As software becomes more complex and demands scalability of the cloud, IT’s mechanics of today, the systems administrator, will disappear. Tomorrow’s systems administrator will be entirely unlike anything we have today.
For as long as there have been computer systems, there has always been a group of individuals managing them and monitoring them named system administrators. These individuals were the glue of data centers, responsible for provisioning and managing systems. From the monolithic platforms of the old ages to todays mixed bag approach of hardware, storage, operating systems, middleware, and software.
The typical System Administrator usually possessed super human diagnostic skills and repair capabilities to keep a complex mix of various disparate systems humming along happily. The best system administrators have always been the “Full Stack” individuals who were armed with all skills needed to keep systems up and running but these individuals were few and far between.
Data centers have become more complex over the past decade as systems have been broken down, deconstructed into functional components and segregated into groupings. Storage has been migrated to centralized blocks like a SAN and NAS thus inevitably forcing personnel to become specialized in specific tasks and skills.
Over the years, this same trend has happened with Systems Infrastructure Engineers/Administrators, Network Engineers/Administrators and Application Engineers/Administrators.
Everywhere you look intelligence is being built directly into products.I was browsing the aisle at Lowe’s this past weekend and noted that clothes washers, dryers, and refrigerators are now being shipped equipped with WIFI and NFC to assist with troubleshooting problems, collecting error logs and opening problem service tickets. No longer do we need to pour over those thousand pages long manuals looking for error code EC2F to tell us that the water filter has failed, the software can do it for us! Thus is has become immediately apparent that if tech such as this has made its way into low-level basic consumer items things must be changing even more rapidly at the top.
I obviously work in the tech industry and would like to think of myself as a technologist and someone who is very intrigued by emerging technologies. Electric cars, drones, remotely operated vehicles, smartphones, laptops that can last 12+ hours daily while fitting in your jeans pocket and the amazing ability to order items from around the globe and have them shipped to your door. These things astound me.
The modern car was invented in 1886 and in 1903, we invented the airplane. The first commercial air flight was not until 1914 but to see how far we have come in such a short time is astounding. It almost makes you think we were asleep for the last Century prior.
As technology has evolved there has been a need for software to also evolve at a similarly rapid pace. In many ways, we have outpaced software with hardware engineering over the last Score and now software is slowly catching up and surpassing hardware engineering.
Calm down, I know I am rambling again. I will digress and get to the point.
The fact is, the Systems Administrator as we know it is a dying breed. Like the dinosaur, the caveman and the wooly mammoth. All of these were great at some things but never enough to stay alive and thus were wiped out.
So what happens next? Do we all lose our jobs? Does the stock fall into a free fall and we all start drinking Brawndo the Thirst Mutilator (if you havent seen Idiocracy I feel for you.) The fact is, it’s going to be a long, slow and painful death.
Companies are going to embrace cloud at a rapid rate and as this happens people will either adapt or cling to their current ways. Not every company is going to be “cloudy”.
Stop. Let me state something. I absolutely HATE the word Cloud. It sounds so stupid. Cloud. Cloud. Cloud. Just say it. How about we all instead embrace the term share nothing scalable distributed computing. That sounds better.
So, is this the end of the world? No, but it does mean “The Times They Are a Changin” to quote Mr. Dylan.
A fact is, change is inevitable. If things didn’t change we would still be living in huts, hunting with our bare hands and using horses as our primary methods of transportation. We wouldn’t have indoor toilets, governments, rules, regulations, or protection from others as there would be no law system.
Sometimes change is good and sometimes its bad. In this case, I see many good things coming down the road but I think we all need to see the signs posted along the highway.
Burying ones head in the dirt like an Ostrich is not going to protect you.