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Half of U.S. I.T. Operations Jobs to Vanish

samzenpus posted more than 9 years ago | from the learn-a-trade dept.

United States 625

Ant writes "A MacCentral article says Gartner, Inc. researchers believe that as many as 50 percent of the IT operational jobs in the U.S. could disappear over the next two decades because of improvements in data center technologies. Donna Scott, a Gartner analyst, said IT workers face a situation similar to that in the manufacturing field, which has lost jobs over the past several decades as automation has improved. Similarly, standardization of IT infrastructure, applications and processes will lead to productivity improvements and a major shift in skill needs, she said."

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Improvements in data center technologies? (5, Funny)

Nine Tenths of The W (829559) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969621)

Is that a new way of saying outsourced to India?

Re:Improvements in data center technologies? (5, Interesting)

Fiz Ocelot (642698) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969666)

No actually the goal would be to eliminate the need to even outsource at all, as you don't need that many people. It will eventually be achieved, just look at how farming and manufacturing has moved. Always towards higher efficiancy. Simply outsourcing isn't exactly efficient.

Re:Improvements in data center technologies? (1, Insightful)

Nine Tenths of The W (829559) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969682)

How has farming moved towards higher efficiency? Have they cut the administrations costs of the subsidies and corporate welfare?

Re:Improvements in data center technologies? (2, Insightful)

danheskett (178529) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969731)

It means that instead of having 100 people pick potatos you have 3 drive massive machines that auto-pick the same spuds. 100 is more than 3. 3 is less than 100.


Re:Improvements in data center technologies? (2, Insightful)

krymsin01 (700838) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969853)

Yeah, but you'll still have to have someone to fix the massive auto-pickers, since it is inevitable that it will break down eventualy. Same thing in IT. Hard drives will fail, people will fail to understand that their computer won't turn on because the power cord isn't plugged in.

Re:Improvements in data center technologies? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10969757)

This happens in other industries as well. Your manufacturing example is a great one. Interestingly, China lost more manufacturing jobs during the past 5 years than the US did. Where did they go? Not to India. They jobs simply went away thanks to improved automation.

This is pretty scary; since it's likely that in our lifetimes computers+robots will be better than Humans in _most_ jobs including

  • all military jobs (fighter pilot, tank driver, battlefiled strategy
  • most construction jobs (welding on bridges & highrises; home building, etc)
  • all manufacturing jobs (cars, chips, etc)
  • most desk-based service jobs (phone answering, 1st level customer support via voice recognition & support lookup tables)
  • many retail jobs (self service checkouts are becommingn common; we have gas stations with zero attendants here, etc)
  • drug design and testing -- computers can match gene databases, simulate protien folding, run stastics, analyze samples, etc better than we
and as soon as a computer becomes a better programmer than a person, the gap will speed up very quickly

I wouldn't be surprised if there are simply no jobs to go around.

Re:Improvements in data center technologies? (4, Interesting)

Eskarel (565631) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969939)

1) Military jobs, if you think that AI is going to be good enough to have computers acting as soldiers any time soon then you either have a really unrealistic view of AI develop or you have an incredibly disrespect for what it takes to be a soldier. Added to that no one is going to trust intelligent robots with guns for a very long time. The military will probably end up using machines more rather than less(possibly to their detriment but that's another topic), but they'll still have to be controlled by someone.

2, 3) Construction and Manufacturing. Possibly though again AI is a long way off. I think this may eventually happen though.

4, 5) Service jobs are a bad idea for automation. It could be done, but won't be in anything but the cheapest of places. People want to buy from other people, get support from other people(preferably ones who speak their native language). I think it will be tried in a few places, but eventually companies will work out that people hate it and only places which would have paid you minimum wage will use it.

6) Drug testing. Unless you know something I don't this isn't even close to ready yet either. Drugs still need to be tested on people to see what actually happens as opposed to what is supposed to happen, and that requires a doctor, there is no script for doctor which works 100% of the time, if there were anyone could do it. As for research, as c omputers are not particularly good at innovation(seeing something other than what they're specifically testing for) it wouldn't be a very efficient process.

The jobs which get replaced are jobs which require repetetive manual labor(robots), or which can be predicted entirely and do not deal with people(scripts).

In general it is a fallacy to believe technology is the solution to every problem, or that it ever will be or should be. There is value in having a person do a job, even a job which you think is pointless and stupid, because people want to deal with other people.

Re:Improvements in data center technologies? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10969819)

Always towards higher efficiancy.

