What should I learn? What will be the future of IT professionals?
The other day, I received an email from one of my colleagues, who is in Turkey. Murat is a very experienced Windows System Engineer who I know for a very long time and communicate with from time to time.
Unfortunately, he is about to lose his job. The COVID 19 Pandemic is an excuse, but Murat says the real reason is that the company has wanted to invest in Cloud for a while.
Thereby Murat is unfortunate and disappointed. Most importantly, he is in a panic. Because the technology he has built his career on is disappearing very quickly, and he cannot decide what he should do or what he needs to start learning for the future.
My friend is right. You must have heard these sentences from the people who promote their products and companies in the fairs or events you had attended;
“The future is in IBM Cloud” “The future is in AWS” “All will be Kubernetes” “Everything will be Openshift” “The Network will merge with SDN” “Google is the world giant, whatever they say, that happens” “The 450 out of the top 500 companies use Oracle.” “There is no bigger company than SAP in the world that developing ERP software.”
These words are being told by the people who are earning money by marketing the company they are working in, and as in every marketing text, they are excessively exaggerated. Most of the time, they contain the wrong propositions in a minor or significant rate.
Also, apart from the marketing staff, let’s don’t pass for sure without mentioning to people who have ideas (!) to get more followers on social media by saying, “This is going to happen, learn this!”
“Questioning everything” should be the main principle to reach out to the correct information in the age we are living. No matter who said it, without accepting it as the truth right away, it is necessary to research, and in case if it is possible, it is essential to experience it, and then to decide whether it is right or wrong.
Answering the question at the beginning with a magical formula as the marketer and the social media influencers do is hard. For as much as the information technology is a sector which changes the fastest and most profound.
For instance, when I was new in my work life, there was no internet yet, the file exchange was being made through BBS. Novell Netware was the only network environment, and MS-DOS was the most common operating system. (MS 1993)
Time has passed by trying to catch new technologies that came one after another, and it still passes. I can certainly say that, while developing ourselves to do our job as it deserves, it is vital not to get hopeless by thinking, “I will never catch up.” Accepting the truth of “The only thing that doesn’t change is the change itself” is essential.
Who asks the question?
Let us talk about the question in the main title. The answer is changing, depends on the person who asks it. In this sense, we can speak of 3 different profiles.
1. A Juvenile Person or a Parent who would like to have a career path his or her education life
“Undoubtedly, be sure that you or your child likes IT”. Because even it is perceived as a sector that makes you earn good money, it contains incredible challenges in itself. So as you cannot practice the things you have learned at university in real life, this person has to improve himself and continuously learn new things.
Academically if this person can channel to another discipline instead of computer engineering and take courses that provide conditions to improve himself on IT subjects would be more suitable in modern-day conditions.
2. A person who is in the first year of his career
My answer to this person has always shown an alteration over the years. If someone asked me this question in the 2000s, I would have told Delphi, and Windows environments are the most competitive areas in the market. (Rapid-Application). If you asked in 2010, I would have said Linux and Automation.
If you ask today, my answer is:
“You should know Cloud-Native and Kubernetes.”
3. The experienced IT Specialist
What I am going to say here is more complicated. Because as Murat experienced, all the expertise they gained by endeavoring over the years and the technologies they have experienced, unfortunately, will have a severe transformation in a couple of years.
It looks like this group is going to be the most transformed in the future. Softwares are in the process of transition from a monolithic architecture to Microservices. Thereby, also the software developers need to change themselves in this subject.
New methodologies such as DevOps, Agile, Scrum, and SRE, will be used more in the software in the upcoming period by everyone. Besides, I need to emphasize that we will start to hear the name of a discipline in a short time that doesn’t exist yet and requires much different expertise.
In this sense, apart from Frontend, Backend, and Fullstack, we can foresee there will be other specialties such as only Kubernetes advertising, Kubernetes Ops, Kubernetes Network, etc.
It has been thought that the issue of ITIL and the fragmented management of processes with the segregation of specialties will decrease significantly, even not as entirely in the following years.
As a summary, being a Versatilist or Multi-disciplinary will be more critical in the upcoming period.
Linux/ Windows System Engineers
We can easily say that the future for Windows environments is not very bright. But also about Linux, it would not be right to allege that everything is fine.
In the upcoming years, we will see the Windows environment and Windows Services much less because Microsoft does not want to develop a new operating system. They are not wrong about that.
Millions of lines of codes that need to be patched continuously and releasing an update, hundred of thousands engineer who will authorize this code and the result: an operating system which does not have a very significant difference than the old version.
The only subject you can innovate is the color of the trash, to change the place of the start button, etc.
In the Windows server, the situation is a little more different. Concentrate on Microservices and Game areas, the innovative zones by stepping away from the platforms slowly, which you have developed, such as IIS, SqlServer.
For Linux, everything is not as good as it looks from outside anymore. There is a severe issue of Kernel, and the thing we call as Linux is actually a Kernel and the distributions that surround it.
There is also a side that is being defeated by capitalism. So much so that Linux, as supposedly an open-source operating system, resembles Windows that has been called “Devil” for years and being criticized ruthlessly.
Big companies develop Linux entirely by themselves, and it is only possible through the agency of Linux Foundation to attend the events where they are sharing the results.
“Linux Foundation” is a formation that unfortunately keeps completely outside the people of the open-source world like us. Because the participation fees for these training and events that I am mentioning are astronomic. You can also check to understand what I mean better: https://www.linuxfoundation.org
I recommend to all database administrators to have online courses given on the internet about scripts which can communicate with API’s and to learn Python beside their expertise in SQL tune.
The Database Administrators will be the ones who struggle to adapt the most. Unfortunately, all the experiences and the knowledge they have earned in years are losing in value every passing minute. The Database Administrators definitely should combine their skills in database administration with Cloud technologies.
Storage and Backup
The topic of storage had activation over the past five years by Dell EMC’s saying that “We are a Software-Defined Storage company” 5 years ago and by them using the Hyperconverged infrastructure.
But this activation does not seem to continue for a long time. I advise our friends specialized on this subject to improve themselves on Network and again on Python.
I can tell them certainly to learn to automatize the work they have done, and they should work, especially on distributive structures over the Network. They can take online courses about Network. It looks like in the future, that subject will more likely be nested with security.
To get information about Obje Storage, Ceph and K8S would be to the point. Hyperconverged infrastructures look like the latest developments of the present day; however, the migration to software-defined structures and Cloud will continue.
Monitoring and Reporting
These people are in the group, which would be adapted as the easiest to be multidisciplinary. After all, they know Python or any script’s language, they are aware of the process as a result of monitoring.
They need to get expertise in one of the subjects of Microservice, Linux, and Network. Even the feature of monitoring becomes different, it will undoubtedly continue to exist.
The requirements and the requests of the companies are changing. IT Managers definitely should take the Public Cloud Course. They need to do this not because they will practice but to understand the topic.
Because in the following 10 to 20 years, the terminologies used in Cloud technologies will be natural and daily. They need to improve themselves by taking courses to understand these new terminologies and to use them in the strategies to be applied in the companies that they are working.