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A survey of more than 400 network infrastructure and operations professionals from Fortune 500 companies suggests a growing lack of confidence in internal network operations teams may be creating an opportunity for managed service providers (MSPs).

Conducted by Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) on behalf of Auvik, a provider of cloud-based network management software, and sponsored by Broadcom, NetScout, Park Place Technologies, Progress, and SolarWinds, the survey finds that only slightly more than a quarter of respondents (27 percent) believe their network operations groups are completely successful.

Furthermore, only 13 percent of respondents said their organization finds it very easy to hire and retain networking personnel. Nearly 40 percent of respondents also reported that the pandemic has introduced new challenges to the hiring process.

Among the other key findings are that 31 percent of all IT service problems are reactive, with end users reporting them to IT before network operations teams are aware of an issue. Only 34 percent of the alerts generated from network monitoring tools are actionable with networking professionals on average spending 22 percent of their day troubleshooting issues.

Growing infrastructure complexity creates challenges

The report comes at a time when many organizations continue to transition to software-defined networking (SDN) overlays that at least in theory create more opportunity to automate the management of network operations. The challenge is that these overlays are often difficult to implement across enterprise networks that continue to expand. For example, Internet of Things (IoT) applications are used to help drive digital business transformation initiatives.

Finally, network operations in the months and years ahead will increasingly be incorporated within DevOps workflows thanks primarily to the rise of service mesh platforms that abstract much of the underlying network infrastructure complexity. Much of that complexity is attributed to application programming interfaces that are too low level for application developers to programmatically invoke. A service mesh extends proxy software in a way that exposes a set of more accessible APIs that can be employed to invoke a wide range of networking and security services.

MSPs are well-positioned to keep pace with innovation

Put it all together and it’s clear that the pace of networking and security innovation may now be occurring at a rate that is faster than most organizations can absorb. While most MSPs face many of the same challenges as an internal network operations team, they are generally in a better position to meet them. After all, most MSPs will make the investments required to keep their teams current on an emerging technology that is shown to reduce the total cost of operations. In contrast, an internal network operations team is fighting for a slice of a larger IT budget that is often tied to what platforms are in place today versus what will be required tomorrow.

It’s not clear to what degree organizations are now more willing to rely on MSPs as IT environments become more complex. However, the one thing that is apparent is the place where that pain is being felt most is already among network operating teams that are clearly struggling to cope.

Photo: Mr.B-king / Shutterstock

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Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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