What shifting into remote work means for your IT infrastructure
During the height of the Corona pandemic, most organizations had to let their employees work from home – when that was possible. Most companies in the US are currently thinking about shifting back to remote work or delaying their return-to-office plans due to the spread of the Omicron Covid variant.1 Last year IT departments already had to quickly adapt their organisations’ infrastructure in order to meet the demand for remote work. Now, they again have to take action quickly and at short notice. But, what exactly does that mean in the perspective of IT professionals?
Remote work puts a new burden on IT infrastructure, of course, but it has turned out that most sysadmins have dealt fairly well with the new situation. The international survey ‘Trends in IT Ops’ by tribe29, the company behind the monitoring tool Checkmk, looked into, among other things, how organizations’ IT infrastructures were able to deal with the changed circumstances. More than 160 system administrators worldwide were surveyed for this purpose, ensuring a good spread of respondents, both geographically and professionally.
In most organizations, the IT infrastructure was already designed for working remotely, although not always to the levels required. In the survey, 56% of administrators said they had no problems with the transition, and 41% said that in principle their IT infrastructure allowed working remotely before the pandemic, but that they have had to scale their IT resources in the wake of the transition. Only 4% were forced to rebuild their IT infrastructure from scratch to enable employees to work from home.
The survey revealed several new tasks for system administrators. Most of them reported that the provision of IT equipment such as headsets or webcams to ensure efficient communication was their most important task during the switch to working remotely. The second most important task was the configuration and management of remote access technologies such as VPNs. As a result of the increase in corporate VPN usage, improving the organization’s bandwidth and connectivity came in third place.
The role of a system administrator has become more multifaceted.
The importance of virtualization and cloud technology has increased due to the move to remote working. In the survey, 79% of respondents say that monitoring cloud environments will take on a more important or much more important role in the future. This increase in monitoring is no surprise, as most enterprises are migrating to the cloud or to hybrid environments.
Despite the increased focus on the cloud, physical IT infrastructure monitoring such as network monitoring remains an essential part of administrators’ responsibilities. Among the respondents, 45% noted no change in the importance of physical infrastructure monitoring, and 43% even expected physical infrastructure monitoring to be more important or much more important in the future. Only 12% expected its importance to decrease.
Now, with all that added workload, pre-existing activities cannot be neglected, and sysadmins must find solutions to be able to perform their work more efficiently. One response to this challenge has been a focus on automation. A large majority (92%) saw deployment and configuration automation tools as relevant or very relevant to their workspace. In addition, 81% of all respondents said that projects aimed at automating the deployment and configuration of systems had been relevant or very relevant to them over the last 12 months.
While some organizations might shift back to their main offices in 2022, other organizations will continue with remote work or hybrid approaches. The data from the survey Trends in IT Ops gives an impression of the significant changes in the daily routine of administrators and highlights the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the day-to-day work of IT teams. In many companies, the IT infrastructure was prepared for the transition to working remotely, but system administrators still had to do extra work in the wake of the pandemic. Looking to the future, most system administrators are focused on monitoring cloud assets and containers but also made it clear that this will not make monitoring servers and other hardware any less critical.