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General Chat Thread, The Future of Employment in IT Support in General; What interesting comments from everyone! im personally at that juction in the road now after being an IT manager for ...
  1. #31

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    What interesting comments from everyone! im personally at that juction in the road now after being an IT manager for 7 years (IT support in general for 12 years), and deciding which way to turn!

  2. #32

    localzuk's Avatar
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    I think one of the things I've seen happening is not the replacement of internal systems with BYOD and cloud computing, but the addition of these technologies. Schools haven't replaced their suites with iPads - they've implemented both. Sure, this can mean less suites as some of the stuff done is now done via those iPads, but the suites still remain - for exams, for video editing, for music, for writing essays, for control, etc...

    The same in business. I've seen a few sales people in the last few years who now turn up with an iPad in their bag - along with their laptop. They use the iPad to show off documents and the like, but they still use their laptop to make those documents.

    The balance between the devices is shifting slightly - ie. the number of 'full fat' PCs needed in a business or school is dropping (but only a little), and these new devices appearing in greater numbers to replace them.

    The servers everything connects to are still mostly in-house everywhere I look. Sure, some services are now being outsourced to 'hosted' providers, but a lot can't do this due to connectivity (and this will always be the case, as many schools and businesses live in areas which are always going to be several steps behind the improvements in technologies), security - a legal services company is not going to stick its case files on Google Apps, just as a school should question whether it should put all its SEN data on some company's server, legality, interoperability, legacy requirements, and most of all - flexibility. Flexibility is why many BSF IT schemes failed, as those companies that tried to offer it couldn't make any money (Bristol and Northgate from what I've heard) and those who didn't offer it have locked their schools into a rigid regime which holds the schools back and at the end of it they simply want out of the contract.

    I simply can't see system admins disappearing any time soon.

  3. #33

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    I recall that Head at Berkhamsted saying three years ago that this would happen, with all the other rumours and industry predictions that have been flying around since. I think all we can do is be cautious about our longer-term career prospects, while not buying into every bit of cloud-hype we read.

    I think the most ironic thing is that IT Departments that were previously innovators in decades past would have advocated replacing people with computers to save money, improve efficiency etc... yet it's now those same computers (but managed by someone else) that are threatening to take our own jobs away!

    Maybe we just had it coming.

  4. #34

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    Must admit I find myself nodding my head to a lot of the comments on here. I do believe we are heading to the situation where the jobs of Network manager, Senior support analyst and those 'mid level' jobs will be heading for the cloud. This can easily mean outsourcing these jobs to countries where they can get away with paying in western terms a pittance but local terms a decent salary. Of course this will even itself out in the long run if that economy strengthens and it becomes less attractive proposition.

    I do believe in 10 years time your 'on site' IT support will be low paid techies to do the hands on stuff with mobile devices, printers and PC's. Then a giant gap up to Senior Management who will work in partnership with cloud computing companies to do the higher skilled back end stuff.

    The foreign based cloud computer companies will compromise of technicians, senior technicians and network managers. There will probably be consultants, project managers etc but they will be UK based.

    Definitely think its make up your mind time.

  5. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ephelyon View Post
    I recall that Head at Berkhamsted saying three years ago that this would happen, with all the other rumours and industry predictions that have been flying around since. I think all we can do is be cautious about our longer-term career prospects, while not buying into every bit of cloud-hype we read.

    I think the most ironic thing is that IT Departments that were previously innovators in decades past would have advocated replacing people with computers to save money, improve efficiency etc... yet it's now those same computers (but managed by someone else) that are threatening to take our own jobs away!

    Maybe we just had it coming.
    It's not just us. Take street cleaners. In 20 years' time they won't have a job. A robot will do it all. Fruit pickers? Machines are already taking it over. Farmers are now buying tractors which are slaved to a central console. GPS and automation allow a single farmer to control the precise movements of a dozen tractors across several fields. Nurses and doctors? You'll slap your patient on a bed, which will diagnose the patient more accurately than a doctor, provide medication more effectively than a nurse. Robotisation, and computerisation, is going to change whole swathes of employment, and will leave large chunks of the population unemployable. It already has in some fields.

    There'll still be jobs for some people. No matter how good a computerised medical bed is at healing it won't be able to hold a patient's hand or comfort someone who is dying, for example. But those areas which can be more efficiently carried out by machines will be. But so many areas will just disappear. I think it's a real concern because the way our lives are structured at present, we rely on work to better our circumstances. An awful lot of people are going to have to get used to not being able to better themselves because they don't have the ability or skills and they just can't learn them.

  6. #36

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    Oh I know, it's just ironic that it would happen to us in particular, as not so long ago we were at the forefront of the tech movement that began to change all that with other professions. Now it's our own turn I suppose...

  7. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ephelyon View Post
    Oh I know, it's just ironic that it would happen to us in particular, as not so long ago we were at the forefront of the tech movement that began to change all that with other professions. Now it's our own turn I suppose...
    Ironic indeed. IT is going to be one of the shortest-lived industries ever, and the main reason is that we were just too damn amazing at our jobs.

  8. #38

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    Plus the demand from everyone else for more and more automation (once they jumped on our bandwagon) was enormous, otherwise we might've lasted a while longer...

  9. #39

    localzuk's Avatar
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    There's only one outcome from all this... The end of humanity. Obviously.

    Skynet is coming, and it's probably going to be made by Apple.

  10. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    There's only one outcome from all this... The end of humanity. Obviously.

    Skynet is coming, and it's probably going to be made by Apple.
    At least our agonising deaths will be stylishly unaffordable.

