time complying with legislation, as specific control measures can be put in place.

He adds that if most of the I&O leaders' performance isn’t meeting CIO expectations, this may speak to CIOs’ overall anxiety surrounding the current cyber landscape.

“Bad actors are getting increasingly savvy; breaches and supply chain attacks are on the rise, and zero-trust has never been more important,” Ganesan says. “When it comes to data privacy and security, everyone in an organization needs to be hyper vigilant-and that means everyone in the org chart-from the C-level personnel down to the interns.”

He says in the future, I&O personnel will also need to prioritize privacy and AI governance and focus on vendors with a track record of transparency.

“When it comes to procuring hardware and software, it will be increasingly vital to make judicious purchases,” he explains.  

About the Author(s)

Nathan Eddy

Freelance Writer

Nathan Eddy is a freelance writer for InformationWeek. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin.

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