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Looking Ahead: SysAdmins in 2025

Community Manager

This year has changed the way we work—from our roles and responsibilities to the way we interact and socialize with others. Responsibilities in IT were already shifting with instances of data center/IT role convergence on the rise. The SolarWinds® 2020 IT Trends Report: The Universal Language of IT revealed security and application management are more frequently becoming part of day-to-day tasks. However, the pandemic has served to accelerate this shift. In 2020, we’ve been forced to adapt faster than ever before, and the growing remote workforce has complicated—and extended—the roles of IT pros even further.

With SysAdmin Day just around the corner on Friday, July 31, what do you think the SysAdmins will look like in 2025? We want to hear about your experiences over the course of your time as a SysAdmin and in recent months, and your perception of how SysAdmins have been impacted. What do you think the SysAdmin role will look like in the future—will SysAdmins become “Tech Generalists?” Will responsibilities change? If so, how? What do you think the new SysAdmin “normal” will look like, and how should we think about preparing for these changes?  

Share your thoughts by July 29 and we’ll put 250 THWACK® points in your account.

25 Comments

I think we will (hopefully) see a trend in standardization for API's to allow integration of different Vendor products into one "master console"

Level 11

It will all be automated unfortunately.

Level 9

I think the Sysadmin will eventually become simply the gatekeeper for Internet-connected enterprise services like file management, collaboration tools, etc. as those things all slowly move out of the corporate datacenter and into the cloud. However, not so simply, the ability to monitor and maintain visibility of those services and handle requested integrations between them will be necessary.

Familiarity with APIs, custom integrations, and cybersecurity will all become more and more critical skillsets to have.

Level 9

With the push for automation on the network side as well as cloud intergration, I think the role of an SRE/NRE engineer will certainly start to blur. How we manage careers to support the infrastructure and architecture of those service layers will be a challenge for mgmt. though.

Level 11

I agree with @jscobbie and the blending of the positions. Adoption of the cloud (at least for my business) was a little slow due to the cost of it but little by little SaaS is making it's way into our world. If it wasn't for some home grown systems we wouldn't have much infrastructure on premise. We have already moved all networking to the cloud with Meraki which has let us manage 100+ sites with 2 network admins, and even that most of their time is on telecom systems not networking. If we could remove more systems and depend on the vendors to provide them for us I could see a few people with multiple hats having to do very little. There is still a lot of work to do to get there but if the last 5 years have been the proof of anything, you never know what could be around the corner.

Many sysadmins will look and work exactly the same. Technology moves forward at a rapid pace, but all of our environments also have legacy technology that won't go anywhere for a long time. Many sysadmins get comfortable and do a fine job managing these types of systems and services. 

Those who tend to be lifelong learners, though--the ones who have to try new things and always find better ways to manage their systems--those are the ones that will be fun to watch. (Or hopefully to be!) We will be utilizing APIs to take "work smarter, not harder" to the next level. We have already begun automating as many repeated tasks as possible, and using APIs will be one of the main ways to do that. We'll be able to orchestrate more processes, as APIs allow us to accomplish tasks that were once only possible with very expensive products. Hopefully, these efforts will help us to create stronger relationships with the developers, security teams, and business systems analysts that are either within IT or distributed. We will be able to share useful information with security and also draw from the data that their teams have already pulled. (eg: We just had a conversation about building an enterprise log management platform for IT, instead of the old approach, which was to always let the security team be solely responsible for collecting, indexing, and consuming logs.) We will be able to interact with developers and application owners, learning from their APIs and also sharing new possibilities with them.

DevOps will continue to be a buzzword, but the practices around it will become more naturalized for sysadmin-teams that have what I like to think of as "operational maturity." Really cool things are going to be happening! 😀

I think the best SysAdmins will remain generalists. Ultra focused specialists have their place, but they are simply not as useful as someone who has had experience in multiple different fields over the course of their careers. 

