Complexity problems growing worse, fed IT pros say


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Complexity and budget constraints are the biggest problems faced by federal IT departments, according to a new survey.

Complexity of IT systems and technology was selected by the largest number of federal respondents — 42 percent — as their top difficulty in managing IT operations. Among those who worked in national security agencies, the proportion was 45 percent. The second most frequently selected difficulty was lack of funding/budget constraints — chosen by 37 percent — and the third was integrating multiple technologies, which 29 percent of federal respondents said was their top problem.

The survey, of nearly 700 IT decision-makers from the federal, state and education sectors, was carried out in May by the Clarus Research Group for Splunk. The results were released Monday.

Separate figures were broken out from the 200 federal respondents.

More than half of them — 56 percent — said that new trends in IT like cloud, DevOps and virtualization are adding to the complexity problem. Fewer than a third — 31 percent — said those changes are making things simpler. Those in the national security field were much more likely to feel that those changing trends were adding to complexity — 62 percent compared to just 48 percent of respondents from nonsecurity agencies.

Cybersecurity a challenge

Asked about the biggest challenges facing their agency’s IT operations, the largest number, 42 percent, selected cybersecurity. Implementing new initiatives, directives and mandates was the second most frequently chosen alternative at 34 percent and cost savings or cost avoidance was third at 31 percent.

Around two-thirds of federal respondents appear to lack the enterprisewide visibility and data automation needed for modern cybersecurity and IT operations. If an interruption to IT systems occurred, 66 percent said their organization would likely rely on manually collecting data to diagnose the issue. Similarly, 61 percent said their troubleshooting practices for IT system issues are manual and ad-hoc.

Kevin Davis, vice president of public sector for Splunk, said it was “abundantly clear that most of the public sector is dealing with increasingly complex IT systems that are hurting organizations’ ability to respond quickly to issues and limiting their visibility across agencies and programs.”