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The IT department is under ever-increasing pressure to improve operational efficiency, in response to myriad factors such as the onset of the cloud paradigm and ongoing macroeconomic woes.
But a report from Kelton Global, commissioned by IT service optimization firm TeamQuest, finds that IT professionals in large enterprises are still spending an average of 20 hours a week responding to unexpected IT issues.
The report - based on a survey of 214 US enterprises with more than 1,000 employees - alleges that too few large companies are proactively addressing these problems before they arise.
Unexpected issues chew up man-hours
The survey shows that the average IT department deals with 20 unexpected issues – such as network outages or slowdowns and equipment failures – per week.
Each issue encountered takes an average of one hour to resolve, and requires the attention of five IT staff members.
Close to half of IT departments encounter weekly network slowdowns and outages, and nearly as many have to deal with underperforming applications every week.
Around 38% encounter equipment failures at least once a week, while 35% regularly encounter problems arising from third-party software and services.
Less common but more potentially disruptive, 38% of IT departments have reported experiencing a cloud outage. Of these outages, close to four in ten occurred on an internal company cloud, and could have been prevented had better resources been available.
All this time spent solving unexpected issues leaves most IT managers with little time to spare for proactive improvement efforts. The average department spends only 8% of its time on projects such as capacity planning, problem prevention, application tuning or data management.
This compares to 30% of time spent solving unexpected IT problems, and a further 25% dedicated to management of budgets, vendors and upgrade-related matters.
Around 82% of respondents admit there are times when their department does not identify performance issues before users call in a complaint, and nearly half say that they lack needed background information in the event of an incident.
Organizations that take a proactive approach deal with nearly half as many unexpected IT issues per week than their reactive peers, and require significantly less time and manpower to solve problems, the report states.
Furthermore, a massive 90% IT managers believe there is room for efficiency improvements among their departments, with nearly six in ten nominating staff training as a potential solution. Nearly half would also like to increase the size of their department.
Beyond employee assets, IT managers believe that adding or improving on diagnosis and analytics tools can improve efficiency. Another potential solution is consolidating servers to cut infrastructure admin workload, nominated as a solution by 57% of respondents.
One in two IT managers meanwhile believe improving capacity management processes could help squeeze efficiency out of their department. What's more, 68% of organizations that employ capacity management believe it has improved IT efficiency.
Yet only 11% of IT mangers think their capacity management processes can be considered “most mature,” with six in ten believing they fall in the middle of the maturity scale.
That said, 89% of IT managers believe that capacity management is risky without proper pre-planning.
Another popular method to improve efficiency is the use of virtual machines, but 80% of IT managers who use such software can name at least one related struggle, such as performance problems or identifying the best possible configuration.
Only two in five IT departments feel they have proper virtualization management in place, and more than three quarters believe their overall IT risk would shrink if they did have an adequate system.