34 Replies Latest reply on May 16, 2013 11:51 AM by bgenzoli

    The future of IT jobs: Where do you think we're headed?

    otherscottlowe

      Just looking around at the IT landscape today, there are so many more opportunities than there were just a decade ago.  Whereas workloads used to be confined to a server room, data center or data processing room, today, those same workloads whiz around data centers between hosts while powerful management and monitoring tools keep it all in check.  "Back in the day" the IT profession was also much more pigeonholed, with specific people responsible for specific areas of the infrastructure and others responsible for reporting and what used to be called MIS functions.  Over the past two decades, entire industries have popped up to support what have been two massive paradigm shifts in the IT landscape.  The first was the rise of the Internet and the second has been the adoption of virtualization.

       

      Both have had major positive impacts on the work environment and on the kinds of jobs that we see in IT.  The rise of the Internet gave business new opportunities and new sales channels that enabled worldwide growth.  The rise of virtualization has enabled companies to lower ongoing costs of running business systems, while, at the same time, providing new opportunities for workload availability and disaster recovery.  In addition, virtualization has enabled companies to go to market much more quickly with new products and services.

       

      As I mentioned, both have given rise to new classes of jobs that weren't even envisioned before these changes.  And today, we're seeing another paradigm shift start to occur as organizations eye the cloud as a potential target for running workloads.  In addition, there a job ads for cloud architects and engineers showing up in various places.  During the rise of virtualization, we saw ads for virtualization admins appear and, today, that's a typical role in an organization and carries with it elements of networking, storage and systems administration. Personally, I see a growing need for more business-facing IT staff and this need may be enabled by offloading some parts of the IT infrastructure to the cloud.

       

      As technology continues to forge ahead, what kinds of jobs do you think will be the hot jobs of the future?

       

       

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        • Re: The future of IT jobs: Where do you think we're headed?
          bsciencefiction.tv

          Unfortunately, I think the future of IT jobs is out-sourcing.  Due to a flailing economy, burden of government like Obama-care and the magic of project dollars versus real dollars, I think the attractiveness of contractors is enhancing.  I think IT professionals will be the new stock of temp agencies.

            • Re: The future of IT jobs: Where do you think we're headed?
              superfly99

              I agree with this. My own job has been developing and changing over the last 4 years or so as my workplace is changing to make sure money is better spent. Ultimately I believe everything will be outsourced with certain SLA's.

               

              I'm a fan of a permanent job (been here 18 years) but I can't see it going on like this so contracting will have to be the way to go. Or work for an outsourcing company provided it hasn't been outsourced offshore which is becoming increasly more popular here in Australia.

              • Re: The future of IT jobs: Where do you think we're headed?
                Leon Adato

                With about 24 years of perspective in the IT business, I have seen the pendulum swing a couple of times from outsource/contract to in-house/FTE and back.

                 

                There's a true-ism that in IT, if you want a raise or to further your career, you need to switch jobs every 2-3 years. One company (most companies) simply does not provide the range of opportunities that an ever-growing IT pro is going to want or need. At a certain point, all the projects you CAN do are done, and you settle down into operational mode. For some, that's nirvana. For others, it signals the time to leave.

                 

                That said, I think that there has always been and always will be a place for truly "migrant" workers - contractors and consultants (along with job-hoppers). And there will always be a place for the permanent folks who know the history of the business and the department.

                 

                Outsourcing is nothing new, and nothing I've seen in the last 20+ years has changed the basic pro/con balance of that option.

                 

                What HAS changed in the last 5-10 years is the willingness of companies to consider remote workers, and that has opened up the possibility of permanent employees who can't (and don't) make it into the office. Once your potential candidates stop being "in a 50 mile radius" and start being "whatever", that really talented guy in Tacoma - the one who isn't high level enough to rate a move package from the company (and who wouldn't move to your city no matter what you paid) is still in the running for the job. That's an exciting development.

                 

                It certainly opens the door for departments (especially IT) to structure in a way that minimizes those previously-mentioned downsides regarding outsourcing, but it also minimizes the need for a wholesale outsourcing initiative. Why outsource when you can hire an FTE (gaining loyalty and accountability) from a region of the country where you don't have to pay San Francisco salaries.

