SolarWinds: Top 3 predictions for 2023

IT professionals in the public sector will face a host of challenges in the coming year. Here, Sascha Giese, Head Geek at SolarWinds, weighs in on three issues that will be top of mind for 2023.

Posted 26 January 2023 by Christine Horton

Better IT energy management

The increase in energy costs across Europe are affecting organisations of every size. As a result, 2023 will see organisations examining new ways to lower costs and improve IT efficiency.

In the past, considerations like efficiency and lower running costs were seen as ‘nice to have’ – but that is going to change. These features will become a requirement for any new hardware purchase.

The fact that, traditionally, more energy efficient hardware has been a little bit more expensive won’t stop the shift in purchasing behaviour. Organisations weighing up the cost of energy over the lifetime of the hardware will see a clear benefit to investing a little more in the initial outlay to reap the ongoing and long-term benefits of lower operational costs.

Of course, that’s not even taking into account organisations’ sustainability and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) commitments, which will continue to drive purchasing decisions this year.

There are also operational changes that can be made. As a company, SolarWinds deals with monitoring IT environments. We look at KPIs and metrics, around things like CPU utilisation, for example. When we deal with a server or an application stack, we ideally want to see a green – low – number, so there are enough resources in case there is a sudden spike in CPU utilisation.

But if IT is running several servers with very low utilisation, they are simply wasting money and energy, because they are not being fully utilised. So in a perfect world, we would tolerate a higher CPU utilisation for greater efficiency.

However, we understand that makes everyone nervous about what would happen should the organisation need to meet a spike in demand for more resources. But still, a change in mindset is required; we need to learn to accept those red higher utilisation rates – that 80-90% might be a smart use of CPU or memory utilisation.

Investing in people

With the focus so often on investment in new technology, it can be easy to forget about investing in people. But it really should be top of mind, especially given the global talent shortage. And if you don’t have humans, you can’t begin to start on any digital transformation or optimisation projects. But it’s not easy to attract and retain talent across the board, and the problem is even more acute in the public sector which struggles to compete on salaries with the private sector.

So what can the public sector do to become a more attractive employer?

A lot of stuff is obvious, admittedly – but not as easy to implement. However, it can look at providing career paths and training, because no one likes to work in a role full of repetitive tasks for the long haul. Make sure there are routes into other topics and technologies for IT professionals.

Also, offer flexible working hours and the ability to work where best suits them, when possible. This approach doesn’t need any great investment but can help significantly with attracting talent.

Of course this is all set against a background of tough economic conditions and a tightening of the purse strings. The days of having to spend the entire year’s budget to ensure the same budget again the following year are long gone. This means the public sector will need to be creative with their investments.

The good news is that areas like automation don’t require huge investment. Organisations can use simple scripting languages to increase efficiency in their day-to-day operations. There are also lots of use cases of artificial intelligence (AI) at work in the public sector. But even with technology like AI to support us, it will be humans driving that creativity.

Observability of all technologies

Alongside better managing IT energy usage and developing talent, observability will become even more critical in 2023.

In the public sector, customers are citizens, and many now want to access their services digitally – particularly the digital-first generation that have grown up with smartphones. That’s an ongoing challenge for the public sector.

The public sector needs solutions that can deal with existing legacy tech but are open enough to deal with modern technology. Some in the public sector might already play with Kubernetes, but many still use mainframes. The reality is somewhere in between.

So it’s impractical if an observability system focuses on only one of those areas; organisations need a system that looks at all those technology layers and helps the organization grow and develop their technology maturity levels. They need something that pays equal attention to the different levels of technology.

Once again, that’s where the public sector needs people, and must continue to invest in them to bridge that gap.