Compared with other segments of the IT industry, such as software development and cybersecurity, change happens less often in the realm of IT operations. It's rare to see true disruption to the way IT teams work.
But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't expect any new IT operations trends in 2024. On the contrary, there are several developments that are likely to influence — if not reshape — ITOps over the coming 12 months.
- A Growing Need to Support Hybrid Workers
- Investment in Employee Experience
- IT Departments Abandon VPNs
- GenAI's Impact on IT Plays Out Fully — but Remains Limited
- IT Engineers Become Coders
- More IT Tools and Skills to Learn
1. A Growing Need to Support Hybrid Workers
It turns out that fully remote work is not here to stay, despite predictions to the contrary in past years. The vast majority of workers face mandates to return to the office — but not necessarily full-time. Many organizations with return-to-office policies still allow employees to work from home one or two days a week.
For IT operations teams, this means that delivering a great hybrid work experience — and attending to the unique security, reliability, and other challenges of remote work — will be a priority in 2024. Many IT departments are already familiar with these requirements because they supported fully remote workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. But permanent hybrid work changes the norm a bit by demanding that IT departments deliver an excellent and consistent experience for employees wherever they are located. That's different from supporting completely remote workers.
2. Investment in Employee Experience
Delivering a better employee experience has become a key focus as businesses struggle to keep employees engaged, and IT operations teams are an essential part of the solution. After all, most employees rely heavily on digital services, and the quality of those services depends in large part on how IT departments design, implement, and support them.
For that reason, expect IT engineers to face greater pressure to optimize the employee experience in 2024. More IT departments will be asked to track metrics related to employee experience and engagement and prioritize internal customers just as much as external ones.
3. IT Departments Abandon VPNs
For decades, virtual private network (VPN) technology has been the go-to solution for IT operations teams who needed to connect to firewalled resources from remote locations.
Going into 2024, however, it's feeling like the days of the traditional VPN are numbered. VPNs are cumbersome for users, who sometimes struggle to configure them on their devices. They are also not very effective for securing apps that companies don't host themselves on-prem — which means most apps today. And they can degrade network performance.
For all of these reasons, expect 2024 to be the year when IT departments begin replacing VPNs with alternative approaches to remote connectivity, such as Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA). VPNs will continue to exist, but they won't be a primary solution for connecting remote users to firewalled resources.
4. Generative AI's Impact on IT Plays Out Fully — but Remains Limited
The past year has brought us no end to predictions about how generative AI can potentially transform IT operations, along with virtually every other facet of business. 2024 is poised to be the year when generative AI solutions for IT operations enjoy full adoption.
Don't expect, however, generative AI to revolutionize ITOps over the coming year. AI can help IT teams with tasks like summarizing tickets and communicating with users, but it can't automate many of the tasks that fill the typical IT engineer's day.
In short, expect to see more AI-powered ITOps tools in 2024, but don't expect them to become true game-changers.
5. IT Engineers Become Coders
I predict that in 2024, this capability will lead to increased pressure on IT operations engineers to code. Learning programming languages has long been a way to increase one's value as an IT engineer, and now that AI has lowered the barrier to entry for coding, the ability to churn out at least basic code, even if most of it is generated by AI, will become more central to the way IT operations teams work.
6. More IT Tools and Skills to Learn
Traditionally, IT teams typically had to master a finite set of technologies — whichever tools and platforms their business chose to use.
But that has changed as more businesses deploy workloads across multiple clouds using complex and varied technology stacks. In 2024 and beyond, IT engineers should expect growing pressure to be able to work with whichever technologies are thrown at them.
Meeting this challenge will require a focus on learning fundamental IT skills, as opposed to gaining experience with specific tools. Engineers will need to learn, for example, how to work with infrastructure-as-code in general, as opposed to mastering a specific tool like Terraform. Likewise, they'll need to familiarize themselves with all public cloud platforms, not learn Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud Platform (GCP) alone.
Conclusion: IT Trends to Watch in 2024
At a high level, 2024 is likely to mean business as usual for IT operations teams. But IT engineers should expect small changes, like an increased focus on employee experience, more expectations to write code — with help from AI, when necessary — and demand for more versatile IT skill sets.
Which one of these ITOps predictions will impact your IT operations team the most this year? Sound off below.
About the authorChristopher Tozzi is a technology analyst with subject matter expertise in cloud computing, application development, open source software, virtualization, containers and more. He also lectures at a major university in the Albany, New York, area. His book, “For Fun and Profit: A History of the Free and Open Source Software Revolution,” was published by MIT Press.