                 

                With ALL of that said, I think the "hot jobs of the future" are still basically the hot jobs of the past - people who can take separate technologies and merge them into things that are useful for the business. Virtualization (ie: VMWare and even Citrid) was cool, and IT was excited about it, but it didn't take off for a few years until teams figured out how to merge virtual servers AND storage AND security AND rapid provisioning tools. That was when you found companies virtualizing hundreds of servers at a time and creating more robust environments in the process.

                 

                Hot jobs? How about business application architects - the ones who can understand a legacy system and re-envision it so that it runs on and takes advantage of mobile platforms (why print and fill out a home appraisal form when you can take online submission ALONG WITH a streaming video of the walkthrough, and have logic on the backend that automatically approves homes that are "no brainers"?).

                 

                Just a thought.

                  • Re: The future of IT jobs: Where do you think we're headed?
                    byrona

                    I think I have to agree with this.  The job doesn't really change much, it's the technologies that you are working with that are changing.

                     

                    As the number and depth of the technologies increase I can see the need for more specialists focused on those items but a high level the jobs themselves are not vastly different from what the have been in the past.

                    • Re: The future of IT jobs: Where do you think we're headed?
                      Carlo Costanzo

                      adatole wrote:

                       

                      What HAS changed in the last 5-10 years is the willingness of companies to consider remote workers, and that has opened up the possibility of permanent employees who can't (and don't) make it into the office. Once your potential candidates stop being "in a 50 mile radius" and start being "whatever", that really talented guy in Tacoma - the one who isn't high level enough to rate a move package from the company (and who wouldn't move to your city no matter what you paid) is still in the running for the job. That's an exciting development.

                       

                      It certainly opens the door for departments (especially IT) to structure in a way that minimizes those previously-mentioned downsides regarding outsourcing, but it also minimizes the need for a wholesale outsourcing initiative. Why outsource when you can hire an FTE (gaining loyalty and accountability) from a region of the country where you don't have to pay San Francisco salaries.

                      Love the idea of remote working.  I think it is a VERY exciting development in the industry in general and has really been fueled by Virtualization.  Virtualization has enabled us to pick up and MOVE the datacenter across the country, why not pluck the best and brightest from across the country as well.  The changing geography of the workplace is an exciting thing indeed!

                       

                      CARLO.

                      • Re: The future of IT jobs: Where do you think we're headed?
                        IGFCSS.DSI

                        Hi adatole,

                         

                        With my 20 years experience I couldn't agree more. I've also seen those ideas, here in Europe (Portugal), about Outsourcing/In-House going forth and back. Due to our economic problems (mainly my country, with IMF and ECB financial support/restrictions) all I ear for the past 2 years is the need for downsizing, aggregate or outsource IT. Currently I work for the Portuguese Government and It's all about cutting budgets and reducing IT.

                         

                        Somehow it seems that the idea of "remote worker" hasn't yet been quite an acquired "taste" here and, with the exception of major players like Cisco or Microsoft, there are few companies that take advantage of such possibilities. Even when the political speech nowadays is more and more that people should adapt, change or even migrate!

                         

                        Lets see what the next years have to offer...

                    • Re: The future of IT jobs: Where do you think we're headed?
                      kmaxwell

                      Security, security, and. . .more security.  For every major leap in technology that has been made there has also been an equal leap in security concerns.  In some areas security has improved, but a quick look on any major news site will show that we are still way behind.  Heck, it doesn't even take a visit to a news site, most of us have probably felt the pain of lax security ourselves or someone we know has.  Hopefully for every cloud or "future tech" job that is created there will be a security job created as well.

                      • Re: The future of IT jobs: Where do you think we're headed?

                        I'd have to agree with the two previous replies. More and more security jobs will be created due to the enormous amount of continually growing cloud data. Also, it just makes financial sense to pay less for services where you can; however, the quality had better be top notch. Remember, you get what you pay for.

                        • Re: The future of IT jobs: Where do you think we're headed?
                          joelgarnick

                          Security is definitely a big one, but I'm also seeing the need more and more for the "jack of all trades" type because of virtualization that's extending past the server realm into networking and storage more and more...you can't really silo your activites anymore and get away with it in a productive way.