That is 100% not true.

Re:Improvements in data center technologies? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10969674)

In twenty years time, India will be considered too expensive. Maybe Afghanistan will be the hot new outsourcing destination by then...

First (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10969623)

Layoff! (or not)

Ummm (3, Insightful)

jav1231 (539129) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969628)

Gartner, whose wrong on so many other fronts, is going to get this right?

It will be great to oneday say the headline (1)

thammoud (193905) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969645)

Due to IT shrinkage, Gartner has no bullshit to sell and is closing shop. These are the same guys that predicted that OS/2 will clean Windows Clock.

Re:Ummm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10969678)

Man, I'd find your insight so much more reassuring if you were capable of spelling "who's" correctly.

All Your Jobs Are Belong to Chosun (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10969684)

One more crippling bombshell hit the already beleagured North Korean community when Xinhua confirmed that Kim Jong Il portrait buttons were no longer being sported by North Korea's citizens. Recently the North Korean News Agency has discontinued referring to the miniscule despot as "dearest leader" in recent dispatches, only referring to him as "general secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea, chairman of the DPRK National Defense Commission and supreme commander of the Korean People's Army." Coming on the heels of recent intelligence regarding prominent, giant portraits of Kim Jong Il being removed for "restoration" but never being replaced serves to reinforce what we've known all along. Kim Jong Il is dying.
You don't need George W. Bush's sexed up intelligence to invade North Korea. The invasion has already begun and it's coming from within the DPRK funded by Chinese money. Things are looking very bad for Kim Jong Il.
The citizens stand to gain the most in light of recent, covert events. More food, more energy, better medicine and the potential for reunification. With the potential for light at the end of a long, relentless tunnel only serves to more clearly underscore the point. Kim Jong Il is dying.
Let's look at the news. Kim Jong Il has the world's largest collection of Daffy Duck cartoons. Daffy Duck is a cartoon character who can not win against the more charismatic and intelligent Bugs Bunny. Kim Jong Il identifies with Daffy Duck and is doomed to continual failure. Unlike America's Glorious Leader George W. Bush, Kim Jong Il is struggling to ride his father's Stalinist coattails. Already cannibalism in North Korea has fallen back to the 1994 low of 39% per capita. Kim Jong Il maintains a vast harem of foreign women. It's a proven statistic that nobody wants to fuck Northern Korean women which means there are no instances of HIV. HIV is carried by foreign women. Do the math. Already clandestine shipments of AZT have been dropped behind the DMZ and spirited away into the night.
All major intelligence agencies and international news organizations are closely following the story. Kim Jong Il is very sick and his long-term survival prospects are slim to none. If the DPRK remains standing, it will only be in the hearts and minds of thoroughly brainwashed North Korean supersoldiers bred to stave off the South Korean threat of zerg rushes kekekeke gogogogogogo
Fact: Kim Jong Il is dying.

There's this thing about stopped clocks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10969752)

If they're REALLY stopped, then they can't possibly be wrong ALL the time, can they?

Computers will make 95% of tech-analyst jobs go.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10969781)

Computers are very good at running regressions, etc.

I bet they soon do a better job at forecasting things than Gartner, making all tech-industry-analyst jobs go away as well.

Hell, the Magic-8-ball already does better than Forrester. Gartner can't be too far behind.

Re:Computers will make 95% of tech-analyst jobs go (1)

eidechse (472174) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969924)

Not until they're able to create the forecasting algorthims.

Re:Ummm (3, Insightful)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969839)

There's good reason to doubt these predictions, outside of Gartner's previous track record. While certain aspects of today's IT work will become automated, new technologies and products will add to the IT workload and soak up some of those reductions.

Re:Ummm (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10969849)

All people are created equal. This is REALLY stupid .. The economy is improving .. more americans say they have abetter quality of life .. yet there's a movement that's pissed off about indians and "chinks" or "darkies" stealing their jobs.

How exactly is a job stolen? You dont have a right to a damn job! A person who needs a task done has the right to use a robot or hire anyone anywhere or not hire anybody as he chooses fit.

Now yes, that person doesnt have the right to force anybody to do slave labor .. but ask any of the indians with outsourced jobs and they'll tell you that they are living a pretty good life and are happy to work for the low wage. $40k in India is like earning $250k in the United States .. the cost of living is real cheap. People who earn $40k US Dollars in India live in nice houses.

