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Clouds ahead: What an IT career will look like five years out

Paul Heltzel | Sept. 9, 2015
IT infrastructure is increasingly giving way to the cloud. Here's how to remain relevant in the years ahead

Clouds ahead: What an IT career will look like five years out

Don't get us wrong: In today's quickly evolving tech world, it's easy to get lost chasing the turbulent present moment. The pace of change can be dizzying, and keeping up on everything that's emerging in IT today can drive even the most devoted tech worker to distraction.

But IT pros who don't take the time to lift their heads and assess the likely IT landscape five years out may be asking for career trouble. Because one fact is clear: Organizations of all stripes are increasingly moving IT infrastructure to the cloud. In fact, most IT pros who've pulled all-nighters, swapping in hard drives or upgrading systems while co-workers slept, probably won't recognize their offices' IT architecture -- or the lack thereof -- in five years.

This shift will have a broad impact on IT's role in the future -- how departments are structured (or broken up), who sets the technical vision (or follows it), and which skills rise to prominence (or fall away almost entirely).

Here we'll look at how the cloud is changing the way IT departments work and how, five years from now, staff and managers will need to adapt to a cloud-driven environment.

Cutting the wires

When you step off the elevator at the office or data center five years from now, what will you see? Fewer servers and fewer co-workers, most likely. Maintaining on-premises data centers is a costly endeavor, much more so than connecting to the cloud. If the current trend toward moving infrastructure to the cloud is any indication, organizations that haven't already done so will carefully consider those expenses -- and many will ultimately decide to trim them over the next five years.

Chris McKewon, founder and chief architect, Xceptional Networks
"IT managers will have to support applications, not equipment. They'll have to be flexible, adaptable, and inclusive." -- Chris McKewon, founder and chief architect, Xceptional Networks

The skills necessary to thrive in IT will evolve as well.

"Ten years ago, IT staff were physically plugging special storage cables into special switches," says Mathew Lodge, vice president in VMware's cloud services group. "Today they're allocating virtual storage volumes across the network, and some applications simply do their own storage allocation via APIs. The future is about enabling the deployment and consumption of cloud services, not installing, configuring, and managing stacks."

"Cloud services are disrupters," concurs Jim Rogers, CMO at unified communications and cloud services company iCore Networks. "They disrupt the idea that IT departments need to spend most of their time on-site performing mundane tasks. IT departments now have more viable options to outsource and automate these tasks than ever before."


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