Security and automation are top priorities for IT professionals

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Data protection and lack of budgets and resources continue to present the biggest challenges as cyberattacks increase, according to a new Kaseya report.

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The top three priorities for tech professionals are improvement of security, cloud migration and automation to increase IT productivity, according to Kaseya's newly released 2021 IT Operations Report.

The report surveyed nearly 1,000 IT professionals worldwide between April and May 2021 about their top priorities and challenges. The main three challenges are cybersecurity and data protection, lack of IT budgets and resources to meet demands and legacy systems hampering growth and innovation.

The survey found that 30% of respondents felt that there was not enough budget or resources to meet demands, making it one of the top three biggest challenges for professionals surveyed, the report said. More than a third (38%) of respondents said that their budget has increased in 2021. This is consistent with other surveys that are reporting an increase in technology spending this year, the Kaseya report said.

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"Many businesses are back in a growth mode post-pandemic. For 35% of the respondents, their IT budget stayed the same this year as compared to 2020," the report said.

Nearly one-third of respondents were also found struggling to meet current demands due to budget and resource constraints. This is a perennial problem for most IT departments. The pandemic has accelerated the need for digital transformation, which IT teams have had to accommodate, at times with fewer staff and smaller budgets.

Legacy systems hampering growth and innovation is the third key challenge that nearly one-quarter of the respondents (24%) are faced with in 2021. Modernizing legacy systems is another perennial problem.

Rising cyberattacks

Organizations across the globe have experienced crippling cyberattacks over the past year that have significantly impacted the global supply chain. Due to the growing number of threats, 61% of respondents said that improving security measures continues to be the dominant priority.

Cybersecurity systems topped the list of what IT professionals plan to invest in for 2022, with 53% of respondents planning to budget for email security tools such as phishing prevention, and 33% of respondents investing in ransomware protection.

Cloud technologies were also top of mind this year, with 54% saying their IaaS cloud spending will increase and 36% anticipating growth in spending on SaaS applications. Cloud migration was also a high priority for respondents in 2021, which accounted for migrations across PaaS, IaaS and SaaS software.

IT professionals also want to increase their productivity through automation, which ranked second in top technologies for investment. Almost half of respondents stated that they will allocate funds for this in 2021.

The second-highest priority, "Cloud migration," ties in with digital transformation initiatives and brings multiple benefits to an organization, the report said. "Cloud services allow IT teams to easily scale service delivery to meet organizational needs. Leveraging cloud infrastructure services helps reduce hardware and IT management costs associated with traditional on-premises equipment."

Another top priority was increasing IT productivity through automation, which nearly tied with cloud migration. Also increasing the demand on IT is the growth in the number and diversity of endpoints and devices that IT teams must manage, the report said. This includes management of virtual machines, mobile devices, cloud infrastructure and commercial IoT. Automation is the key to increasing IT operational efficiency.

Following close behind were more strategic priorities such as reducing IT costs and supporting their company's business innovation initiatives. Business innovation is another key priority for companies that aim to sustain and grow in 2021 amid a fast-evolving market.

Cybersecurity and data protection challenges

Cybersecurity and data protection are significant challenges for 54% of IT professionals surveyed. When it comes to data protection, misconceptions still linger, according to the report. While 82% understand that SaaS applications such as Microsoft 365, Google Workspace and Salesforce need to be backed up, 60% of respondents stated that they believe SaaS providers are responsible for data protection.

Typically, the SaaS customer is responsible for their application data backups to ensure recovery in the event of a cyberattack or user/admin error, the report said.

The importance of integration and automation

Time-saving automation and integrations between key software systems are crucial for IT professionals' continued productivity and success, according to the report. Half of the respondents rated automation of IT processes through their endpoint management solution as important, while 47% rated the ability to run automation scripts through their IT documentation tool as critical to their success, the report said.

Additionally, more than half of respondents stated that access to IT documentation through their service desk was crucial to their work. 

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