Companies have almost ceased to need system administrators, preferring to abandon their infrastructure in favor of the clouds. Some even run Windows on remote servers. As a result, in the next five years the number of system administrators will be reduced by 7.8% annually. In order for them to stay in the IT field, they will have to develop new skills, such as learning to code.
An endangered species
System administrators as one of the types of IT professionals in the very near future will begin to gradually disappear. Not the most optimistic forecasts for this once very popular profession were made by the analytical company IDC in its Worldwide xOps Census and Forecast 2022-2027 study, dated May 2023.
According to this document, IDC experts classify system administrators as IT generalists. “IT professionals in the most purely operational roles are faced with the need to move into more technical or highly specialized positions, which can very often require a certain level of skills in software development,” IDC said in a study.
Also, many tasks that a modern system administrator performs in a company are gradually becoming unnecessary. Various companies are increasingly abandoning their own IT infrastructure in favor of cloud services – it comes to the point that some companies are purchasing thin clients instead of full-fledged computers and running Windows loaded in the cloud. Such a service has recently been provided by Microsoft.
New opportunities for system administrators
From 2022 to 2027, IDC predicts that the number of basic IT tasks of a wide range performed by a system administrator will be will decrease by an average of 8.2% per year. This will inevitably lead to a reduction in the number of system administrators themselves – they will decrease by an average of 7.8% every year.
A few years ago, system administrators were worth their weight in gold. Now the need for them is almost gone.
As a result, sysadmins who want to stay in IT and not go into a completely new industry for it will still have to learn something new. For example, cloud services that take away their work are constantly in need of DevOps specialists, the IDC document states.
The authors of the study are also confident that in the next five years the number of jobs for specialists in the so-called MLOps field will increase dramatically. IDC experts include IT specialists in this category who are engaged in “simplification and automation of the entire machine learning life cycle” (streamline and automate the entire machine learning life cycle). According to their calculations, the number of jobs here will jump by 20.1% in five years.
The study also states that during the reporting period, the demand for DataOps specialists will increase by 17.9% in the world. According to The Register, this term at IDC means “using a combination of technologies and methods with a focus on quality for consistent and continuous delivery of important data, combining integrated and process-oriented views of data with automation and methods similar to agile software development” ( using a combination of technologies and methods with a focus on quality for consistent and continuous delivery of data value, combining integrated and process-oriented perspectives on data with automation and methods analogous to agile software engineering). According to these descriptions, both MLDev and DataOps are indeed very niche areas.
Cloud – friend or foe?
According to IDC Vice President for Software Development and Open Source Al Gillen (Al Gillen) and part-time co-author of the study, it cannot be said that the disappearance of the need for system administrators is a sudden phenomenon. He believes that this was quite predictable, especially since something similar has already happened, and moreover, relatively recently.
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“According to statistics, there are now dramatic, once-in-a-generation changes in the global IT workforce,” Gillen said. As an example, he cited the events unfolding in the IT world in 1997-2022, when the Internet suddenly began to develop so rapidly that many IT companies urgently rushed to recruit web developers and “networking experts” into their staff. .
Al Gillen emphasized that due to the very rapidly growing cloud services, the situation with the transformation of the IT workforce is repeating itself again. “The wider adoption of cloud computing is driving similar changes today in the IT teams that support this modern deployment model,” he said.
Gillen also added that the current changes lead to an increase in the number of so-called hybrid positions, when yesterday’s specialist, who simply monitored the performance of the company’s IT infrastructure, is now also forced to write software. According to The Register, in the current situation, system administrators now simply need to refresh their programming skills, because sooner or later their work may begin to depend on their level.
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