Lost Generations of IT People in the Cloud

Michael Vizard
Slide Show

10 TEC Predictions for 2011

Key predictions and trends for the coming year from The Experts Conference (TEC).

It's pretty clear right now that a fundamental shift is under way in terms of how we manage enterprise IT. Most of that shift gets wrapped up in phrases such as "cloud computing" and "data center convergence." But when you peel back all of the marketing hype, fundamental change is coming to the way IT is managed.


Like all changes, this general shift creates opportunities for some and risks for others. The simple fact of the matter is that there are legions of IT people who have been trained to perform tasks that are going to increasingly become automated. The reason this is happening is two-fold. One is that vendors are getting much better at providing management layers that allow IT to be managed at higher levels of abstraction. Slowly, but surely, the need to manually configure servers and ports is going away. The second big driver of this trend is the demands of senior business leaders. They not only want to reduce the number of people and systems that need to be managed in order to reduce costs, but they also want IT systems that are more adept at responding to changes in the business.


What this means is that we could be looking at several generations of lost IT people that have skills that may no longer be required. A fair number of them will make the transition to managing IT at a higher level. But it's a certainty that large numbers of IT people will not make that transition, which could result in many people exiting the IT professional altogether. And this issue doesn't just affect the IT people currently working in this industry. Chances are that this issue will adversely affect an untold number of students who are learning to manage IT systems today that are probably already obsolete.


The latest example of this shift towards higher levels of automation comes in the form of Cisco's acquisition today of LineSider Technologies, which provides tools for automating the management of network service in the cloud.

The IT industry as a whole needs to be a lot more proactive about educating the its people about what, exactly, is happening. Many of them are reluctant to have this conversation because they don't want to be seen as working towards eliminating the jobs of the people they count on to promote and manage their wares. And yet, this is what is essentially happening.

The fact that the worldwide economy is in the doldrums doesn't help matters. If anything, it may accelerate the trend towards increased reliance on IT automation.
But as Lew Tucker, CTO for cloud computing at Cisco, notes, there is no getting away from reality. We may not know exactly how long it will take for this whole cloud computing phenomenon to play out. But it is certain that the management of IT will become more declarative as we add more layers of IT automation.


The challenge facing IT professionals is going to be how to define their role in a world where IT truly is an automated service and the applications essentially manage themselves.

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