Blog Post 7 Top Trends in Infrastructure and Operations (I&O) in 2023

Rising costs. A growing skills gap. Widening tool sprawl. Again this year, enterprises will demand even more from their IT organizations, putting pressure on Infrastructure and Operations (I&O) teams to drive digital transformation.

7 Top Trends in Infrastructure & Operations (I&O) in 2023

Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in January 2021, but is updated each year with our latest predictions. Here are the IT infrastructure trends we see for 2023.

2023’s top trends in infrastructure and operations (I&O) revolve around IT teams meeting new and changing expectations in growth, scalability, and security — all familiar territory for I&O leaders. The move to the cloud, for instance, has been elevating I&O’s responsibilities and profile for quite some time. Yet the cloud has taken on outsized importance as enterprises make digital products and services the centerpiece of their success strategies.

In 2023 and beyond, the most effective I&O teams will be known for the innovation they create — instead of the infrastructure they manage. Read on to learn how.

1. Applied Observability

In its Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2023, Gartner predicts that “by 2026, 70% of organizations that successfully applied observability will achieve shorter latency for decision making, enabling competitive advantage for target business or IT processes.

Applied observability involves the systematic use of observable data across business functions, applications, and I&O teams. This data is organized and engineered with a semantic understanding of its business context, creating both active and passive metadata. Then by strategically using this metadata, organizations can make more informed, consistent, and effective business and IT decisions.

To successfully adopt applied observability, organizations should focus on implementing it at the business, application, and infrastructure layers and strive for proactive decision-making with minimal latency. Service orchestration and automation platforms (SOAPs) are especially well-suited to choreograph the efficient flow of data across all of these layers and throughout the enterprise, making it possible to gain a competitive edge by making data-informed decisions more quickly.

2. Low- and No-Code Automation

Today’s skills gap is not expected to improve any time soon. Due to rapid changes in technology and ways of working, Gartner predicts that by 2025, 80% of operational tasks will require skills that currently only a minority of the workforce possesses.

To address this issue, I&O leaders can implement a set of prioritized methods to change the skills portfolio of their organization. This can be done by creating a skills roadmap that emphasizes connected learning, digital dexterity, collaboration, and problem-solving.

To further support the development of these skills, advanced automation platforms empower users to visually design workflows that connect the dots between applications or platforms. This drag-and-drop capability makes automation more widely accessible for employees who may not have experience in coding or working with scripts.

By facilitating collaborative learning practices and enabling iterative delivery improvements, it’s possible to improve the capabilities of the I&O organization and meet the demands of the changing technological landscape.

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3. Cross-Functional Partnership and Collaboration

I&O leaders manage a large number of workload deployment options, but may not always have insight into the decision-making process. This can lead to inconsistencies and duplication of platform capabilities, and a lack of governance and efficiency. In 2023, the most effective I&O teams will deliver business outcomes by collaborating with teams across the IT universe, including DevOps, DataOps, and PlatformOps, to name a few.

Automation tools are particularly well suited to assisting I&O in meeting their counterparts’ needs. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2027, 75% of enterprises will integrate their various automation efforts to increase overall value, compared to less than 10% in 2022.

Furthermore, I&O teams can use self-service IT automation to help encourage collaboration and reduce workload for end-users… and themselves. Modern automation solutions provide role-appropriate access to sophisticated automated tasks and workflows via Teams and Slack. This, in turn, reduces manual workloads for end-users and I&O teams alike, while also improving I&O’s oversight of enterprise-wide automation.

4. Zero- or Minimal-Touch Maintenance, Including Automation

Ensuring continuous IT services is always a priority, but recent events underscore just how many ways IT services can be interrupted, such as extreme weather and unexpected life events.

I&O teams are turning to automation and zero- or minimal-touch maintenance to guarantee operational continuity regardless of external factors. In addition to lower costs and enhanced consistency across processes, automation improves efficiency and speeds up workload deployment.

