Here’s a question for you. Is change really afoot in the way your organisation ‘does’ IT? I know, dumb question, of course it is – but not in the way that some might think. For a start, business and IT are constantly about change, for better or worse. My corporate days used to be full of meetings, initiatives, reorganisations, …
Superficial or deep down?
On the surface a lot is happening. Companies are doing a lot more business with web interfaces and B2B. Short-circuiting the need for actual people to get involved. However, once you peel off this veneer, you'll find IT departments that are still staffed by the same old (old as in unchanging, not age) people, with the same old problems, doing the same old things: day in, day out. The biggest difference here is that they're doing it as employees of an out sourced, cost-cutting, process-driven organisation rather than as a crucial part of the parent organisation itself.
IT is now seen just as a commodity, not an enabling part of a company.
What about the future? Probably just more of the same: few reasons to get excited about working in IT, more processes to be ticked, more "efficiency" savings (the new word for redundancy), more standardisation, less possibility for personal initiative or improvement. Although it bears a lot of similarities to picking cauliflowers, at least you don't get wet when it rains.
Change? Not really...
As the sole IT bod for a SME, things change all the time - currently setting up virtualization but this is just another way of doing IT. As a whole the only thing that worries me is that I will be outsourced and end up working for an IT service provider - might be better, might not... but then things change right?
The Problem with Predicitions
..especially arises when they concern the future.
My GUESS is that
* more and more applications will be delivered like Google Mail or Google Applications whithout all the update and config hassle of PCs. A standard webbrowser will do. Whether the "cloud" resides in the intranet or is delivered by a service provider is a secondary detail.
* External Service Providers will take over more and more tasks like Network Defense and provisioning/maintenance of PCs and the network gear. Only specialised things like custom development will be an in-house function.
ERP companies will take over the task of running an ERP installation - irrespective of the server location.
* specialized and expensive server hardware will be replaced by large clusters of cheap PCs. Failover and Load Balancing will be done by systems software. Google is already doing that. SAP, Oracle and MS will surely follow that trend.
* Software Development will not change much - it will still be very expensive and error-prone. This means that the push towards standard packages remains strong.
* There will still be millions of active C/C++ programmers by 2020. Efficiency will be important for many, many applications at that time.
* IT Project execution will become more professional as more and more managers have now had significant exposure to IT projects and technology. Hopefully the objectives will become also more realistic and the project feature list smaller. Managers will understand that more smaller projects (as opposed to few huge projects) reduce risk dramatically and in the end be much cheaper.
*Overall IT will be pervasive in everyday life. We will use the smartphone and the internet to perform a lot of things we can't imagine today. Like requesting a "Baxi", which is a kind of Bus/Taxi one requests two hours before and which will cheaply transport people over long distances. The server will schedule vehicles to collect many persons on a similar route, based on dynamic demand. Location-based services will alert us to interesting places in a remote city we currently visit. Or they might tell us that a person with a similar hobby is close and suggest a meeting in the next cafe/pub. Stamp collectors will love this !
slow move no rapid change
There is a slow move to more virtualisation but otherwise it is still the same like 10 years ago.
Seems like the same old ideas get armed up every couple of years - just to be served as the next new and hot cup of change... Cloud anyone?
Real change still seems to drag itself along at a much slower pace - in most organizations real IT service management for example still seems rather elusive.
On the other hand, yes, IT is getting more and more ubiquitous.
Where and how this really helps us to get things done faster or more efficiently remains yet to be seen.
Them newfangled whosawhatsits dun't change anything.
I can’t and won’t try to speak for other companies in this. How you measure change is a pretty big part of the question; this is different to each company and indeed to each individual. I can provide some anecdotal evidence based entirely upon my personally experiences with the companies (and indeed mid-sized home networks) that I manage.
In my experience the only “change” to have occurred anywhere in the SME or home network landscapes over the past tenish years have been virtualization and utility computing.
If I go back to the turn of the century most companies were running dedicated servers for everything little task and just about everyone was hosting their own e-mail servers. Here, as we venture out of the aughties and into the (what the heck to you call the “tens” of a century, anyways?) absolutely everything I see running is virtualized. Most individuals have “cloud/utility/hosted” e-mail services, (typically g-mail,) and every smaller business I know of has gone this way too. (Against my recommendations, I might add.) In addition to this, calendars/scheduling seems to have moved into “the cloud” once more in the form of Google. (I know of only two SMEs that haven’t moved “everything outlook does” over to Google’s abomination.) Everything else seems to run locally; usually several on one physical server with multiple VMs; each VM essentially a container for a given hosted app. (One for the point of sales software, one for the DC, one [industry specific chunk of software] etc.)
