What’s in store for IT Ops in 2021? Top execs from leading enterprises share their predictions

2020 is (finally) over, and it’s safe to say that this very challenging year taught us once again that (as the old Danish proverb says) it’s difficult making predictions, especially about the future. Who would have imagined in January 2020 that we would find ourselves where we are today…

And yet, as Tim Harford once wrote in the Financial Times, predictions are like Pringles: nobody thinks that there’s any great virtue in them but we find them hard to resist. So hey, who are we to argue?  We sat down with some of our leading customers and partners to hear what they had to say about their IT Ops challenges in 2020, and how these challenges are reshaping their organizations’ predictions for the near and long term future.

The online panel consisted of Karthik Ranganathan –  Chief Enterprise Architect at NTT Data, Steve Liegl – Head of Network and Infrastructure at WEC Energy Group, David Levinger – Head of Operations at Machinify, and  Ron Vidal of BlackRock 3 Partners incident management academy. Led by Mohan Kompella, our VP of Product Marketing, these 45 minutes were both enlightening and reassuring – as we heard how our peers and partners successfully overcame common challenges, coming out better and stronger, with unique insights on dealing with an uncertain future.

 

Remote work – what hasn’t already been said? You’ll be surprised

As was the case with almost any enterprise, our panelists’ companies found themselves going remote in an instant, relying heavily on technologies and processes that allowed their employees to both work at home, and provide  much-needed services to their customers from anywhere, at any time. 

So what was their key takeaway for the future? 

Yes, remote or hybrid work is the way to go moving forward, realizing things work equally well remotely, if not better. But… their main insight  keeping an open mind and being open to flexible work models, understanding that rigid guidelines do not apply anymore. Going remote in itself is not flexibility: you need to identify the different requirements of different remote employees, and provide them with an optimal work environment. 

Karthik Ranganathan explained that as time went by, NTT Data discovered that although working remotely was an overall success, there were important subtleties they had not noticed:

“There were employees that worked remotely online, but needed to be in a physical location outside of their home, such as banking clerks or loan processing officers. And each had different needs. We quickly understood we had to tailor persona-specific working models, rather than all-encompassing rules”.

 

ITIL – dead or alive?

The discussion on remote working processes led us to ITIL, a topic on which opinions are very divisive: some live by it, and some despise it – but no one is indifferent. 

Looking forward to 2021, we asked our panelists – is ITIL dead, or alive? 

The answers were in line with the flexibility and the shifting of paradigms that 2020 introduced: ITIL is neither dead nor alive – it is changing, no longer a traditional framework, but rather a conceptual guideline for the newer worlds of IT Ops. 

As Steve Liegel put it:

“I feel it is a thing of the present, the future and the past of IT Ops. On the one hand, ITIL provides value to organizations working remotely – as it gives them a reference point for their scattered teams, for new employees that join the company, for those that don’t necessarily understand the flow of things, etc. But on the other hand, I also think we need to be flexible enough to allow changes in participants and roles. Things that were once done by people may now be done by AI, processes need to change to fit new technologies, and so on. So change is in order, but all the while still maintaining the business logic behind ITIL”.

 

SRE and DevOps – a new state to mind 

Directly connected to the role of ITIL was the discussion about the adoption of DevOps and SRE practices in IT operations. 

All the panelists agreed that this is a growing mindset in the industry, as more enterprises realize that responsibility and accountability have to reside within development teams.  Younger generations of engineers are already arriving at their workplaces with that specific state of mind. 

And how does that state of mind manifest itself? David Levinger and Karthik Ranganathan agree:

“It’s not so much ‘adopting SRE’, i.e. taking steps A, B and C to solve something, as it is pivoting to automation – both as a professional lifestyle and on the enterprise level. In order to make things work, you need to ‘automate everything’: event correlation, prediction of failure, self-healing and so on. The key is getting everyone’s minds to shift to an ‘automation lifestyle’”. 

The panel also unanimously agreed that “Shift to an automation lifestyle” would make a great t-shirt.

 

Opinions galore

AIOps, automation, skill sets, and the IT Ops landscape – our panel had much to say on these topics – agreeing on some, differing on others, but always delivering a unique first-hand account of their companies’ practices, alongside a comprehensive and insightful look at all the issues that are top of mind for IT Ops leaders today. 

We invite you to find out what they had to say about these and other topics, by watching the on-demand webinar