Krishna Sai, SolarWinds

IT pros worry over the data fuelling AI

SolarWinds survey reveals enthusiasm for new tech tempered by operational challenges
Krishna Sai, SolarWinds

21 June 2024

IT professionals lack confidence in their organisation’s readiness to deploy emerging AI technologies, according to a SolarWinds survey of nearly 700 enterprise technologists published last week.

Less than half of respondents believed their company’s internal databases were ready for AI and more than one-third expressed concerns about data used to train large language models.

Despite the wariness, organisations are racing to adopt the technology. Nearly two-thirds of companies had already invested $5 million or more in emerging AI capabilities and almost one-third had spent more than $25 million on the technology, according to the report.

IT pros are understandably bullish on the potential of LLM-based technologies. As enterprises build complex hybrid cloud ecosystems, their tech teams have leaned on machine learning to automate IT processes, assist in anomaly detection and help nip technical glitches in the bud.

But generative AI’s rapid advance has set off alarms, as IT practitioners assess the state of the data that animates LLMs.

While nearly 90% of IT staff and leaders reported a positive opinion of AI in Solarwinds’ survey, more than half wanted more tangible proof of the technology’s benefits. Nearly half reported a negative experience with AI, mostly related to data privacy and security issues.

“There’s a lot that can be gained from AI, given the challenges that IT pros are facing these days,” Krishna Sai, SVP of engineering at SolarWinds (pictured), said. “But we do need to think about it more holistically, so that we can build it as a sustainable thing, rather than just a flash in the pan.”

SolarWinds announced last month that it was embedding generative AI across its enterprise software solutions, beginning with a service desk implementation. The tool operates as a help desk assistant’s assistant, summarizing ticket histories and suggestion agent responses, Sai said.

More than one-third of businesses already used AI tools to ease IT operations, according to the survey. But security concerns remain the most significant adoption barrier for nearly one-quarter of IT professionals, according to the survey. The majority of respondents – 72% – said they’d welcome increased government regulation addressing security.

Security is a salient issue for SolarWinds, too. The company is still dealing with fallout from a series of supply chain attacks by the threat actor Nobelium in 2020. In 2023, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed civil charges against SolarWinds and its CISO claiming it misled investors about security capabilities. The company disputes the charges.

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