  11. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    There's only one outcome from all this... The end of humanity. Obviously.

    Skynet is coming, and it's probably going to be made by Apple.
    If anyone would exterminate humanity for a quick buck they would.

  12. #42

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    There will always be jobs in IT for the people with 'current' skills. I have worked in the IT industry since the early 1970s and have seen many technologies come and go, the one constant is that IT products are still designed by people & contain defects because of that. I think there will always be a need for the human element. I have had a rich & varied career working in some of the largest data centres in Europe and more latterly looking after a school network of 800 PCs. I have been fortunate to have been in full employment all my life by adapting as things changed. It's no good sticking your head in the sand.

    Have you ever stopped to wonder why you can take 30x identical PCs out of their boxes, image them, install software and at the end find that they have not all behaved identically?

    I put it down to being designed, built, & coded by humans, who unwittingly introduce minor errors & faults which are minutely sensitive to timing & yield different results as a fluke.

    The trick to staying employable is being flexible & having the skills that are in demand. There are a number of members on Edugeek who like me cut their teeth on mainframes such as IBM System 360, who have seen centralised IT, decentralised IT, 3-tier client/server IT, thin client, VDI all come and go. We are in another iteration at present.

    I am sitting on the fence as far as cloud computing is concerned; to me it looks like another cycle of data centre dominance but I have seen that come and go a couple of times; it remains to be seen how many 'enterprises' embrace cloud. I can more readily see some of them going down the private 'cloud' route.

    Cloud computing offers much for end users, but the occasional well publicised 'cloud bursts' in recent years might put a lot of people (like me) off.

    I have been discussing the 'evolution' of IT in schools with my Head Teacher for a couple of years now; Trying to 2nd guess where the school wants to be in a few years time is difficult because staff still don't have a grasp of how things could change in the classroom.

    It's all pretty academic for me now as I shall be retired before the next wave of IT change hits my school
    Last edited by broc; 15th August 2013 at 08:58 AM.

  13. #43


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    Quote Originally Posted by broc View Post
    Cloud computing offers much for end users, but the occasional well publicised 'cloud bursts' in recent years might put a lot of people (like me) off.
    To me, true cloud computing means virtualisation. I keep having to point out to the cloud evangelist here that we already are running our services in a cloud - it just happens to be our cloud. Much of what people call cloud is just "web based" - it's the marketing men jumping on the latest buzzword bandwagon, not real innovation or progress.

    I think DOS-Box points at the direction we will take things in. Why do I want staff spending time dealing with patch issues. I certainly want servers that are patched and up-to date, but there is no way we can do that as efficiently as someone who specialises in providing a platform (and provides and patches 1000's of appliances). And even though our Virtual hosts have decreased the amount of iron we need (and energy and cooling), we still provision for peak loads, so 90% of the time we have processors running NOP loops. In other words we can't provide raw compute power as efficiently as someone who specialises in putting together large scale clusters - they will just sell us the processor cycles we actually use and that will make them money and save us money, hence it is compelling.

    Security and reliability is still a concern but there are strategies that can mitigate those risks and those are the very skills which will become more in demand (get in early and grab the cash!) in the SME space. We will need to integrate more with the business and understand how a commiditised IT infrastructure can be leveraged to meet the actual business requirements. It's not that what we do now isn't aligned with the needs of the business, but much of it is hugely decoupled from it.

    There was another pivot moment I experienced a few years ago. It was watching our first live migration of our database server using vmotion on our VMware cluster. The actual load shifted from our main to our backup server room while the database guest server continued to service various applications including MIS, cashless etc. Even the RDP session I had to the server didn't skip a beat. The only thing that prevents us moving that server further afield is WAN bandwidth, but that is coming.

    The other huge driver for schools is the emergence of Federations of Schools around large Academies. There are serious economies of scale to be had in IT by sharing resources among several schools. IMO that is a stepping stone to the cloud. We will build a bigger private cloud on those efficiencies after which, we will just stop buying iron and move the compute loads out to Amazon, Rackspace or Microsoft. Let them deal with the low level install, configuration and patching of the appliance/platform.

  14. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by pcstru View Post
    And even though our Virtual hosts have decreased the amount of iron we need (and energy and cooling), we still provision for peak loads, so 90% of the time we have processors running NOP loops. In other words we can't provide raw compute power as efficiently as someone who specialises in putting together large scale clusters - they will just sell us the processor cycles we actually use and that will make them money and save us money, hence it is compelling.
    But it is generally not cheaper, they can and do charge much more for the convenience, they are the ones saving the money and that goes right to their profit margin, the school gets sold on the idea of paying less but it usually never works out that way.
    Last edited by SYNACK; 15th August 2013 at 01:43 PM.

  15. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    But it is generally not cheaper, they can and do charge much more for the convenience, they are the ones saving the money and that goes right to their profit margin, the school gets sold on the idea of paying less but it usually never works out that way.
    Indeed. On the scale schools operate at, we're tiny rain droplets in the cloud. In my experience, looking at cloud based services, that sort of cost benefit doesn't happen until you have hundreds+ servers which have all been sat idling most of the time.

    For a school which can now run everything they want on a pair of decent servers and a couple of storage arrays, the costs don't stack up.

    Not to mention, moving to a subscription model increases financial obligations - something that schools do not like. Most would rather buy once and then be able to decide when to replace at some random time in the future, when their finances allow, than being forced to pay a fee every year.

    Not to mention being tied into proprietary platforms in the cloud - getting your data out of one cloud service and into another is much like moving MIS's - a complete nightmare.

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