Not all automation solutions, however, are created equal. Service orchestration and automation platforms (SOAPs), the successor to traditional workload automation solutions, are especially well suited to hardening IT services against threats from external events.

SOAPs excel at choreographing and securely managing applications and infrastructures across an enterprise-wide hybrid IT environment. Zero-touch comes into play with the right SOAP’s ability to run workflows in real-time via event-driven triggers that support IT processes like:

  • Provisioning computing, storage, and network resources on demand
  • Managed file transfers within the enterprise and with B2B vendors
  • Orchestration of data pipelines across on-prem systems and cloud applications

5. Workload Automation Yields to Service Orchestration and Automation

We’re well into the service orchestration and automation era — Gartner coined the term in April 2020. Service orchestration and automation platforms are steadily supplanting traditional workload automation solutions when organizations look for new or upgraded solutions.

Workload automation is still a vital part of IT automation. However, enterprises can now automate across hybrid IT environments by adding comprehensive cloud orchestration capabilities to the picture. The goal for any I&O team in today’s environment is to securely orchestrate automation across any of their disparate on-premises and cloud systems.

6. The Rise of Automation Architecture

Infrastructure architecture and cloud architecture are already well-established IT functions. The addition of automation architecture is a growing trend that will accelerate in 2023 and beyond.

At one level, automation architects will have their hands full rooting out pockets of opportunistic automation, which will help reduce costs and complexity. At a higher level, automation architecture seeks to eliminate these random acts of automation and replace them with a broader, more secure orchestration approach that supports enterprise strategy and objectives.

Gartner defines this as hyperautomation — automating as many business and IT processes as possible by orchestrating across multiple technologies, tools, and platforms.

The rise of automation architecture reflects the growing understanding that automation is an ongoing, multi-year journey. Implementing automation and infrastructure-as-code practices can help to reduce the labor costs associated with managing and maintaining IT systems. It also helps with tool sprawl — by centralizing orchestration, it’s easier to see overlapping technologies.

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7. More Support for Cloud Computing Initiatives

As IT spending shifts dramatically to public and private clouds, I&O teams feel the effects of change everywhere, from system infrastructure to software (both infrastructure and application).

IT teams are actively engaged in getting support from their technology vendors and other partners to make cloud projects successful and secure. A strong example of the support that helps I&O teams make the most of their public cloud initiatives is orchestrating managed file transfers in hybrid IT environments with Kubernetes. Another example is using automation to synchronize workloads and data pipelines across cloud platforms and applications.

Cloud initiatives support a growing range of digital workplace solutions and emerging technologies that automate processes and decisions. The goal is to enable a faster pace and scalable digital transformation. Support for this kind of I&O modernization is growing in number and value.

The Common Thread: Security

An imperative priority in itself, security is also a common thread that runs through every trend for 2023.  

Cybersecurity is an essential component of automating hybrid IT environments, so it’s critical to verify the security of any technology you implement in your organization. For instance, Stonebranch Universal Automation Center (UAC) is a service orchestration and automation platform that’s been reliably vetted through:

  • Three rounds of penetration tests by Secuvera, a BSI-certified IT security service provider
  • SOC 2® Type 2 audits that confirm SaaS security and availability
  • ISO 27001 certification, the international standard for information security management systems (ISMS)

UAC uses API- and agent-based integrations — as well as event-driven webhooks — to safely orchestrate enterprise-wide data flows, app connections, and cloud instances.

Meeting the Moment

Fueled by necessity and motivated by opportunity, enterprises have focused on building resilience, flexibility, and adaptability to future shocks. These trends in infrastructure and operations show that IT organizations have moved to the front lines of meeting these new challenges. By evaluating and responding to the trends identified here, I&O teams will ensure their continuing important role in helping their organizations meet top-level objectives.

One thing is certain, 2023 will bring about a more expansive I&O vision that embraces the organization’s shared mission, values, and goals.

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