Basically people are just pissed off that nobody wants to use their skills and they are too arrogant to work for cheap. Guess what McDonald's workers and janitors work damn hard and only get paid $6 to $7 an hour .. why not campaign to have them earn $50k as well .. after all $6 an hour is hardly a living wage and a lot of those people have kids too!

If you bitch about having to work for $50k .. change the laws so McDonald's woprkers .. who work just as hard as you (without getting to sit in a comfy chair browsing slashdot) get paid dog shit .. and why cause they couldnt affordc college tuition?

Corporations dont want to pay you $200k to type code .. seriously too bad suck it up.

This will probably get marked troll or whatever .. but I hope you guys think about it before you decide that you are somehow more important than somebody else because of the geographic location as to where you were born you gained by total "luck of the draw". All people are created equal.

Looks like it's time to make.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10969633)

Windows 98 Server :)

Helpdesk (3, Insightful)

fembots (753724) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969634)

Outsourcing aside, helpdesk is probably a IT-related job that can never be automated, no?

Re:Helpdesk (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10969718)

Despite the attempts of many to do just that. Look at automated help systems.


Make sure the computer is plugged in. If the computer is not plugged in, please plug it in.

Does this solve your problem?
Yes | No

Easily Done: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10969720)

Just create an AI-based answer service, and program it to provide useless or incorrect solutions, as well as blaming the callers for the errors and/or denying the issue exists. Make sure it has a thick Indian accent. Maybe even toss in a few randomly generated pseudo-words just in case it's too intelligible.

Re:Helpdesk (5, Funny)

Phleg (523632) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969771)

Of course it can be automated. We just need to automate users first. Possibly with a small shell script.

Re:Helpdesk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10969777)

Outsourcing aside, helpdesk is probably a IT-related job that can never be automated, no?

About half of it can -- the part consisting of "reboot your computer."

Re:Helpdesk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10969814)

The company RightNow does a pretty good job at it.

Re:Helpdesk (2, Insightful)

JanneM (7445) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969840)

It is starting to be automated already, in several ways.

First, recognize that most work is at the first tier - people reading scripts, mostly ("Is it plugged in? Is the switch in the 'ON' position? Have you actually checked? Please check again now, sir."). We are seeing the start of real synthetic telehpone operation in other areas (seems every train and airline company has such a system for booking today). It's likely a matter of not too many years before it is used - and used fairly well - in preference to large callcenters.

Second, more and more of the "advanced" stuff will become so much easier to handle that it, too will gradually move down to the level at which it can be handled by scripts. Better diagnostic tools (not to mention real automated remote diagnostics), and steady, gradual improvements in the understanding of the problem areas are doing this.

Third, people are becoming more comfortable with remote assistance (we are becoming more comfortable with remote anything), and at the same time, tools for remote administration are becoming better and more sophisticated. Where you might have once needed ten people roaming around assisting people, you may now have three or four - two doing most of the previous work (no time needed to actually 'roam'), and two to go around doing the few things you really need to be there for.

It won't elliminate the job, of course, and noboy claims that it will. But just like in other areas mentioned (manufacturing and agriculture), you will gradually have a lot fewer people doing the work.

Re:Helpdesk (1)

wasted (94866) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969865)

I can see automation increasing:

For hardware related issues, press 1. For software related issues, press 2. If you are unsure, press 3. (1 is pressed.) If the computer will not power up, press 1. If the computer powers up but does not boot past the Power On Self Test screen, press 2. If the computer does pass the Power On Self Test but does not make it to the operating system screen, press 3. If you are unsure, press 4. (etc.)

The number of support personnel needed can be reduced with automation. The process probably cannot be totally automated, but as helpdesk software advances and the customers' software and hardware become more stable and dependable, the demand for support from the helpdesk will likely drop.

10 to 20 years (5, Insightful)

MrRTFM (740877) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969640)

Don't panic - this in 10-20 years time. If we are still fucking around reinventing the wheel (scripts, repeated processes, crappy hardware, patching CRAP software, etc.. then I will be amazed, and dissappointed.

It just means we will be doing other IT related stuff.

Re:10 to 20 years (1)

Em Ellel (523581) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969735)

It just means we will be doing other IT related stuff.

Right on. People always affraid of jobs disappearing and often forget that there is always new jobs being created. It is called progress. Every major labor saving invention puts people out of job. But it frees them up to do something new.


Re:10 to 20 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10969836)

The big difference is that this time it's likely that computers will be _better_ than people at the "something new" instead.

