The Rise of the Super Administrator

Michael Vizard

There's no question that data center convergence is upon us, so the only thing that remains to be worked out is how IT organizations are going to live with it.

IT personnel of all stripes are more than a little concerned about the implications of data center convergence. Obviously, if all the server, storage and networking assets can brought together under a common framework, the potential to consolidate jobs becomes a real threat to a lot of IT specialists.

But Gary Thome, chief architect for Hewlett-Packard's Infrastructure Software and Blades, argues that rather than leading to the elimination of jobs, data center convergence is going to lead to higher levels of cooperation among diverse IT specialists and the rise of a new super administrator role that will focus primarily on rolling out new applications.

Thome bases his case on the fact that one of the biggest issues IT organizations have is getting the server, storage and networking teams to cooperate when it comes to rolling out a new application. A converged data center architecture, however, allows an application to be deployed by a single super administrator that can set all the server, storage and networking parameters required for the application by leveraging a single point of management such as HP's Virtual Connect software.

But from the perspective of managing the environment, Thome says that distinct roles for server, storage and networking specialists will still be required given the complexity of managing those technologies. We'll definitely see enhanced cooperation across those specialties, but the day when a server specialist is capable of also being the networking specialist is not upon us, says Thome.

At the same time, Thome acknowledges that the potential employment implications of data center convergence has definitely become a factor in when it comes to getting customers to embrace the next generation of integrated servers.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Jan 13, 2010 5:01 AM Cameron Sturdevant Cameron Sturdevant  says:
Good story, just a couple extra thoughts: It's an old tune, "new technology won't eliminate IT jobs, it will let those people work smarter." Funny enough it's a tune I still like to listen to and believe. My work with a Cisco's Unified Computing System showed something very similar to what Mike highlights in Gary Thome's comments. It still takes a tremendous amount of technical savvy to set up the compute/memory/networking resource pools that the "IT Super Administrator" then uses to instantiate a new application. There will be, for quite some time to come, a man/woman behind the curtain making all that Super Admin stuff look easy. Reply
Oct 31, 2010 9:10 PM Richard Shepard Richard Shepard  says:
Frederick Brooks talked about this 35 years ago in The Mythical Man-Month. He devoted an entire essay to what he called the surgeon's model. There is a chief surgeon and everybody else in the room has a role to assist him/her. Brooks even suggested a way to translate the concept to IT. So, why is this idea just now taking hold? Reply

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