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

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?

Reply to this post to get 50 thwack points and an entry in the April Ambassador Engagement contest. An iPod Nano sits in the balance!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 can't really silo your activites anymore and get away with it in a productive way.

  • 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....

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • FormerMember
    0 FormerMember over 9 years ago

    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.