Vidya Vasu, head of community, ManageEngine
Vidya Vasu, head of community, ManageEngine

There is one certainty we can all rely on in 2017 – the pace of change will dictate that the role of the sysadmin develops into something we have not seen before.

Termed by many as the “third digital revolution,” the tributaries of change will soon flow together to overwhelm traditional IT: floating to the surface of the industry are new job roles that heavily involve cloud technology and digitalisation. As much as change is a constant in IT, the impact of cloud technology has been extraordinary, altering the way services are consumed both within and without the workplace.

Research from Veritas indicates that roughly 74 percent of UK enterprises with 500 or more employees are currently operating in multi-cloud environments. A new era is being ushered in by a surge in cloud adoption, along with digitisation and market consolidation. This era is one in which IT admins must bring a broader range of skills into their roles. While there is speculation that this third digital revolution will result in a massive obsolescence of IT admin jobs, experts now predict that the fading traditional IT roles will be replaced by far more exciting roles that focus on the cloud and digitalisation. With more businesses now being driven by user-behaviour, the IT admins of the near-future will probably be transformed into DevOps specialists, data scientists, and architects of the cloud and IoT. Drue Reeves, research director for Gartner, states that ‘an IoT Architect is an IT leadership position that is responsible for the vision, strategy, architecture and shepherding of IoT solutions from inception to deployment.

Research has also indicated a growing desire for IT professionals with a firm business background who can properly articulate the value of IT changes to board members, as well as a general shift in the skill sets of IT professionals. If an IT admin is currently responsible for sourcing and deploying solutions to manage infrastructure or services, as well as analysing and troubleshooting problems, then an IoT architect is responsible for the vision, strategy, architecture, and shepherding of IoT solutions from inception to deployment and while there is certainly a disruptive quality to these increasingly ubiquitous technologies, IT admins have never been strangers to change. A similar shift occurred in the 2000s when the rise of virtualisation saw IT admins increase their skills to manage the new variables it introduced. In the past decade, countless technologies have emerged and left their mark on the profession, from wireless technology to mobility and wearables.

As we march forward, IT admins must acquire a deeper understanding of business, analytics, and DevOps. 2017 will see IT professionals sharpen their expertise through cloud-ready tools that deal with business intelligence, data science, cloud analytics, and other areas that are becoming increasingly important to businesses.

While 2017 won't make IT admins obsolete as some have prophesied, it will definitely bring about a shift in what these roles necessitate. This will go beyond the IT department and include more input to the business as a whole. Going digital and adopting the cloud will ensure IT admins are fully challenged. They will be on a constant quest for knowledge to keep pace with the changes these trends entail. One thing will remain constant through all the transitions, however: the admin's tryst with technical challenges and their ability to meet them.

Contributed by Vidya Vasu, head of community, ManageEngine