Also, unless something fundamentally changes, we'll be spending more time being "remotely responsible". What I mean by this term is that the pandemic has proven that WFH is a legitimate option for many different roles. In many cases, people can be more efficient, and have a better work/life balance when they are WFH, and don't have to deal with commuting or being "doorstopped" by people when on the way out of the office, begging you to stay and help fix X because "It'll only take a minute" (I'm sure many of us have been there...). 

We'll have the tools to respond quicker, but we'll also have increasingly decentralised infrastructure to deal with, and multiple vendors to shuffle. 

It is my hope that by then that Sysadmin has been able to free themselves from the earthly binds that is the physical constraints and everything is virtual whether it be public or private cloud. And I dare wish that "versioning" is a thing of the past. Systems Administration has evolved into pure scripting around capacity management, API's, automation, and so on. Mouses will be go the way of the dodo when it comes to systems administration. Hark the return of the CLI! A sysadmin will have to know how to code in multiple languages to be successful.

Level 9

SysAdmin responsibilities will change, at least it has for the department I'm in.  Positions have been getting shuffled around and new accesses have been given to the people onsite since most of our SysAdmins are now completely remote and can't do some of the things they'd normally do themselves before.

Level 14

SysAdmins will still be SysAdmins.  We have always been evolving to meet the changing IT environment and needs of the user.  System monitoring will become ever more important as systems move to the cloud (well you do have to blame someone when things go wrong and blaming Microsoft / Google / Amazon, and being able to prove it, will allow compensation claims).  There will always be legacy systems that cannot be cloud based and some systems will have to be on prem for data or security reasons.  Automation will increase but that just takes away the daily grind and will allow us to focus on improving systems and plan upgrades and updates.  I really can't see automation or AI being able to deal with the increasingly bizarre ways Microsoft come up with to break systems.  Users seem to be getting more and more devious in the ways they break stuff too.  They seem to equate "having a computer" with "being a computer expert".  Hopefully the future will stop users from telling me how to fix things (television and movies have a lot to answer for). 

I see my role as still being the person they turn to when they need help.  After all, cars have been around for a long time and we still need mechanics (and they are now too complex for most people to fix). 

Level 9

I'd think that they'll still be a key part of IT.  Now that many companies think they can be efficient via remote work, the responsibilities of SysAdmins will be expanded- including more monitoring. 

Level 7

Well, the sysadmin role will further collaborate with DevOps or DevSecOps team for Automation and Machine to Machine Analysis and event trigger automation.

Level 9

In the last 10 years, I have seen many small to mid-sized companies downsize IT staff. Dedicated Network and System Administrators have been replaced with IT Coordinators, IT Managers, and/or IT Directors .

IT Coordinators are responsible for oversight and day-to-day tasks; while the project work of Network and Systems Administrators has been outsourced to third party IT Service companies. As managers and C-Level executives seek to reduce costs, this trend will likely continue towards 2025.

In the future, IT workers will be employed by large IT Service companies and large corporations with enterprise or hyperscale data centers (Azure, AWS, etc.). Let's all hope the WFH trend continues. If not, it may indeed be a dystopian future for SysAdmins.

Regards,

Isaiah Carriere
SolarWinds Consultant
Adeptec - SolarWinds Authorized Partner

Level 9

In the last 10 years, I have seen many small to mid-sized companies downsize IT staff. Dedicated Network and System Administrators have been replaced with IT Coordinators, IT Managers, and/or IT Directors.

IT Coordinators are responsible for oversight and day-to-day tasks. Meanwhile the project work of the Network and Systems Administrator has been outsourced to third party IT Service companies. As managers and C-Level executives seek to reduce costs, this trend will likely continue towards 2025.

In the future, IT workers will be employed by large IT Service companies and large corporations with enterprise or hyperscale data centers (Azure, AWS, etc.).

Let's all hope the WFH trend continues. If not, it may indeed be a dystopian future for SysAdmins.

