Last week, SolarWinds released the findings of its IT Trends Report 2016: The Hybrid IT Evolution. The study, based on survey data gathered in December 2015 from IT practitioners, managers and directors from a wide range of backgrounds, explores the state of cloud adoption and reveals trends in business IT that the channel can leverage to create opportunity.

The study indicates that hybrid IT will be the norm for the near future. While nearly all (92 percent) of the IT professionals surveyed say adopting cloud technologies is important to their organizations’ long-term business success, only 43 percent estimate that half or more of their organization’s IT infrastructure would go to the cloud within the next three to five years. Furthermore, 60 percent say it’s unlikely that all of their organizations’ infrastructure will ever be migrated to the cloud.

Kong Yang, SolarWinds official Head Geek, says that while the data was collected from internal IT professionals, their responses can serve as guideposts for VARs and MSPs. The respondents reported they need new skills, tools and resources in order to succeed in this hybrid IT paradigm. Only 27 percent are certain their IT organizations currently have adequate resources to manage a hybrid IT environment. Every one of the top five skills gaps the study identified, Yang says, is a channel opportunity.

  1. Hybrid IT monitoring/management tools and metrics (48 percent)
  2. Application migration (41 percent)
  3. Distributed architectures (32 percent)
  4. Service-oriented architectures (31 percent)
  5. Automation/vendor management (tied at 30 percent)

VARs, MSPs and other channel companies are all searching for higher margin services to offer to their customers as margins on hardware thin and traditional software plays are moving toward anything-as-a-service models.

“There is a shortage of IT pros with the requisite skillsets to bridge this new paradigm of hybrid IT,” says Yang. “I think that’s where the opportunity is for VARs and MSPs in the channel.”

Yang says that business IT today have three high-level mandates, what he calls the CIO’s SLA: IT solutions must be Secure, Lean and Agile. As companies struggle to maintain high levels of security while managing shrinking budgets and cumbersome legacy systems, they will increasingly rely on the VARs and MSPs to supplement internal resources and fill gaps in skillsets.

“Where VARs, MSPs and the channel can leverage this SolarWinds trends IT report is to identify those gaps,” says Yang. “Maybe they stand up a security practice they can provide as a managed service. Maybe they stand up an application migration service that will aid their customers as they migrate into cloud. “

The below infographic illustrates the current state of IT professionals, including long-term goals and areas in which they could use the help of skilled service providers. The full, interactive study is available here.