Moving Through Five Years

I wrote the Five Year Plan in mid 2013. In it, I noted there was a prediction that IT departments wouldn’t exist in 5 years, meaning in mid 2018. That’s a year and a half away. Is that a possibility?

I don’t think so. The more I work in the technology world, the more I see a need for humans to help manage the systems and data. The systems are complex, the small details of getting a platform up and running are varied and not standardized across any two companies, and I can’t envision a complete self-service world. As easy as the Azure or AWS consoles can be, the mindset of those platforms still expects a technical person to choose options and provision systems. After all, how many of your non-technical friends understand what geo-redundancy is?

It doesn’t seem that IT departments are really shrinking. As I look through various surveys, employment statistics and predictions, it seems that most all positions in IT are still growing and hiring. The outlook for the next few years is still good and the pay is still rising overall. What does that mean for all the DevOps, self service, and BYOD vendor support that hint at less jobs for many administrators?

I suspect that there are trends at some companies, where mundane, less skilled, easy-to-automate jobs are being replaced by automation. Some companies may even eliminate certain jobs, like the Database Administrator, but they don’t really eliminate people. Those individuals that can learn to handle other work, and become more efficient still keep their jobs, albeit with different titles. Some work may get handled by systems, but much of the work just gets distributed to other staff as a part of their jobs.

I’ve seen this in software development at companies that eliminated testers. Developers and operations staff start to become responsible for different aspects of testing. Each person spends a little time testing, in addition to their other work. Everyone ends up doing a little less of what they used to to, but a little more of something new. This also usually results in a larger development staff to cover the work the testers used to do. Often this means the department remains the same size, some testers become junior developers, and we’ve moved work around. The shared responsibility might actually improve overall quality since the impact of poor code gets noticed by more people.

I think this is what will happen with many operational IT staffs. Perhaps some companies will try to eliminate the IT department, but really just move the staff to different departments, changing the reporting structure, perhaps expand some of the responsibilities of people, but they’ll likely still have the same number of “IT staff”, even if they don’t call it that.

This doesn’t mean that each of us should count on gainful employment at our organization until we retire. Most of us should constantly get better at our jobs, and learn more about technology. I would recommend you learn new skills, but constantly and regularly practice and polish your old ones. Become better at your craft, even as you might choose to grow your career in new ways.

Steve Jones

The Voice of the DBA Podcast

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About way0utwest

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4 Responses to Moving Through Five Years

  1. Jesse Seymour says:

    Wholeheatedly agree… I still encounter a lot of resistance in my area to cloud computing in general, never mind putting mission critical databases into systems like Azure. We might see fewer admins and more analysts as time goes on as people will still need help with leveraging software and engineering processes, not to mention the increase in analytics investments.


  2. Parvinder Nijjar says:

    I think you are totally correct in your analysis.


  3. way0utwest says:

    Thanks, we’ll see.


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