Can Technology Save the Overworked Sys Admin?

The recent 2012 Computerworld Salary Survey indicated IT workers are being asked to do much more work with little or no increase in pay. Eighty-five percent of workers said they experience increased pressure to be more productive, even if their workload hadn’t increased. The survey ended on a high note, indicating that salaries and hiring are beginning to rebound after several years of decline.

But the pressure to do more, with less people and little increase in compensation isn’t likely to go away soon. Companies these days are completely reliant on their IT infrastructure. Besides the day to day maintenance, troubleshooting, and management, IT staff need to plan and implement disaster recovery, backup, and cloud migrations.

To make matters worse, companies often move forward on IT purchases and implementations without enough planning. That leads to IT sprawl, stovepipe solutions, and management nightmares for systems administrators. Not that there’s any one to blame for the situation. Often companies grow so fast, and need to meet their new objectives quickly so they move forward on the surest quickest path to get there. It is just the way IT has functioned and grown over the last two decades.

Is there any hope for the over-worked and underpaid IT staff? Actually there is. The very foundation of their careers will come to rescue them – if companies and organizations recognize the opportunity and the necessity of the change. Technology continues to move forward, even though how people use it changes much more slowly.

Cloud computing has received the accolades of late for its ability to reduce costs and improve performance. And certainly cloud computing – whether public, private, or hybrid – can help alleviate some of the workload.

But another option is the move towards converged infrastructure (CI) – or fabric computing. The term fabric computing is an analogy to explain how the nodes (think servers) are interconnected with other nodes. If you could look at a converged infrastructure from far away you’d see something that resembles a fabric weave. By using racks of blades to consolidate the server processing, storage area networks for data, and virtual I/O interfaces, companies can improve performance and reduce the amount of support needed to run the same business requirements. Special software created to maintain a CI offers easier management than traditional sprawled administration.

In short, it makes a sys admins life much easier.
Administering a converged infrastructure takes a certain set of skills as well. And as more and more companies, and cloud service providers, realize the benefits those skills will be in demand. So if you’re lucky enough to work at a company that takes the CI plunge your quality of life will likely improve. If you’re on the low end of the totem pole it might also mean you’re out of job.

But don’t fret. The Computerworld study also showed that 87% of hiring managers said they would be adding new jobs this year. And the IT unemployment rate has been about half of the national average. So the future technology of IT will bring changes – some welcome and others not – but overall the average IT worker would benefit from implementation of the latest IT technology.

Are you overworked? Would you welcome the change in infrastructure to make it easier to manage or do you fear what that might mean for your job?