Once a computer is both smarter (in the many ways you can measure smartness) and stronger than people -- there won't be that "something new" to go to.

This will happen in our lifetime.

Re:10 to 20 years (5, Interesting)

nomadic (141991) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969856)

Right on. People always affraid of jobs disappearing and often forget that there is always new jobs being created. It is called progress. Every major labor saving invention puts people out of job. But it frees them up to do something new.

Tell that to people in the rust belt who lost their manufacturing jobs in the 70s and haven't found a replacement in 30 years. A lot of people just struggle on through multiple low-paying, benefit-less job, service industry jobs, putting spouses and family members to work, government assistance, and just plain adopting a significantly lower standard of living. You all want that? Judging by the comments I see on slashdot, it looks like it.

Wake up. Jobs don't magically appear when needed. A large number of you are gonna be screwed when automation and outsourcing leaves you in your 40s and 50s without a job. You'd better pray social security's still around then, but that's kind of a slim hope.

Of course, it doesn't matter to me, I moved out of the IT field into something that can't be outsourced so easily. But I just don't like what's going to happen to all my old friends and coworkers when the industry bottoms out.

Oh no, you're saying, if you're smart you'll find a way to adapt. Not necessarily. When 100,000 jobs become 10,000, maybe 10,000 people are going to manage to get by, but what about the other 90,000? "Finding a niche" doesn't always work, and a lot of very smart people can lose out just through chance.

Don't believe me? Prior to the 90s intelligence and technical brilliance more often got you a job at Radio Shack than at IBM. There are generations of people with your natural talents who were unable to find their "niche" just because it didn't really exist.

Re:10 to 20 years (4, Insightful)

cubicledrone (681598) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969742)

Don't panic - this in 10-20 years time.

About the time current graduates start applying for home loans.

Re:10 to 20 years (1)

Jonny Ringo (444580) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969762)

And even if they fix it all, don't worry! The jokes on them. If they fire everyone whose going to buy all of there stuff?

Re:10 to 20 years (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969894)

People in other countries. The way it's shaping up now 40 years from now you're going to see a globally oriented class system. Every country, 1st world or 3rd world will have 60% poor-lower class, 30% middle class, 9% upper class, and 1% ultrarich.

Those managers doing the automating and outsourcing will do just fine.

Re:10 to 20 years (1)

skaffen42 (579313) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969910)

I'm not even sure you will be doing other stuff. I remember, when I was starting to earn a living as a programmer, how everybody was predicting the end of the profession due to CASE tools.

Many years later I still program for a living. Not much has changed expect that the IDEs have gotten better (or rather been invented - and now I'm dating myself). So I guess you might be right about having moved past scripting and continual patching, but I wouldn't even bet on that.

This is the Dark Side of Linux adoption. (1, Insightful)

Rimbo (139781) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969651)

With Windows, you needed a whole staff to manage all your servers.

With Linux, you can hire a bearded guru part-time to keep you up to date. ;)

Re:This is the Dark Side of Linux adoption. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10969880)

What's the downside to that? I get paid BANK and only have to work 3 days a week!

This gives me plenty of time to grow that beard.

Good (1)

Pres. Ronald Reagan (659566) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969654)

As we get more efficient, more people will be able to focus on things other than those that are better handled by machines. This is a good thing, people.

In Korea... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10969658)

Only jobs of Old people Vanish..

Users (1)

cbelle13013 (812401) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969659)

As long as there are users there will always be need for support staff. I can't imagine Judy from Accounting fixing using the microsoft tools to fix her Access. I can't imagine support staff being cut at all actually.

Re:Users (1)

javaxman (705658) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969724)

I can't imagine support staff being cut at all actually.

I can imagine it, but it's either terrifying or funny, depending on how sadistic you are. Somewhere, someone has a PHB who decided his employees didn't need a someone staffing an IT help desk...

Buzzword Bullshit Alert! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10969661)

Gartner calls this change "real-time infrastructure," which involves service-oriented architectures, the elimination of communications barriers and dynamic alignment of IT with business priorities.

Yeah, right. 2024 will be exactly like that. (4, Insightful)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969669)

Okay, seriously, how the heck do you make *any* predictions about what's going to be happening in the computing industry 20 years from now? This seems like a definate "in other news, 84% of statistics are made up on the spot" item.

Think about trying to predict 2004 back in '84. PCs were just starting to take off, Al Gore was just starting to bury the first fiber connections that would become the internet, IBM was going to be the big power in personal computing...