Regards,

Isaiah Carriere
SolarWinds Consultant
Adeptec - SolarWinds Authorized Partner

Level 12

I don't think it's going to be drastically different in the coming years, but i hope to see everything push towards a software/API driven technology where the user/sysadmin can really leverage custom software development for his "... as a Service" tech.

Level 8

I'm on the networking side my organizations admin team.  I don't see SysAdmins changing very much.  Within our organization, I see the need for cloud understanding of networking and SysAdmin.  A lot of services will be hosted in the cloud.  Cheaper and more up time.  As far as the duties one would have in 2025, I see a lot of home offices.  Our company didn't have a very good work from home policy until this pandemic.  Now that everyone is working from home, we are looking at hiring individuals who would work remote and that could greatly expand our business.

Level 14

The SYSADMIN position continues to evolve.... From single vendor specialists to multi-vendor generalist. Our environments are both those we can touch and those we " touch from afar (cloud)". Networks and applications blend together in mesh of data driven requirements.

For me... there are two realities.... in 5 years it will evolve more and I will have "hung 'em up" and be touring the country in my camper.

 

Honestly, I do not see a lot changing.   Although there are great tools out there, there are few companies which can really afford and roll out these in a timely manor.   An example is we just are finishing up our retirement of 2008 servers.   We are targeting 2012 next.   We hope to be completed with those by 2023.   We took over 18 months to upgrade the citrix environment.   When you have larger companies, with more than 10K users, things move slower.  We are adopting Automation, but our projects seem to be more focused on centralization and moving more toward streamlined processes.   This is a good next step.   Some roles have changed no doubt, but much stays the same.  

Covid response made us move faster for the work force.   The generalist is still there.   Still doing his or her job.  Still very important.  in 4.5 years i only see this being more of the case.   We can automate some work flows, but really this will cause more generalists.   The less specific administration we need do to automation will make other need to be more generalists in order to service the ever growing at home work population.  First call resolution, rapid repairs, more knowledge now.   The more things change, the more they stay the same.

 

Level 7

I would agree with silverbacksays:- to wit: more remote support as more companies see the value of WFH- increased productivity of quality people, decreased travel time and expense allowing users more personal time, etc.- nothing new there.  Been at this game a long time (longer than I care to even think about) and "the more things change, the more they stay in total chaos"--- I am pretty sure that was a quote?

MVP
MVP

5 years is a long time in IT and I foresee a continuation of the change to consolidation of management tooling. Whether this is wrapped up in portals such as O365 or Meraki etc. or as part of a toolset solution where multi faceted technologies are managed via specific created tooling, this may turn sysadmins into point and click workflow admins. 

I see many posts on sysadmins being forced to move to CLI and scripting, which I also completely agree with, where interfacing with the administration portals or creating the necessary management packages in integrated tooling platforms are the skills required to make such solutions work.

For many organisation I do feel it will be a significant shift in having higher skilled technical staff and much less staff, as solutions will continue to make the job easier, and with less manual intervention and for the more advanced function the higher skills to stitch it all together in the organisations image.

Level 7

SysAdmin's are going to be masters of scripting in multiple formats.

Level 14

I would love to see the breakdown of silos and self interests, cross-skilling accepted as the norm, 100% working from home with properly equipped home offices and occasional physical get-togethers, 

In reality I expect to see more SaaS, more load on sysadms because of the ever increasing diversity of the "best way" and a continued fight to migrate from the previous "best ways".

And monitoring will continue to expand & finally be recognised as a discipline in its own right.

Level 9

However in future due to automation and cloud technology the workload for sysadmin will reduce and so the sysadmin have to enhance the skill to cope up with new technology

Level 7

100% remote.

Level 9

Administration is subject to constant changes. The applications. the users, the business, How, What and Where is ever changing. Yet the process of understanding how a system works remains the same. Keeping a system operating within an acceptable range of operational parameters will likely continue to be the primary objective. Staying up with the evolution of changes while trying to keep every ball in the air that you are responsible for. If you have successfully adapted to the world of operations in 2020, it should be a pie of cake for you in 2025.