There was a time when those who had an information systems degree could depend on an IT career supported by infrastructure that never changed too quickly or too extensively. Those days are now long over, particularly if your focus is on infrastructure administration.
Once, a clear focus on a specialty was enough. Today, you need a broad expertise in virtually every aspect of IT systems. What has changed is the nature of the job. For many years, even as corporate use of technology quickly increased, the way it was deployed and configured was largely the same. Servers of some form or another ran applications. Networks connected these downward to client devices. How things have changed with virtualization, cloud computing, automation, mobile devices, bring-your-own-device demands, and ubiquitous connections to data networks.
Data, voice, and video move over the same networks. Tablets begin to displace laptops. On-premises software gives way to software as a service (SaaS). New technologies pour into the data center almost as quickly as the human mind can conceive them. According to Computerworld, there are still plenty of good job prospects for those with administrative education and experience. However, the pace of change is bringing new demands to such positions:
According to IDC projections, by 2015, some 24% of all new business software purchases will be of service-enabled software, while Gartner predicts the market for cloud-based infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) will grow by 47.8% through 2015.
What once would have called for a routine addition of servers and installation of software is more frequently becoming the contracting of services from a third party public cloud. For the many needs that companies won’t trust to others, virtualized server farms, private clouds, and even hybrids of public and private clouds have concentrated the control and reduced the number of administrators needed.
There is an undeniable pressure on corporations. They have worked to reduce costs and become more efficient on every front, including IT. Companies have been successful and push to be even more so. One of the results is that they will have fewer positions for administration. Those who will maintain their careers will need more than specialized areas. They will need to become more than generalists, as well.
The people who will succeed in IT administration will have to become true masters of many types of emerging technologies, being able to help companies embrace new ways of doing business. To be ready will require working in various areas to show practical experience and to undertake advanced studies, possibly a masters of information systems degree, knowing networking, server operating systems, security, and how technology and business integrate practically.