Nobody could have foreseen that we'd all be selling the shit out of our basements on eBay, listening to huge music libraries on devices the size of a deck of cards and spending our work days trolling Slashdot?

C'mon, Garner, who are we trying to fool here?

Re:Yeah, right. 2024 will be exactly like that. (4, Funny)

motherjoe (716821) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969743)

Yeah, I am still waiting for my flying car and domestic robot to all my chores. :)

Re:Yeah, right. 2024 will be exactly like that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10969859)

C'mon, Garner, who are we trying to fool here?

None. This is money talking.

More precisely, what will have value in the future.

Know it and you will be rich.

Re:Yeah, right. 2024 will be exactly like that. (5, Insightful)

JanneM (7445) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969890)

Look at it from the other way: have you any reason to believe that the IT industry will buck the trend and not improve worker efficiency, unlike any other industry in existence?

The Gartner analysis isn't preposterous; it's just trite.

Bugs (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10969670)

Don't worry ... I'm busy adding countless bugs and security flaws....send more beer and I'll try harder.

Damn you Bourne! (3, Funny)

oliveaddict (784716) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969685)

Damn, I am going to be replaced by my own shell script.

Re:Damn you Bourne! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10969726)

I guess that would make you a shell of a man.

Re:Damn you Bourne! (1)

oliveaddict (784716) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969953)

Argh! You have foiled my evil plan to molt my man shell in exchange for the shell of "Anonymous Coward"! Damn you and your 5 PM wittiness! Haha. Seriously though, the irony of my automation scripts pushing me out of a job was seducing me for comment. In reality though, $someone needs to maintain implemented automation tools. In the end, all this means is that IT administrators will have to work harder at sustaining themselves as a valuable resource for their industry.

Oh and Gartner is just SOOOOO accurate... (1)

thpr (786837) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969695)

... in its past predictions.

[laughing out loud]

In July 2003, Gartner predicted 10% of all IT jobs (at vendors) and 5% in enterprises would disappear by December 2004 [internetnews.com] . When they show the data on how accurate THAT prediction was, I'll consider being worried about the new results from their dart board.

Re:Oh and Gartner is just SOOOOO accurate... (1)

xenocide2 (231786) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969829)

Obviously you don't think that the IT jobs have left, but Sykes closed down its relatively large IT call center in Manhattan, KS. Thankfully someone else bought it, but for a short while it looked as though there was yet another wage depressing factor in Small Town America. But the possibility is certainly there!

How do you think the job market will look if oracle or Ellison simply bought Peoplesoft and closed shop? Certainly in the short term, there'd be some demand for transitional consultants. But I have to wonder how many people the number two database company provides a salary for.

I'll believe it when I see it. (2, Insightful)

Gadzinka (256729) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969696)

There's nothing (short of AI) that can make infrastructure set up and maintain itself, so I'll believe it when I see it. Or perhaps they have Windows Longhorn in mind, in which case I'd say they are rather optimistic predicting that it will be ready in 20 years.


Re:I'll believe it when I see it. (1)

malfunct (120790) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969895)

The goal isn't to have the infrastructure maintain itself. The goal is to have the infrastructure be maintained by 1/2 has many people as it takes to maintain it today. I think this is possible and I also think it is a good thing. When the sysadmins aren't spending all of thier time applying patches maybe they can spend some time doing other amazing things in the datacenter. I hope its a transition of jobs for those people to something new and exciting rather than a complete loss.

Adapt Or Die!! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10969704)

Oh gee, what a revelation. Improvements in technology and efficiency lead to declines of obsolete jobs.

Those blacksmith and buggy whip repair jobs are gone.

This is all Bush's fault.+5 Insightful

Quoting Charles Wang on Gartner (5, Funny)

whatthef*ck (215929) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969706)

"I want to choose my words carefully here, so I'm not misunderstood," he said. [] "They're a bunch of fucking idiots."

Automation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10969707)

IT Guy: I... I've been replaced by a worthless machine! Oh, the irony... I was the engineer of my own fate! WHY!!!

HAL: That really hurts, Dave.

No (2, Insightful)

cubicledrone (681598) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969708)

because of improvements in data center technologies.

No. It's because business finds it much more convenient to unfairly require employees to compete constantly for their own jobs. The workplace is now a sour, hostile, toxic environment for everyone except management and shareholders.

Everyone else: customers, employees, vendors, neighborhoods, the community and government, have to pay double and triple in the form of higher prices, constant irritating advertising, shitty quality, poor service, dirty stores, empty shelves, lost tax revenue and rude employees.