                          • Re: The future of IT jobs: Where do you think we're headed?
                            rutgerht

                            In addition to security and cloud engineering, I think there will be opportunities to add value via automation.  I see a bright future for automation and orchestration engineers who help organizations accomplish more with less.  Automation engineers are not tied to any particular technology, and help enable companies, for example:

                            • Be more self-sufficient via automated service desks
                            • Reduce error
                            • Reduce MTTR.


                            Furthermore, automation is the cornerstone to any cloud implementation.  You don't want to have to provision VMs manually....

                              • Re: The future of IT jobs: Where do you think we're headed?
                                Sohail Bhamani

                                I would agree with this whole heartedly.  I worked as a developer for Cisco and the project we worked on was bringing in automation via a recent acquisition's software into the mix of a part in house developed and part vendor based managed service provider monitoring platform.  The work we did as network engineers related directly to automating all the tasks that a level one tech would perform or gather from the customer in software.  Even though we have not seen too much in this space in the popular it zines, this is the glue for the overall future IT departments.  SDN comes to mind, vm automation as rutgerht mentioned, log/data gathering, basic troubleshooting (cycle interfaces, reboot, etc), updating support cases, provisioning devices, etc are things I have seen automation being used for.  Its basically infinite as long as there is some sort of web service or other method to invoke what ever should be automated.

                                 

                                Sohail Bhamani

                                Loop1 Systems

                                http://www.loop1systems.com

                              • Re: The future of IT jobs: Where do you think we're headed?
                                Aforsythe

                                I'll have to agree with Joel and kmaxwell, I see certified network security [insert certification here] becoming more and more important. I also see jobs in network forensics becoming more common.

                                • Re: The future of IT jobs: Where do you think we're headed?
                                  matt.matheus

                                  Security, security, and more security.  It's not enough anymore to put a firewall on the edge of your network and call it a day.  With data going to the cloud and other offsite locations, the need for an improved security posture is increasing. 

                                  • Re: The future of IT jobs: Where do you think we're headed?
                                    mikegrocket

                                    After having read all of the posts here, I wonder what is left to say. Virtualization, SDN, Cloud, etc, all of these new choices are driving so many changes. Like adatole, I have been around for a while and seen many swings in the industry. Someone said you can't stove pipe, and that is an important point. I've seen more and more the desire for someone who knows it all; networking, linux scripting, security, ad nauseum. I don't mean to infer it is unpleasant, nothing wrong with knowing a little about a lot, CISSP wants you to know an inch deep and a mile wide. But in the end, there needs to be a boundary. How much is expected for the new IT Engineer to know and truly understand? Lets not get too carried away and become IT generalists and water down industry.

                                    • Re: The future of IT jobs: Where do you think we're headed?
                                      jbiggley

                                      I think the one overlooked development in is in IT services, specifically in the management of service delivery.  The key to controlling costs, or at least aligning costs with revenue, is to ensure that you get what you pay for from your software, hardware and service providers.  I see architects who can observe a system at a holistic level (hardware, software and human resources) and determine how to best use those resources to meet operational and financial targets. 

                                       

                                      One of the greatest challenges is keeping tabs on the evolution of software, hardware, etc.  Twenty years ago the rate of change seemed to much slower (or my mind was much faster!) and a small team of generalists were all you needed.  Today, skills are returning to the silo as the rate of change demands expertise that is gleaned from more than a review of the admin guide.  Experience will be key as will the ability to harness all of these 'experts' into meeting specific objectives.

                                       

                                      Dynamic project managers will be crucial for the success of any company worth their salt.  (Note that I did not say certified project managers as I think that PMs are falling into the same category that MCSEs were in the mid-90s.  Just because you can write a test and prove that you participated in 2000 hours worth of project work does not make you an amazing project manager.  I'm also convinced that project managers, like public speakers and leaders, are born, not made!)

                                       

                                      Finally - cloud everything.  Goes without saying.  Of course, service levels, expectations of services, transitioning to cloud -- all of it is intertwined.  Systems thinkers are critical as we make this jump to the cloud -- and beyond.

                                       

                                      Josh

                                      • Re: The future of IT jobs: Where do you think we're headed?
                                        Aaron Denning

                                        I have to agree with acey network security is going to have to become alot stronger with cloud coming out and everything being stored there.

