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General Chat Thread, The Future of Employment in IT Support in General; It's now or never for old sysadmins to learn new tricks . Interesting article - and I think I agree ...
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    The Future of Employment in IT Support

    It's now or never for old sysadmins to learn new tricks.

    Interesting article - and I think I agree with the general thrust. End point devices are becoming more 'consumer' focused requiring little or no 'IT' support, infrastructure is moving from the server room into the cloud and corporate networks are (and will) being replaced by 3/4G connections to large networks which can already support high density of users. The need for system administrators won't be entirely eliminated but where before there were teams of 4-6 people to look after a SME's servers, network & endpoints, in future that will reduce to 1 - possibly less and the skill set will be managing and integrating the corporate directory with cloud systems to retain the ease of collaboration that ownership of the employees e-identity (email, logins to sharepoint like collaborative services). The more those people specialise in tying systems together with the string of python, php, powershell, sql etc, the more employable they will be. Those who's cling rigidly to skills which we think of as "infrastructure" will be out of work in 5-10 years, even in the land of British Schools which are notoriously behind when it comes to a senior management appreciation of technology.

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    Ephelyon's Avatar
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    Predictions like this were being made some years ago too, though that doesn't mean these can't be right.

    Personally I find it depressing in the extreme...

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    AMLightfoot's Avatar
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    I can't see a point EVER where End User and Second Line support is not required - no system is foolproof and people will ALWAYS ask questions - mostly because no-one ever reads the manuals.

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    nicholab's Avatar
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    Funny it says most people will be generalist well in school we been that for years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nicholab View Post
    Funny it says most people will be generalist well in school we been that for years.
    We are ahead of the curve

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    Ephelyon's Avatar
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    The sysadmin role isn't support though, or shouldn't mainly involve support anyway (we live in hope).

    To be honest I've had these worries for as long as people have been banging on about the cloud. I appreciate its benefits but frankly putting an infrastructure together, designing a system, integrating services and etc is something that, as a sysadmin, *I* enjoy doing and wanted to do for my career. Then I get accused of standing in the way of progress and advised to take my skills to a datacentre... but we all know there won't be anywhere near as many of those jobs going.

    In fact, if you watch for about a minute and a half from 7:00 of this video, Kirk and McCoy do a very good job of summing up pretty much how I (and many others I know) feel about the cloud (context: someone wants to install a computer on the Enterprise that would do most of Kirk+crew's jobs):

    Star Trek: Playing At God (2/12) - YouTube

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    Quote Originally Posted by AMLightfoot View Post
    I can't see a point EVER where End User and Second Line support is not required - no system is foolproof and people will ALWAYS ask questions - mostly because no-one ever reads the manuals.
    Sure, but think of how that works with consumer devices. Apple do provide support but how many support people are there per apple customer. Those ratio's will become more the norm.

    Quote Originally Posted by nicholab View Post
    Funny it says most people will be generalist well in school we been that for years.
    We are and we aren't. Private sector work tends to be more focused, so someone will specialise in looking after a large companies email system and never touch the web server or network switches. In schools we spread ourselves thinner but we are still today dealing with technology that won't exist in future. Whatever the change, change itself is inevitable and teh pace of change is (IMO) accelerating.

    I think what is underestimated is the work involved in "Dev-Ops". A lot of my work over the years both in "consultancy", software development and operations had been stringing systems together - marshalling data from one incompatible system and format to another. Large, monolithic provision of functionality like Google Apps is enticing because provision is cheap. But if every business has the same engine, what differentiates business and what gives them the edge. That's where I think we will find our work and I think there will be a lot of it.

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    I'm not sure about this at all. The number of businesses who have gone 'cloud' and then moved back in house is growing - as it makes no sense to them.

    There are masses of companies that'd never look at 'cloud' either - it is simply too risky for their proprietary data and secrets to outsource it to a random company, and if they do find one who can meet their requirements, the costs end up higher than doing it in-house.

    End user devices are becoming more consumerised, in the consumer world, but everywhere else I simply can't see it. I've yet to hear of a business who has abandoned their in house set up and moved to a BYOD or tablet style working (where the end user device is controlled entirely by the user). Its a massive security risk.

    Many are making these predictions based on the 'falling sales' of traditional PCs and laptops. Yet, every journalist who has 'analysed' this has consistently failed to look at the blindingly obvious: that the demands of software have slowed compared to the speed of hardware. A Core 2 Duo will happily run everything a business throws at it still - even though its 5 years old. So, businesses are taking advantage of this (especially during the financial downturn), and extending replacement cycles accordingly. Schools are doing it to (we've moved from a 3-4 year cycle to a 5-6 year cycle).

    IT isn't just about providing systems or support, we also provide innovation. We have an overall view of our business and can see the blockages, the slow bits, the costly bits etc... We can often come up with ways to solve those issues. Getting rid of decent IT departments is a bad idea. (Ok, in businesses where people are more focused on their individual servers etc... the sys admins might not see that picture, but their boss might or the CIO).