But has this really changed how IT is done? In my opinion it most certainly has not. E-mail/calendaring was moved into “the cloud” by smaller businesses and individuals because it was a hassle to have locally. Still, even ten years ago those folks running their own e-mail servers had web-mail available to them on those servers. The folks (like me) running their own e-mail/calendaring software currently have web-mail. The only difference is who maintains the server. (Oh, and privacy, liability and legal implications, natch.) In my personal case, I am too lazy to set up webmail; I have a virtual machine sitting on my home server that runs a copy of Windows XP. It has my personal copy of outlook, my instant messengers, IRC client and the paranoid-configured version of firefox on it. I simply RDP into it from anywhere I happen to be and can check my various mails/messengers/channels as well as read whatever articles of El Reg or Ars happen to be populating the eleventeen squillion open tabs in firefox. The only difference between this and how I was working ten years ago was that ten years ago it was a copy of server 2000 I was RDPing into, and that was on a physical system.
Virtualization has allowed us to run “more stuff’ in a smaller cooling and electrical footprint, but the same old “one server to one application” ideology persists. The only difference is that this “one server” happens to now be virtual instead of physical. The “eggs in one basket” scenario has forced SMEs to start thinking a bit about redundancy; that “one virtual server” typically has a cold spare somewhere in case the first system dies. (Yard the array out of server 1, plug it into the hot-swap bays of server 2, and fire her up.) This could be counted as change; most SMEs 10 years ago were just figuring out that RAID thing. Now at least when a server decides to implode they are usually reasonably prepared.
I guess the conclusion of this long meandering is no; at least in my experience, IT isn’t being done “differently.” There is no real change, except in the tools available. The underlying assumptions made by most practitioners and user of IT remain the same. Business priorities remain constant; no one worries about things like security, liability or redundancy until it bites them in the proverbial. All these newfangled gizmos and whosawhatsits haven’t really changed the fundamental reality of computers; they are merely tools. They are implemented where there is a business case, and any change, update, security or alteration in ease-of-use is resisted with a stubbornness that borders on an elemental force.
Same as it has been, same as it ever will be.
Anyone else notice with each "new thing" to come out (IE Windows 7), our task is simply to ensure we can keep doing the same old things, but on the new system? Why do you think companies are still on Windows XP? It is because they know WinXP can do what they've always been doing. There are some bonuses for IT Depts in the new Microsoft OS releases, such as Printer Management, but all it does is replace scripting-encumbered auto-printer-mapping with a fancy UI.
1) Make sure the applications (still) work.
2) Make sure user shares and printers are available
3) Filter/Firewall/scrub p0rn, myface, youtube, etc from the corporate network
4) Read The Reg.
Sure, there's more, but this just about covers it.
Most of the FD articles are soliciting input from readers. They then followup with a survey, and post the results. Personally, I find the survey results enlightening.
As far as I know, Freeform Dynamics isn't a consultancy. They do exactly what they set about doing very blatantly: soliciting input on "the state of IT" from experts all over the place. (El Reg, corporate IT shops, you name it.) They put the data together, run some statistics, and produce results. Where they make money is *shock, gasp* some people pay actual money to get a glimpse at the trends in IT. It may not be of value to you; it is to many others.
Be glad you get access to their work for free on El Reg. Even if it is just the summarised version. Or, you know, you can just leave. I’d rather twatdangles like you not chase away some of he better contributors to my morning newspaper.
FOAD? Ohhh... I get it
So here's how it works. We solicit opinion on some topics that are more interesting to some people than others. Some pieces are about technology, some are not. We fill the gaps and try to make sense of it all. We then feed that back.
We want to know what's going on. We often get paid to find out, and equally often, we don't. We're really, really interested in real, tangible, mainstream stuff, just as we were when we used to have real jobs doing real IT. But now we have the luxury of time to do it, and I think we're getting quite good at it.
All feedback is useful, even this. And I mean that most sincerely.
Hmmmmm Anally Boring.
Yes the next great leap forward.......
Automated phone and customer service....
You mean all I want to deal with is a real human being instead of endless fucking menus...
Or shithole Ebay style drill down menus, for hour after hour, just looking for a phone number and a normal street and postal address.
Oh verbally speak at my computer for great speech to text documenting...
Except that they didn't recognise Accents (Strain), Akksunts (New Zealand), Exxsents (Us and A), and so on.
And we the great blessed spent endless hours of time reeducating the software to our own prow-nounci-ashions.... more than doing the fucking documents.
The greatest innovation is the IBM engineered ancient "clickety" keboard - with the buckling spring method of operation.
A good computer, with all of the relevant software, not connected to the internet, not used by stupid fucks who car viruses like VD in a gang bang - through their unscanned USB sticks...
Every other great innovation - pass; I'll surface again in another 5 years; when my dirt cheap, last of the line, great innovation goes Pffffft!, and then I get the next lowest spec, last of the line, dirt cheap, great innovation....
Maybe YOU could kindly point your browser to youpr0n.com, relax a little and leave us alone ?
Thanky you very much.