Employers have responsibilities beyond their earnings. Few are meeting them.

Re:No (1)

Boronx (228853) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969763)

He gets the decline of manufacturing jobs completely wrong. The Rust Belt isn't called the Rust Belt because its filled with shiny new robotic factories.

Jobs will probably balance out (2, Insightful)

Alascom (95042) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969730)

Although performance improvements will reduce the need for staff on a per computer basis, but the demand for computing resources will continue to increase resulting in what will probably be a net loss of zero.

It always interesting how a report can look at 1 contributing factor and ignore all the others when drawing a conclusion.

Operators, sound off! (5, Insightful)

Rogue Leader (786192) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969736)

As a Data Center Operator (OS/390 mainframe), I have to chime in on this one. That big, black monolith always needs someone baby-sitting it. Major problems are rare, but there's enough little stuff happening around the clock to warrant attention. And if your organization is anything like mine, they are brainwashed by vendors *cough(Siemens)cough* and are migrating from those rock solid boxes from Big Blue to an array of Win2k servers running MS SQL. yes, it scares me too. But it's only for the main Clinical system for the region's leading hospital; what could go wrong. Anyone in the know, can tell you that will be more support-intensive.

Kudos for calling yourself an "operator" (2, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969855)

I myself feel that a decent part of the implosion in the amount of IT jobs available is a direct result of too many fresh-faced kids putting "system administrator" on their resumes when really they only qualify as operators. And operators of fairly unsophisticated systems, at that -- sure, z/OS systems "run themselves" most of the time, but let's see you put a 21-year-old Linux geek in charge of a mainframe.

I don't think so (1)

Gary Destruction (683101) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969749)

Unless they plan on running that Datacenter with advanced AI, they have another thing coming. Not only can the servers and software screw up, but so can the machines running them.

An assembly line is one thing. But a datacenter is another thing altogether. Isn't heat and airflow an issue at datacenters? Wouldn't making things automated result in more heat because of all the machinery invovled?

MacCentral said this!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10969751)

"A MacCentral article says Gartner, Inc. researchers believe that as many as 50 percent of the IT operational jobs in the U.S. could disappear over the next two decades because of improvements in data center technologies."

That's a bit of a strange report from a Mac site - I'd assume that a very small number of that 50% is Mac admin jobs. Moreover, I'd say that Mac sysadmins have some way to grow in the next 2 decades over their current numbers, given the reception of the Xserve and Xraid.

Conversely, what happens if the number of people requiring enterprise-level storage (SANs etc. cos that's where most consolidation is at atm) increases? Sure a bunch of people can manage more kit, but more kit of more companies is a whole other story...

This shouldn't be surprising (2, Interesting)

ArmedLemming (18042) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969755)

to anyone here in the IT biz. Maybe it's something the IT people here have buried their heads in the sand about it, but anyone who sits on their laurels (knowledge) in the IT industry is bound to be finding their position slowly eroded away by the improvements in tech.

One upside to the new/improving tech eroding the need for IT jobs that springs to mind is the opportunity for someone to start a 'Personal Technologist' business. Anyone who can master Blackberrys, PDAs, iPods/mp3 players, etc would be in big demand from all the PHBs with the gadgets but without the time or inclination to RTFM. I think that'd be a natural progression for most IT people I know...

Just like telephone operators... (4, Insightful)

Nova Express (100383) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969783)

Remember the glorious days of manual switchboards? Roughly 98% of those jobs disappared. Oddly enough, however, the telephone industry didn't reduce its overall workforce by 98%. As technology elimiates old jobs, new ones are created for new technologies. By 2024, major jobs for Slashdot readers might include immersive holographic engineer and "wranglers" for self-evolving computer code.

And as for the Gartner Group predicting the future of IT two decades from now, who died and made them Hari Seldon? Predicting 2004 in 1984 probably sounded a whole lot like "IBM and AT&T dominate the personal computer market, PCs have reached almost 30% of people's homes, most PCs come with a 500 MHz RISC chip or higher, with over a megabyte of memory and a blazing fast 16K modem! The sales of software giants Borland, Ashton-Tate and Lotus exceed $2 billion annually." Etc. You just can't predict the future of technology with anything remotely like accuracy that far out.

