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Operational Security

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7/26/2019
12:48 PM
Larry Loeb
Larry Loeb
Larry Loeb

IT Modernization: Needed & Not Easy

'Challenges with architecture modernization' ranks high on IT survey respondents' list of grievances.

A report on 2019 IT Architectural Modernization Trends conducted by Dimensional Research and sponsored by Datastax has show 99% of IT respondents are reporting "challenges with architecture modernization." Further, 98% of the respondents are also reporting challenges with their corporate data architectures (that means data silos inside the company).

The survey consisted of 304 IT executives who work at companies with more than 5,000 employees. DR says that the goal of the survey was to understand current experiences with and plans to reduce complexity and cost around architecture modernization.

The survey elicited some strong trends. To start, architecture modernization is necessary -- and hard. One-hundred percent of respondents say that they are modernizing their technology architecture. The goals of this modernization are driven by perceived business needs.

Most of the respondents (79%) cited cost reduction through better use of resources as a motivation for architecture modernization. Improving customer satisfaction (68%), increasing employee efficiency and satisfaction (59%) or using data-driven insights to improve engagement and revenue (55%) were important business needs that also pressured modernization.

Other frequently reported drivers for modernization included a strategy to enter new markets (43%), the need to respond to competitive pressure (42%) and the desire to grow their existing markets (42%).

Respondents also wrote-in their driving needs on the survey. Some of the needs that were listed by respondents included compliance needs, pressure for faster innovation, security improvements to reduce operational risk and minimizing technical debt.

The challenge that seems to be most on the mind of IT leadership is finding "the balance between managing costs without sacrificing uptime and performance." More than half (56%) say that they are struggling with this issue.

But there are other specific problems as well. The survey found that problems listed by those surveyed included building a flexible architecture that can adapt as cloud technologies evolve (46%), managing pressure to deliver solutions faster (45%), finding expert resources with the right skills to deliver innovative solutions (43%), scaling complex environments (41%), managing the expectations of stakeholders (40%), leveraging data that exists in silos across a wide range of applications and uses (39%) and lacking experience in modernization strategies (38%).

Who pays for all of this remains an open question. It is just as common (35%) for business units, sales, finance or other line of business functions to be responsible for funding new applications as it is for a centralized IT organization (33%) to do so.

In some large companies, the responsibility for finding money comes from a departmental IT team (14%). And in others (18%) there is no "typical" way to fund new application development.

It is a big change from past years that IT leadership now views cloud use as key to their technology modernization initiatives. The survey reports that it is the technology that is most frequently part of technology architecture modernization (85%), more than any other including containers (65%), microservices (57%), open source (50%) or orchestration (44%).

Almost all (95%) report concerns about the potential for deleterious effects resulting from lock-in with their cloud vendors, however. In another significant change, the respondents' opinions on open sourced software have changed. Eighty-two percent agree that their teams are much more positive about open source today than they were just five years ago.

It seems clear that business needs are the driving force behind these changes. Those needs will continue into the future, so the impetus for modernization will not disappear.

— Larry Loeb has written for many of the last century's major "dead tree" computer magazines, having been, among other things, a consulting editor for BYTE magazine and senior editor for the launch of WebWeek.

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