                                        • Re: The future of IT jobs: Where do you think we're headed?
                                          RandyBrown

                                          I am in agreement with those that think security is where the hot jobs are going to be in the future.  As far as outsourcing goes ... I've seen the trend swing just like adatole mentions above.  In my humble opinion, outsourcing has some serious limitations.  If I were the owner of a company (large or small) I would want to make sure that the people employed for me a) have my best interest in mind at all times, b) have an in-depth knowledge/background of why we do what we do, and c) are able to focus on the most important aspects of my business especially during critical moments (go lives, major system issues, etc.)  Outsourcing doesn't always provide the peace of mind that having a good, solid IT professional on staff does.

                                          • Re: The future of IT jobs: Where do you think we're headed?
                                            chipsch

                                            As many people have already stated security is obviously going to continue to be a very in demand position to fill as time goes on. With the cloud growing rampant many IT departments are going to need have a strong business and technical understanding of how their data should be contained. I feel like this will be even more so for the companies specializing in IaaS, SaaS, DaaS, etc in the cloud. That is one of the first questions I ever hear from a potential new client since I do work in that business, how is my data secured? What are your processes and controls in place to maintain data integrity and confidentiality when we move to the cloud, etc.

                                             

                                            I also think there is going to be a bigger demand for developers that specialize in network development. Server virtualization led the way and now we are really seeing huge leaps by network vendors to get into this mix. I think Nicira is a perfect example of this. Just my 2 cents.

                                            • Re: The future of IT jobs: Where do you think we're headed?
                                              skubasteeve

                                              I am hoping the IT world stays intact... I am just about to make my first move within IT... and it is to a totally new world of IT. I know very little about it (SCCM) and am very nervous and excited. I have done 7 years of Lvl 1 helpdesk and am ready for a change.

                                              • Re: The future of IT jobs: Where do you think we're headed?
                                                zlm

                                                Because of increased automation, less admins will be needed. I think that admins need to be more multi-talented also. So for instance, just being the network guy wont be enough :-{

                                                • Re: The future of IT jobs: Where do you think we're headed?
                                                  skubasteeve

                                                  Lets just all hope that people will always break the physical pieces that need to be replaced... Cant do that over the phone.

                                                  • Re: The future of IT jobs: Where do you think we're headed?
                                                    rfletcher

                                                    I gotta agree with those who have stated about security and joel's comment about jack of all trades. I find that most of the people in my company who are successful has had a hand in different backgrounds from servers, database administration, and networking. People who's skills branch multiple fields will always be able to find a place.

                                                      • Re: The future of IT jobs: Where do you think we're headed?
                                                        Aforsythe

                                                        You're right about that, I've never wanted for a job and I'm frequently headhunted by peer companies, but the "Jack of All Trade's" role isn't always as valued as a niche role. I can administer several different phone systems for instance, but I'm no expert with Avaya and if you want someone who is, you can probably get them much cheaper than you can hire me.

                                                         

                                                        I can also write scripts in just about any language, handle face-to-face customer relations, figure out your network problems, help you get your intranet site off the ground, help you with your SQL Server performance issues, handle data collection, trending, and migration projects, manage your IT or other staff, and fix your procedural efficiency issues, getting you to the point where you don't need me but won't let me go.

                                                         

                                                        Sometimes that's not what you're looking for, and you just want someone who can configure a new extension on an Avaya phone switch. So my best advice is to keep yourself marketable. If you're in the same job for years and you haven't grown your knowledge base after the first 6 months, you have zero job security and you are not marketable.

                                                         

                                                        If you are growing and want to keep yourself marketable, you have to keep up with the trends and know what's coming around the corner. For the past few years, I've been focusing my education on two areas: Network Forensics and Database Administration.

                                                         

                                                        Hacking and malicious software have always been a problem, but the problem is getting bigger, not smaller, and the stakes are getting higher. Network security (CCNA Security or CCSP or equivilants) are going to be important.

                                                         

                                                        It's also amazing how many fortune 500 companies just in the last 5 years have opened their eyes to all of the data they have been mindlessly collecting, archiving and purging for the last few decades. Every day these companies add terrabytes worth of newly tracked data to their stockpiles. And two things are happening to that data, it's being trended, and it's being compromised.

                                                         

                                                        That's a trend you can trend.

