canary-in-coal-mineLast week I was lucky enough to speak at The IT Summit in Denver, CO – an executive technology conference designed to address the real-world IT opportunities and challenges. I decided to take this opportunity to talk about how IT is dying. Think about it, when is the last time your company purchased a server? Or chose an on-prem system over a hosted solution? IT isn’t just transitioning, it’s disappearing.

Companies are moving away from products that require heavy IT. For example, Office 365 has an estimated 80 million users and Microsoft’s cloud revenue grew by over 100% in 2014. The slow death IT has been happening for years but it hasn’t really become evident until recently. Just look at the warning signs…

Infrastructure Transformation

Companies used to have on-prem servers but those were replaced by data centers. After data centers came containers where everything is virtualized. Now we are seeing a move away from operating systems and databases as a whole (i.e. Google app engine).


Because everything (software, data storage, etc.) is becoming web-based, the amount of IT support needed compared to the numbers of users is decreasing.

Service Maturity

There are a lot of systems that are much more mature compared to industry needs. For example, Salesforce. There are more features than you can use really. It is also an across-industry tool. Everyone from energy efficiency companies to software firms can use it, which means a lot less people having to do things manually.


According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the staffing rate for System Administrators (and related roles) is between .3% and 3% which is lower than the national average. Part of this could be due to the fact that more and more IT operations are being performed by developers via web-based solutions. In 2014, 70% of IT resources were devoted to infrastructure. That number will drop to 35% by the year 2020, according to Gartner.

Disposable Desktops

More and more companies are switching to devices like Chromebooks and away from the standard desktop. The price of these ‘disposal desktops’ is decreasing, there is less man-power to service these machines because, if they break, you can just buy a new one. This new generation of businesses don’t believe in operating systems at all – they just let Google, Microsoft, & other cloud services to do the IT “heavy lifting”.

Now that you know the warning signs, what can you do to ensure survival? Move with the trends, but proceed with caution. Make the transition gradual and keep in mind that there is no “undo” button in ops. Once a database is gone, it’s gone forever.


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