by Byron Connolly

IT departments lack IoT skills

Jul 16, 2015
Technology Industry

Many Australian firms feel that they are ill-equipped to deal with changes in their workforces as devices and robots become more intelligent, according to new research.

A SolarWinds study involving 200 Australian IT executives found that insufficient skills is the top barrier (30 per cent of respondents) to the uptake of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies.

IDC describes the IoT of things as a scenario where physical objects seamlessly connect to the Internet and become active participants in business processes. It’s underpinned by machine-to-machine communication, where a device captures an event, transmits it over a network to an app, and translates it into meaningful data.

As more and more IoT devices are added to networks, IT teams will need to deal with increased complexity with almost 80 per cent of firms with 200 or more staff saying IoT will make their network management more difficult.

Almost half (47 per cent) were already spending more than 10 hours each month managing IP addresses.

Joel Dolisy, CIO at SolarWinds, said network management and monitoring is a critical component of a successful IoT environment, and as a result, a necessity for organisations looking to harness the potential of smart devices.

He said that although people understand how to do IP address management, things become much more difficult when there are ‘tens of thousands’ of devices connected to a network.

“This is a about making sure the workforce understands what they don’t know and also what type of training you need to give them or what type of tools they need to be able to do the job,” he said.

“Businesses need to arm IT professionals with the skills and capability needed not only to maintain visibility over the growing number of connected devices but also to pinpoint potential IT infrastructure issues to minimise impact to the networks and application performance.”

John Rizzo, senior VP and GM for SolarWinds Pacific Region, added that network and storage resources are no longer being managed on-site, which is also adding to the complexity.

“Think about a Fitbit being connected to a Bluetooth signal [which talks to] an iPhone, which is connected to a cloud service hosted on Amazon. The [skills] required to manage and maintain this environment are entirely different to the skills [required] to manage on-premise data centre,” he said.

IT professionals who knew how to do one thing in one silo before are now being asked to figure out how to solve IT problems that they might not have any knowledge of, said Rizzo.

“So if my Fitbit isn’t working, I’m not going to spend a lot of time as a consumer trying to figure out if it’s the WiFi network or the data centre in which my data is residing, I don’t really care.

“An IT professional somewhere who has a red alert popping up on a screen – they may not have the skill or knowledge to troubleshoot an issue that might be caused by a database or virtual machine or storage system because their traditional training was in networking.”

“The hybrid IT challenge creates an IT skills gap because the world is moving too quickly for everybody to pick up all these skills simultaneously so the tools need to be designed to allow these users to solve more problems than they were initially trained to do.”

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