IT jobs: Will convergence simply end up deskilling staff?

In today's datacentre, the watchword is convergence. But convergence in all its guises has the potential to cause tension and the deskilling of staff.

Inside datacentres across the planet, various types of convergence are taking place. There's a convergence of technologies in the broadest sense, in that the three main technology areas are being virtualised: compute, networking and storage. This convergence should make switching disciplines easier, though whether it will remains to be seen.

There's also convergence in a more specific sense in that hardware is becoming commoditised — a generalisation of course but broadly true. For example, storage networks will eventually run on Ethernet, just like the rest of the datacentre.

Anything that makes management easier — less skilful, if you like — will be welcomed

And there's convergence because the plans of many vendors will result in bringing those three core disciplines under one roof from a management perspective.

For example, Windows Server 2012 majors on new automation and management capabilities. Network and storage vendors both talk of — and of course offer for sale — products that provide a single pane of glass that allows you to manage everything in the datacentre.

And we've figured out how to reduce downtime resulting from equipment failure. It's expected, so we route around it. Consequently, vendors talk of reducing management effort and human mistakes through automation. That's a powerful argument since outage as a result of hardware failure is now, generally speaking, less likely than finger trouble, as many high-profile outages attest.

The CIO certainly wants convergence since he or she wants to contain staffing costs, to comply with what the business demands: to do more with less. Whether it's a single pane of glass or some other process that reduces the need for human intervention, anything that makes management easier — less skilful, if you like — will be welcomed.

Extracting the best price for skills

Yet there's tension in the air. If you're a Microsoft Most Valued Professional, if you're a Cisco-certified engineer, if you're an EMC Proven Professional, what you want is to be able to maximise those skills . You want to be able to use them to the full, and to extract the best price for them — to enjoy them, in other words.

Even you might want a single pane of glass. It can make life easier, I'm told, but I'd be glad to hear of how that's true in the real world.

But does it mean the start of a deskilling process? If it's like most other jobs, then it probably does. Can the tide be held back? Should it?

Or is this all a storm in a teacup, and the likelihood of these increasingly complex technologies becoming operable by — shall we call them less well-trained folk? — is slim?

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