Addressing public sector IT complexity


By Sascha Giese*
Wednesday, 19 June, 2024

Addressing public sector IT complexity

Observability can help government IT leaders reduce today’s system complexity and manage complex hybrid environments.

A well-executed home renovation goes beyond cosmetic repairs and surface-level aesthetics — it delves into the structural bones of a home. This approach doesn’t just revitalise the house’s appearance, but also enhances its overall integrity and efficiency. Meaningful digital transformation requires a similar approach.

The key to digital transformation in the public sector lies in unifying data. Over the years, the Australian Government’s data and digital ecosystem have become a hotchpotch of disjointed legacy systems, bespoke technologies1 and architecture solutions designed to solve common issues rather than address whole-of-government needs. With limited information flowing between these services, government employees are unable to obtain a unified view of data. This limits their ability to collaborate, make decisions and work efficiently.

To complicate matters further, most government organisations have moved at least part of their operations to the cloud. The current mix of legacy, hybrid, and cloud technologies makes it difficult for IT administrators to monitor and manage distributed network, cloud, system, application, and database infrastructure. In such circumstances, it isn’t unusual for different teams, departments, and agencies to acquire their own monitoring tools. The result? Even more complexity due to toolset overlap, inefficiency, and even shadow IT concerns.

To overcome these challenges, the government must streamline IT operations and prioritise end-to-end visibility across the IT stack. One long-term solution is observability, which provides centralised insights, automated analytics and actionable intelligence across on-premises and multi-cloud environments.

Let’s examine three ways that observability goes beyond traditional monitoring to help government IT leaders efficiently manage hybrid IT complexity.

1. Centralising visibility and reducing tool sprawl

Traditionally, government organisations adopted a diverse set of best-of-breed and bespoke products to monitor and manage different parts of their technology stacks. However, over time this approach has led to tool sprawl and escalating costs. Disparate monitoring tools often result in information silos, conflicting data and alert fatigue. This ultimately burdens IT teams seeking to obtain the comprehensive view of issues and outages required to ensure the continuity of mission-critical government systems.

Modern observability solutions provide end-to-end oversight of service delivery and component dependencies across on-premises, hybrid and multi-cloud environments. Through a single pane of glass, teams can receive health scores and insights from all networks, applications, databases and systems. This fully integrated view enables IT teams to identify and diagnose service issues and determine root causes more efficiently. It also allows teams to identify which tools are mission-critical and which are largely redundant. This supports efforts to ‘trim the fat’, leading to lower maintenance costs and optimised IT spending.

Having a single source of truth for the entire IT environment doesn’t just eliminate the need for costly piecemeal monitoring and IT management tools — it also frees employees to focus on higher-value work. Once they’re no longer required to chase down a barrage of alerts or errors that could be false positives, IT professionals can devote more energy to evaluating ways to improve the stability and uptime of crucial digital services. Beyond combating tool sprawl complexity and runaway costs, observability solutions offer government agencies an effective way to maximise their most valuable resource: talented and competent IT professionals.

2. Gaining foresight with AIOps

Observability solutions can apply cross-domain correlation, machine learning and artificial intelligence for IT operations (AIOps) to analyse data from across the entire IT environment, producing deep but digestible insights into network operations. With this intelligent view of an organisation’s sprawling infrastructure, government IT administrators can reduce alert noise and accelerate issue remediation.

AIOps-powered observability also allows administrators to anticipate network issues, detect anomalies and proactively address issues before they impact the availability of essential public services, employee experience and day-to-day operations. Machine learning technology means the solution will continually refine its intelligent alerting capabilities over time, improving the accuracy of alert logs while reducing time to resolution for the most common IT issues.

Imagine these capabilities deployed across the entire government organisation. AIOps has the potential to significantly accelerate organisation-wide IT analysis and response by automatically collecting and correlating all relevant background data for issue diagnosis from the patchwork of applications, systems or solutions used by various agency teams. IT teams are equipped with the intelligence and insight they need to build automated responses, ensuring that the right people are alerted and the proper processes are triggered at the appropriate time.

3. Modernising while maintaining legacy system support

The Australian Government’s new Data and Digital Government Strategy2 aims to deliver simple, secure and connected public services for all people and businesses through world-class data and digital capabilities by 2030. However, digital transformation of the public sector will require the digitisation of sensitive and confidential documents in various formats, usually for long-term preservation. The enormity of this task means that legacy IT systems will likely remain in place for some time, and IT admins will still need to manage complex hybrid environments.

The complexity and risks involved in hybrid IT environments cannot be understated. When even one minor misconfiguration or system outage can rapidly cascade and impact multiple systems before IT has time to react, proactive prevention and risk mitigation is key. On the most basic level, observability solutions built for hybrid cloud environments equip admins to better manage risks through combined visibility over both legacy and modern systems. This allows them to detect anomalous system interactions or deviations that could collectively cascade into a crippling outage.

Observability’s risk mitigation benefits also work the other way: facilitating managed integrations of new applications, services and infrastructure into the hybrid environment. By studying telemetry data created by both new and legacy infrastructure, IT teams will better understand the potential gaps and integration issues they may encounter down the line. This empowers them to allocate the appropriate resources to build a solution before that happens. Proactivity is further supported by AIOps, which introduces the possibilities of automated self-remediation and improved resiliency in hybrid environments. IT teams can uphold service continuity and stability without being bogged down by the inherent complexity and ambiguity of hybrid environments.

All in all, government agencies are better served by observability solutions designed for today’s dynamic hybrid cloud environments. By leveraging an observability solution that can be self-hosted or in the cloud, government agencies can select the deployment option that works for them, now and in the future.

Less is more: the key to simplifying public sector infrastructures

The current mix of legacy, hybrid and cloud technologies used by the government has created a complex operational environment. IT teams should prioritise observability to address this complexity before implementing the Data and Digital Government Strategy. With end-to-end visibility, IT administrators can properly oversee their entire IT infrastructure, sunset piecemeal monitoring tools and increase productivity with AIOps.

The advantages of observability aren’t limited to the management of complex hybrid environments. Equipped with the right observability solution, government agencies will also have the confidence and control they need to build, deploy and stabilise future digital services that meet the ever-evolving needs of citizens. Ultimately, observability will ensure that the government’s new digital architecture improves service delivery for citizens and provides meaningful benefits to public sector employees.

1. Commonwealth of Australia, Mission: Simple and seamless services, Data and Digital Government Strategy, <<>>
2. Digital Transformation Agency, Data and Digital Government Strategy, <<>>

*Sascha Giese has more than 15 years of technical IT experience, four of which have been as a senior pre-sales engineer at SolarWinds. As a senior pre-sales engineer, Sascha was responsible for product training SolarWinds channel partners and customers, regularly participated in the annual SolarWinds Partner Summit EMEA, and contributed in the company’s professional certification program, SolarWinds Certified Professional.

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