  10. 7 Thanks to localzuk:

    Ephelyon (13th August 2013), JoeBloggs (14th August 2013), Modey (14th August 2013), mthomas08 (14th August 2013), pcstru (13th August 2013), speckytecky (15th August 2013), themightymrp (13th August 2013)

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    Absolutely. A lot of people like to believe they are the innovators and we're just here to do the technical bit to make it all work, and that can be true, but we all know it can work the other way round as well. It's very true that the IT Department will often have a broader overview of the entire organisation than some (though not all) senior management types, as they can be more focused on achieving certain goals, not the totality of the picture.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ephelyon View Post
    Then I get accused of standing in the way of progress and advised to take my skills to a datacentre... but we all know there won't be anywhere near as many of those jobs going.
    I've found myself having to try to suppress very negative reactions to cloud services - particularly the use of Google Apps. Some of that is justified (IMO), the sales pitch is "easy peasy save 80% of your support costs", the reality is we have to integrate and synchronise 3000 users across two directories and start adding hundreds of chrome books, no two of which seem to want to enrol in quite the same way. Far from saving any money we are spending more and having to support two domains means we have less time to support the stuff people are relatively familiar with. It seems to me to be change for changes sake - with no functionality we could not provide in other, more integrated ways (the downside is the upfront and ownership costs are much more visible). There - 100% negative! I almost can't help myself!

    Yet the more I think about it the more I think it is inevitable. It won't be the only way but it will account for 80% or more (plucking the 80/20 rule out of thin air). The other 'rule' I think will be in play is that we overestimate the pace of adoption, so this won't happen in the next 2-3 years but we underestimate the eventual take-up (at least with successful technologies like mobile phones).

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    To be honest, I lost interest in the article and indeed this entire thread as soon as I see the $ sign and realised the author Trevor Pott, is a full-time nerd (his words…) from Edmonton, Canada.

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    Here's a different kind of reflection, then, from Roger Clarke:

    http://www.rogerclarke.com/II/SAH-12.html

    I like his article very much. Supporting @localzuk's point, CIO.com also had this to say:

    The Power of IT Drives Businesses Forward - CIO.com

    In response to a similar question on Answers.com, I myself wrote this:

    Do you believe that IT drives business or that business drives IT

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    I recognise much (of myself) from that first blog by Rodger Clarke. Yet the embedding of MS into businesses is a good example of the type of change we face. It's not IT in the driving seat. The drive to MS systems was driven by user pressure and resisted by system admins. MS capitalised on that momentum by building products for the datacenter that made management of the endpoints easier, and then consolidated that position with enterprise grade data centre products (Exchange, SQL, IIS, HyperV, System Center etc).

    The CEO vs CIO is also a good insight into the overall picture but IMO the picture they paint is slightly wrong. Sure there is a bit more of a mix of IT drives business when the internet forms the fabric of a lot of product delivery. Is that IT driving business though or is that just the reality every business has to deal with, like (say) money is. The "IT must learn to align with the business" or that "smart CIOs know that in order to succeed, IT must align with the business" which the second article tries to dispute is making this mistake. IT is important but it is not (generally) the primary driver, it is an enabler. It is a difficult one to untangle in these days of Amazon (a bookseller) diverging into cloud infrastructure (basically a fallout of technology they have had to develop as a result of having to build scalable architecture for their own business).

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    glennda's Avatar
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    This has been around for years, its just its now call "The Cloud". The large companies centrally host everything and staff connect in via a variety of clients (thin client, web access from other device etc) normally to Citrix TS although this is now moving over to the VDI route.

    If a company provides it staff with systems to connect into from any device they will aways need support in getting that to work. It is just that kind of support is going to change.

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    Well certainly, as I wrote in the third link, there should be no element of "versus" in play at all. Where there is, trouble will soon follow regardless of which other CxO it is.

    In my current workplace, I have been the primary driver behind almost all new ICT initiatives for the past three years since I became NM. One of the first things I did was to propose replacing all the computers in one of our suites as an NQT had just started teaching there and they took 20 minutes to log on. The NQT didn't propose it; SLT didn't propose it; I did. If I hadn't proposed a move to electronic registration (and behaviour management) two years ago, we'd probably still be wheeling around paper registers. The purchase and adoption of Securus came from me. The requirement for an e-safety policy was identified by me as well as having heavy involvement in drawing it up. My involvement saved £9K from the parental engagement portal project. The idea for a new VLE, including product selection, came from me. Backup and DR, the establishment of a Strategic User Group, moving the pupils to the staff Exchange system, implementing site-wide wireless, a tablet trolley, managed printing... I wasn't just doing the technical side, the entire initiatives came from me too.

    This isn't an "oh look at me!" post; it's about saying that in some organisations, the IT people are the ones who drive development, for whatever reason. In others, leaders or other groups do that and the IT people carry it out. Both approaches can work but it shows how in some cases IT staff can be "enablers" and in others they can be "drivers" themselves. It depends how the organisation works and the positions that different people hold. I'd like to see more schools where the senior IT staff demonstrating this capacity are recognised as "leaders" too, along with senior finance, personnel and site staff who can be in a position to do similar things. The concept that teachers are the only ones who can become leaders in the education sector is an outdated one.

    It also depends on its ethos; leaders some organisations are more "snooty" about technical types than others. I've been lucky and grateful in mine for how much they've allowed me to develop my innovative side, although sometimes I feel frustrated that I'm not paid for the strategic role but basically doing it regardless. I say this in support of @pcstru's point about DevOps as in order to get these initiatives through - as IT staff - I've had to do a lot of the "interface" work that it requires. And indeed, while it's not brilliant for recognition or remuneration, I get the feeling that SLT knows that and therefore that my job is pretty secure. Therefore I'd agree that those of us who aren't doing this already may well need to start in the future, just to keep our usefulness and our jobs, though then there's the potential challenge of dealing with those on SLT who think they can do it better... and this idea of "managing upwards" starts to come into play.
    Last edited by Ephelyon; 13th August 2013 at 06:55 PM.

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