How Much Change Have You Seen?

How much change have you seen in the way in which IT departments determine the number of people needed to best serve the infrastructure, especially since the introduction of virtualization and cloud computing? I have observed that those companies that decided to make the leap all at once immediately dropped their number of hands-and-feet people and moved those positions over to create a virtualization team to manage the new infrastructure. Lateral slides of the head count for the adoption of the new technologies is par for the course in the wonderful world of IT.

Recently I had a chance to partake in a conversation with some other engineers who support their companies’ cloud infrastructures. We discussed the staffing levels they are running, and I was a little surprised to hear how the teams are staffed. I knew this was coming; I just was not quite expecting to see it established this quickly.

You see, for the number of people needed to support an infrastructure, there were at least three times as many people involved in some type of development work. Engaged in everything from cloud automation to Puppet and Chef, the majority of the staff was involved in development. Will this be considered the new standard moving forward? With regard to the companies that are maintaining their own cloud infrastructure, yes. I think this is the future of one part of these companies’ IT teams. For the larger companies, I believe this will be the norm.

The real question is how far south into the smaller companies will this model go? This brings me back to my original sentence: How much change have you seen in your IT departments? How much effort have you seen being put toward automation in your environment? Have you noticed any other teams expanding from lateral staffing moves, or do you see this developer moment as something that only the larger companies and infrastructures will support?

I fully believe that the future of the cloud and the teams that support it is going to lie in the hands of the developers. What I am not quite sure of is whether this is going to be another part of the technology divide that is leaving a staffing shortage worldwide.

These are the questions that I would like to present to you so that we can all see what the rest of us are seeing. How many of you have started to learn to program and develop the automation that your company is using? If not, then I ask you, why not? In my humble opinion, if you are wondering what the next area of technology is going to be—the next big wave in the job market—then I would like to offer that it is time to learn how to program and start creating automation that can make your job easier. It does not matter if you support Microsoft, VMware, or OpenStack: there are automation options available. If you want to stay relevant in IT, then you have to spend some time learning how to code. When automation is deployed, jobs are lost. How much change have you seen in the way in which IT departments determine the number of people needed to best serve the infrastructure, especially since the introduction of virtualization and cloud computing?

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Steve Beaver
Stephen Beaver is the co-author of VMware ESX Essentials in the Virtual Data Center and Scripting VMware Power Tools: Automating Virtual Infrastructure Administration as well as being contributing author of Mastering VMware vSphere 4 and How to Cheat at Configuring VMware ESX Server. Stephen is an IT Veteran with over 15 years experience in the industry. Stephen is a moderator on the VMware Communities Forum and was elected vExpert for 2009 and 2010. Stephen can also be seen regularly presenting on different topics at national and international virtualization conferences.
Steve Beaver

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1 Comment on "How Much Change Have You Seen?"

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There are not enough competent IT Administrators to meet the current demand for such people.

There is an even greater shortage of people with development skills.

If the effect of cloud is that we substitute the requirement for even rarer developers for people with rare IT admin skills, why is this a good thing?