The world of IT has changed, the evidence is all around us. For example, this Barron’s article (EMC, VMware, IBM, etc.: Here Come 333,000 Layoffs in Tech, Opines Global Equities) was making the rounds on twitter this week. Even though the article’s title is alarming (and since my current employer is mentioned, please visit my about me page for disclaimers), the content proves something else: the roles for traditional IT have changed. Jobs supporting on-premises infrastructure are going to disappear rapidly. The earthquake of change has happened, we’re just waiting on the tsunami to come and reshape the landscape.
This is no time to panic. Those of us who have experience in traditional IT roles have a place in the new landscape, even if we need to refocus and retool our skills a bit. These skills, knowledge, and experience are going to be needed. Desperately required. So grab your towel, and check out my suggestions to help you make it through the coming tsunami:
- Know your business. What is their core mission? How do they make money? How do they plan to make money? What do they need to meet those goals faster?
- Don’t forget the basics. Software still runs on servers through networks and onto storage, and you already know how to do that. It’s just all virtualized – and you know that. The big shift is that now other people manage that infrastructure, and maybe even the software. But trust me, you can work with that.
- Look beyond the tech. It’s important to know what the tech is, and what it does, but it’s more important to understand (and be able to articulate) what the tech will mean for your business.
- Don’t fall under an evangelist’s spell, no matter how popular he/she may be. Don’t lock on to tech just because it’s cool (see #1 and #2).
- Remember that cool new tech will change. If a technology is good for the business, it will be automated. See this post from Brian Gracely on how costs drive that change.
- Understand what is involved in moving workloads to different cloud platforms (PaaS, IaaS, SaaS).
- Understand what a workload is.
- Be able to explain the differences between PaaS, IaaS, and SaaS.
- Expand your understanding of compliance to cloud infrastructures. Regulatory requirements don’t disappear just because someone else is managing your hardware (and maybe software). Be the one who helps your org navigate this, and keep them compliant.
- Don’t be perceived as a blocker to progress. Support your business once the decision is made to transition to the cloud. This change is inevitable, apply your experience and understanding of the business to guide your organization through the upheaval.
- No really, the change is inevitable. Companies like Microsoft and Oracle don’t want to sell their software to you anymore, they want host their software for you. I’m surprised at the number of very large companies that we talk to who are moving to Office 365. This Current Status episode talked about how real Office 365 is – right now.
- Everything does not belong in GitHub. But find out what it is, then analyze if using GitHub as a code versioning repository fits your business model. If you’ve used CVS or Subversion, you already know the basic principals, the rest is just terminology. Do some research, and freshen up that skill set.
As an aside, there is growing concern that the cry to put everything in GitHub is more about recruiters being lazy and devs grandstanding than it is about the tech (or than the businesses we all support). See #4.
- Get used to giving up control. You can’t control the infrastructure setup, and with SaaS you have virtually no control over the software either. That means you can’t control the software (or hardware) version your business is running on, you can’t control when (or which) features are rolled out for your users. The cost savings are worth it, but you still have lots of responsibilities when you move to a cloud model.
- Get used to constant, rapid change. Especially if any of your organization’s software moves to a SaaS model. Those changes (see #13) that roll out are continuous…the SaaS provider will push them when they complete them, and you may not get a notification. The push may do something that breaks expectations your users have, or break business processes that are in place.
I don’t have an answer for this one, I’m learning that launch processes I’m used to as a PMM are completely broken in this model. In a true lean model, everyone will be working to reduce the friction the business feels from a continuous release model. Maybe I’ll have a good lessons learned article to post soon.
- Up your data protection game. One critical thing to remember is that you are still responsible for your organization’s data, even if it is on infrastructure (and possibly software) that someone else is running and managing. You’ll still have to worry about having a way to restore data rapidly, having an archive schema that continues the data retention plans you already have in place. You may also need to worry about security. Basically, all the things you were thinking about when the data was on premises. You just don’t have to manage the infrastructure any more.
This is my short list of how to survive the change that has already happened in IT. Do you have more advice? Leave a comment 🙂