                                                      • Re: The future of IT jobs: Where do you think we're headed?
                                                        rharland2012

                                                        Dittoing and echoing.....

                                                         

                                                        Security - the most vital piece of them all as IT and data relate to the rest of the world. The most vital IT security jobs of 2016 through 2020 don't even exist in their current form right now, but black/gray hat types are at unprecedented levels of aggression - and compromises of data security will be the new salvo in the next generations of clandestine private, public and international warfare. Or activism. Depends on where you're standing, I guess.

                                                        Whether or not outsourcing takes off again and forces everyone to change, there will increasingly be demand for people who partially fit some of the earlier descriptors in this thread - jack-of-all-trades types. With a difference, of course. These are going to be big-picture types who provide not the manpower but the vested interest in making businesses flourish in increasingly outsourced times. Without folks at the helm of IT who actually have a horse in the race of their company's fate, outsourcing provides subpar to just-good-enough services that are *worth every penny*. Outsourcing done wrong is a cost-saving initiative from start to end - and this is wrong because IT is not at its core a cost-saving opportunity (although most managers will differ with me on that). It's a time-saving opportunity that instead sometimes helps us realize cost savings.

                                                        Infrastructure - there will always be a need for infrastructure people. Regardless of SDN adoption, at some level for the foreseeable future we're going to need the ones who will work with transport technologies. 10G/100G/400G/etc. is not the end of something....with nanotech, graphene, and a bunch of other things we haven't even heard of yet there will continue to be breakthrough-level developments in how fast we move data. We'll keep trying to build the ansible until we get as close as we can...

                                                        Storage-savvy professionals who stay abreast of technology and can extrapolate out 18-36 months (scope in on the ROI and needs of your organization or customers' shops) will be around for a long time, too. Storage technology morphs directly alongside the world's exponentially increasing data-storage wants and needs, and I think we can all agree that the data footprint of the world today will look like a joke in two years, not to mention ten.

                                                        • Re: The future of IT jobs: Where do you think we're headed?
                                                          dave_mcmillan

                                                          I would say that the future in my humble opinion is monitoring. As most of you I have been in the industry for a while my number is 15 years as a full time employee/contractor/consultant preceeded by a few summers while I was in high school. I have seen a lot of movement with the way that technology has evolved. The one thing that seems to always be the question regardless of hardware or software is that  management wants to know when it will be fixed as well as a root cause of the probelm as soon as possible.

                                                           

                                                          Being familiar with many forms of technology and having working knowledge of monitoring systems will raise your value to any orginization.

                                                          Like most have said the main focus for most orginizations lie currently with "Network, Secuirty, Hardware, SAN/Storage, VMWare, Cloud etc..." this will all continue to evolve and be a high priority with specialized needs for technicians that are single threaded in those specific technologies.

                                                           

                                                          I like having a high level of knowledge on all the technologies while having a more in depth level on select few this is what makes my job enjoyable. With monitoring being a common thread across all of the technologies and knowing how it all works will ensure a long career in this industry at least that is what I am betting on.

                                                          • Re: The future of IT jobs: Where do you think we're headed?
                                                            xbod

                                                            Cobbled together systems of routers, switches, servers and crisscrossed patch cables have become 2U appliances with a GUI interface that have major problems maybe 1 time during its usable lifetime.  If you understand the basic tech of something you can likely get an easy to use appliance and set it up. 

                                                             

                                                            The future of IT workers could end up being one where we are just managing a bunch of pre-programmed appliances.  Monkeys clicking a mouse....

                                                             

                                                            Honestly, I think there will always be a place for those with specialized skills (Exchange, SQL, Servers, AD, routing and switching...), the big question is whether or not these skills are brought in house or out-sourced/contracted or combined into fewer positions.  I believe that help desks and techs (those that serve the end user) will fade to have a smaller role.

                                                            • Re: The future of IT jobs: Where do you think we're headed?
                                                              bgenzoli

                                                              The future of IT jobs is going to be data and security related. Some things, such as data integrity (physical control), and security (both O/S based such as Active Directory, and broader, more network alignment) and cannot be outsourced in most industries due to policies or compliance issues.

                                                               

                                                              You can already see this emerging in the Government Sectors. Private industry is also following suite.