Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

I was recently in an online discussion about whether or not technologists should use “managed services” like the one I work for.

One gent essentially claimed that the move towards cloud and managed services represented an end game for our industry, and that we’d automate ourselves out of a job. This is what I said:

Will there be job reductions and resultant economic pain as a result of the move away from the data center and towards more cloud/managed services? Hell yes there will be!

Those who want to work in this business will find ways to adapt and continue to add value.

I’ve been working in technology for about 32 years. This doesn’t make me magical or omniscient or even smart but what it does make me is a witness to several waves of seismic change.

I came into the job market in the early 90s when DEC was imploding, PCs were ascendant, and the large expensive workstations vendors were dead companies walking but didn’t realize it yet.

Everyone thought the world would end and we’d all be out of work too.

Will it be hard? Yes. Will there be a lot of people who can’t or don’t want to adapt and will be left behind? Undoubtedly. Is that bad? Yes. However it’s the way our industry works and has since its inception.

We are all turning the crank that drives the flywheel of increased automation, whether we administer our own database clusters or not. The move to managed and cloud definitely represents a notable pinch point, and we’ll see how painful the transition will be, but it’s one paradigm shift in an industry that creates paradigm shifts for a living.

I’ve actually thought for a while that in the longer term, as compute at scale becomes quite a bit smaller and even cheaper, we could see a move back away from cloud because when you can host your company’s compute cluster in a cube the size of a printer and we have algorithms that can encode and enact services at scale in an operationally safe way, the value cloud adds will dwindle.

I love my job, and I love this industry, and plan to continue playing in this pool until I die, whether someone’s willing to pay me for it or not.

I assert that the constant negativity many of us exhibit is neither necessary nor desirable and represents a kind of immaturity that we will eventually grow out of as our industry continues to mainstream.

We’ll see.

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