Introducing the Social Challenge to the IT Crowd

Automation in IT is about the last part on the IT landscape not under constant renewal – and this will come to an end soon.

It is about time technology becomes part of the change process…

IT has gained tremendous influence in everyday life and “we” – the IT crowd – are proud of “our” technology changing the world. But to put it out bluntly, IT itself has not changed that much and it is about time to pick up the pace.

Sure marketing has improved very much but most good concepts in IT have a very long life (e.g. virtual machines). On the other hand many IT trends are focused on an oscillating movement between polar architectural concepts e.g. host vs. PC vs. Client Server vs. Web vs. Web Services, vs. Web 2.0 and so on. Still the way the technical community handles IT did not change much. You may say that there have been a lot of changes all the while and that is certainly true. But these changes were mostly focused on development and creating cool interfaces. How about the concepts, techniques and social patterns applying to the operational environment? How about those of us who keep “IT” running? Not much change detected here….

Either we change or we are changed (away?)…

Do you know anyone (not from an IT profession) who is really happy with the way the IT around him works? Do you know people who believe their system administrator to be the greatest guy since Frank Sinatra? No, or why else would we need “Sysadmin appreciation day”? It seems that the people in and around IT operation are simply detached from the rest of the world. As IT becomes an integral part of “the rest of the world” just this world will not accept to depend on totally alienated concepts and people.

In IT it is still en vogue to be “god” of the system. Would anyone in any other industry accept the fact that the guy who runs the assembly line claims to be “god” of the place? No way and if there were such a guy – well in a positive environment he would be set up for counseling and in a bald world he would simply be sacked. So let´s face it, IT has worked its way into everyday life and cannot be alien anymore. Change is in the air. And if user complaints cannot do the job, controllers certainly will. Cost cutting initiatives have reduced IT operating budgets drastically. Still, just maintaining the status quo swallows up roughly 70% of all available IT budgets.

On the other hand, the guys I am just writing about are being bored to tears with everyday work and keep their sanity by building fancy tools just for themselves. Still for that rare occasion, when sh*t really hits the fan we are all happy these people are around, people who really know their way and understand the system. What an incredible squandering of talent, creativity and know how….

… a glimpse at the future

So finally we have arrived at a point where the way things are handled will be changed. IT operation no longer is a question of finding a cool new tool to sit in front of, but it is a question of having IT maintenance controlled by tools and processes – just like the work of so many other productive and creative people is controlled by machine driven processes.

In all other industries this is called automation and it is catching up with us. So if we want to be the gurus, we have to be part of the change process, we have to drive it and we have to find the technologies to enable the automation of IT operation and maintenance – after we are content with the fact that change is a good (and unavoidable) development.


  1. Hi Chris, in the middle sector, when were writing about god’s in other industries, I heard background voices singing “doctor doctor”. I’m sure, that the healthcare ‘industry’ with their ‘head of band’, the doctors is facing similiar problem, but only few people dare to compare the human body with a computer. I’ll come back to this point later.

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