Not on my watch. (4, Interesting)

Bug-Y2K (126658) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969784)

I actually manage a small datacenter [forest.net] . One thing I have learned after 10 years in the Internet Server hosting and colocation game is SERVICE is what sets you apart from competitors. The big .com era hosting superstars (exodus, colo.com, etc) all built their datacenters with the concept of "lights out" and "reboot button monkeys" for (skeleton) staff. Where are they now?

So long as software is wriiten by flawed [microsoft.com] humans and small business clients need to have smart people on-call to assist them when they delete files, or bork their server again... datacenters will require support staff.

If you ever call our support number and get some guy in Bangalore answering the phone, you will know that I'm dead... 'cause until then, I'm hiring geeks - right here. Thank you.

Give me a break (3, Insightful)

SamMichaels (213605) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969786)

Data center automation is removing the need for people.....I'll buy that.

However, the number of computer users in the country is drastically increasing each year. Jobs vanishing? I don't think so.

Instead of making $30/hr sitting in a NOC, go out and make $50/hr removing spyware. Duh.

They'd better be at least half right... (4, Interesting)

rewt66 (738525) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969793)

If we have as many systems as I think we're going to have in 20 years, and one person can still only effectively manage the same number of systems as they can now, we're going to have big problems.

Really, even if they are 100% right, this is not a bad thing. The less-capable half of sysadmins will have to find something more useful to do. I say "more useful" because, from the larger view, the view of the economy as a whole, IT people are mostly wasted. They don't produce anything (well, they do design and roll out networks, but most of their work is to keep our incredibly brittle systems from falling apart. It would be less wasteful to make less brittle systems.)

Hypocritical IT Workers (2, Insightful)

MrWa (144753) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969798)

So...where are the comparisons to buggy whip makers and obosoleted or inefficient workers when it comes to IT workers?

If the technology or cheaper labor exists, shouldn't businesses make use of them - just as the music industry should make use of new technology and not depend on legislation to save a dying business model?

Re:Hypocritical IT Workers (1)

cubicledrone (681598) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969943)

If the technology or cheaper labor exists, shouldn't businesses make use of them


Cheaper isn't better. It's just cheaper. Business is about more than earnings.

1984 (2, Interesting)

Snorklefish (639711) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969800)

From the article:
...as many as 50 percent of the IT operational jobs in the U.S. could disappear over the next two decades because of improvements in data center technologies.
To put this in perspective, imagine someone predicting the rise of the commercial internet, the dotcom bubble and its bust... all in 1984.

I've been in IT (IS, MIS etc.) since 1980... (5, Interesting)

zorkmid (115464) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969807)

and the ever elusive "they" were saying this way back then.

About coding (Joe user would just describe what he wanted done to the computer and wah-lah. It would program itself).

About Databases.

And about sys admin.

Eventually, if they keep yammering out this prediction, they'll may be right.

I'm not holding my breath though.

This is a good thing, right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10969808)

Everyone knows robots are cool

Re:This is a good thing, right? (1)

viva_fourier (232973) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969852)

" Everyone knows robots are cool"

No way. Robots need old people's medicine for fuel. And when they grab you with their metal claws, you won't be able to break free because they're metal. And robots are strong.

Programmers still safe.. (1)

tobe (62758) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969810)

.. but all the same.. don't you ever wonder.. with all the productivity benefits the new technology brings why is it that we seem to be working harder for longer for less benefits, less pay and less holidays than we ever did before..

It's really about time we started to seriously question what it's all for people..

Re:Programmers still safe.. (1)

cubicledrone (681598) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969912)

Nah. People are too busy pointing and laughing at people who lose their jobs.

Real wages have increased only .5% since the late 70s.

What would my children say??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10969821)


Whew! Good thing I'm not one of those guys! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10969832)

"IT operations, which encompass areas such as systems administration, incident response and change management, today account for about 55 percent of an IT department's labor cost, said Scott, who spoke at the Stamford, Conn.-based research firm's annual data center conference here in Las Vegas."

Good thing I'm a web services programmer who specializes in working closely with small businesses to develop their IT infrastructures, web and data management systems, programming custom tools and database applications, designing web pages including concepting, layout and graphic design, and so on and so on.

I've been saying it for years: the concept of a generic "IT" job is dead. The concept of having a company webmaster, for example, who just makes page updates and other web duties is long dead. And I've always known that a lot of admin functionality that currently isn't was bound to be automated.

You've gotta have multiple skills and be able to work closely with business decision makers to assist them (and guide them) towards increased profitiblity, time savings, streamlined processes, etcetera. *Those* are the jobs that can't be shipped overseas, and won't ever be.

