I may be dating myself, but anyone else remember when MTV® played music videos? The first one they ever played was The Buggle's "Video Killed the Radio Star." The synth-pop feel of the song seemed so out of place with the words, which outlined the demise of the age of the radio personality. Thinking back, this was the first time I can remember thinking about one new technology completely supplanting another. The corollary to this concept is that radio stars are now antiquated and unneeded.
Fast forward a few decades and I'm entrenched in IT. I'm happily doing my job and I hear about a new technology: virtualization. At first, I discounted it as a fad (as I'm sure many of us old-school technologists did). Then it matured, stabilized, and gained a foothold.
One technology again supplanted another and virtualization killed the physical server star. Did this really kill off physical servers entirely? Of course not. No more so than video killed radio. It just added a level of abstraction. Application owners no longer needed to worry about the physical hardware, just the operating system and their applications. Two things happened:
1. Application owners had less to worry about
2. A need for people with virtualization experience developed
From that point on, every new person who entered IT understood virtualization as a part of the IT stack. It was a technology that became accepted and direct knowledge of physical servers was relegated to secondary or specialized knowledge. Having knowledge about firmware and drivers was suddenly so "retro."
Virtualization matured and continued to flourish, and with it, new vendors and capabilities entered the market, but dark clouds were on the horizon. Or perhaps they weren't dark-just "clouds" on the horizon. As in private clouds, hybrid clouds, public clouds, fill-in-the-blank clouds. The first vendor I remember really pushing the cloud was Amazon® with their Amazon Web ServicesTM (AWS®).
Thinking back, this seemed like history repeating itself. After all, according to many, Amazon nearly destroyed all brick and mortar bookstores. It looked like they were trying to do the same for on-premises virtualization. After all, why worry about the hardware and storage yourself when you can pay someone else to worry about it, right?
This seems reminiscent of the what happened with virtualization. You didn't worry about the physical server anymore-it became someone else's problem. You just cared about your virtual machine.
So, did cloud kill the virtualization star, which previously killed the server star? Of course not. For the foreseeable future, cloud will not supplant the virtualization specialist, no more so than virtualization supplanted the server specialist. It's now just a different specialization within the IT landscape.
What does this mean for us in IT? Most importantly, keep abreast of emerging technologies. Look to where you can extend your knowledge and become more valuable, but don't "forget" your roots.
You never know-one day you may be asked to update server firmware.