My time in the IT world is closer to three decades than two. And anyone else who has been around half as long can testify to the amount of change that has occurred. It’s more than impressive; it’s a shock. Across the years I have more than once likened keeping up with technology to treading water with a backpack full of bricks. Keeping up is …hard.
There was a time, a long time ago, when I felt that being excellent at a lot of things was doable for a large swatch of people. But as the years went by I felt myself increasingly compressed into certain areas of expertise. Despite my enthusiasm and constant consumption of information I felt that each new day was turning me into more and more of an IT generalist. It’s a claustrophobic feeling.
But through it all, no matter what the changes, I was doing certain things:
- I was actually building computers. Connecting processors to motherboards, and cabling everything up.
- I was installing operating systems, configuring and patching them.
- I was installing software, tweaking and troubleshooting it.
- I was configuring real routers, switches, firewalls and more.
- I was connecting cables to real equipment and my troubleshooting always included Layer 1.
All of those things still exist today, of course, and they will exist tomorrow. But less so. And for fewer and fewer of us.
As virtualization continues its overhaul of the world and its assimilation into all things cloud I am left wondering about the emerging generation of people in IT. I frequently extoll the virtues of IaaS, SaaS, and PaaS because, quite frankly, they are amazing things. As a lover of technology, I embrace them. But I’m equally intrigued by the potential damage they may do.
You may have seen the meme, “There is no cloud, it’s just somebody else’s computer.” At its core, it is true. What’s going to happen when whole crops of people come into IT and have never built a computer, installed an OS, configured their own server or cabled an actual network? Will that actually happen? Will it matter? Are we ever going back to a time when we will need to? I know the pendulum swings back but will it swing back to that?
Somebody, somewhere is still doing all of these things but I fear that it will be an increasingly fewer number of us who do so. The ‘brick & mortar’ equivalent of the IT world (i.e. your physical servers in your own building) is heading toward the endangered species list. Maybe not this year or the next. But sooner rather than later.
And there you have it; I have just set the stage for being able to tell my grandkids my IT version of a ‘walked to school …in the snow …up hill …both ways!’ story.
What do you see for the future of IT? Am I wrong?