Reminds me of Schrodingers Cat Trilogy (1)

Nine Tenths of The W (829559) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969833)

In which increased automation leads to 90% of the workforce being unemployed. In an ironic twist, industrialists are forced to push for huge welfare rises in order to give the few remaining workers and companies a market to sell to. The rest of the human race spends their time fucking, getting stoned and watching TV

Reasons for the loss of IT jobs (2, Insightful)

Game Genie (656324) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969841)

Outsourcing may be a major reason for the loss of IT jobs, but I think there are other major factors. As laymen get more technologically aware BOFH type abuses by IT are becoming harder to get away with, and, as a result, IT staffing is shrinking to more reasonable levels. I'm not trying to troll here, but IT in many ways is a solution that creates its own problem in order to create job security, some examples:

Windows vs. Linux or Mac on the desktop:

Don't use Window's and massively decrease workload and nessecarry staffing for IT.

Stick with M$ because saving the company money and incresing efficiency makes me and my department less important.
Choice of servers:

*nix: It Works®

Windows: Shitty performance = more servers and more problems = $$$
If I was a mechanic and I intentionally fsck'ed cars so I could get paid to fix them I could be arrested, and IT is bitching about job security? Fsck off!

Aren't we exaggerating a bit? (3, Insightful)

nwbvt (768631) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969850)

The headline says "Half of US IT Operations Jobs to Vanish". What does that sound like? Some event is about to happen that will wipe out 50% of IT operations jobs.

The summary reveals this is a prediction by someone about what types of jobs will be available decades from now. To put this in context, consider what types of jobs were available 20 years ago.

Read the article and you learn these numbers are disputed by other experts.

What would be so wrong with this more realistic headline:
"Controversial Study Predicts Decline in US IT Operations by 50%"?


Automation? Yeah, right. (3, Insightful)

zymurgy_cat (627260) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969857)

I've got the impression that Donna Scott has never worked in a factory or in manufacturing. Yes, automation has eliminated jobs, but that's not the reason manufacturing has been hit so hard over the years. It's cheaper labor overseas and being crushed in the quality game by other countries.

While automation can improve productivity, it's never the magic bullet or "paradigm-shifting" force people claim it to be. At best, it's good for dangerous or incredibly routine tasks. It's also good for high tolerance applications (ie, laser cutting sheet steel to within 0.0001").

But when it comes to assembling complex parts or performing tasks which can vary from product to product, you still need a human brain to do the work. I fail to see how the analogy holds for IT.

sex withB a troolkore (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10969884)

3 simple steps! what we've known than this BSD box,' on my Pentium Pro irc.easynews.com Wash off hands project returns The Cathedral they want you to worthwhile. It's

You don't need to pay folks to reboot computers! (1)

micron (164661) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969886)

In many of the data centers that I visit, people are working on the floor with the sole purpose of doing mundane tasks such as rebooting computers and reloading operating systems.

This can be automated. Items such as remote management hardware are only getting cheaper. Technologies such as IPMI will replace the need to even have secondary remote management networks.

As technology improves and gets less expensive, less people will be required to do these mundane tasks.

This makes complete sense that there will be a reduction in these types of jobs because of this. Hopefully, the affected folks are smart enough to learn new skills and move on.

Historically.. (3, Interesting)

LordOfYourPants (145342) | more than 9 years ago | (#10969892)

Just out of curiosity, is this the first time in our history that a group of workers have put themselves out of business by collectively creating tools to put themselves out of business?

It seems like a fine line in definition between 1) being supplanted by new technology to automate things you were doing before and 2) putting yourself out of work by doing your job well.

This isn't like a loom being created by someone else to put knitters out of business, this is like a knitter knitting a loom that could, in turn, knit other sweaters or auto-generate looms or something along those lines.

Greeaaatt. I'm a senior in college majoring in IT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10969940)

Greeaaatt. I'm a senior in college majoring in IT. Should I just keep my job as a fine dining waiter?

It doesn't get much better than this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10969944)

Am I the only one who thinks that this is a very pessimistic view of IT systems evolution? It should be 90% of the nitwit IT jobs that disappear if there's any reasonable amount of progress toward maturity of the IT industry and the tools it provides. How many of you would put up with having a roofer on staff of a small company just to keep nailing shingles back on every day? Do household refrigerators require frequent updates to their control systems? Sigh... It seems I've passed away and it's getting uncomfortably warm around here.
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