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One of the key benefits of hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) is simplicity. It can, when deployed properly, can reduce the number of administrators needed to manage a datacenter. Likely, the remaining admins are generalists, who specialize in system administration and virtual server administrators.
So where will all the network admins and storage admins go?
HCI poses some very difficult questions for many customers. On the one hand, IT departments are being asked to do more with less. Technologies like HCI and ultimately composable infrastructure will reduce the number of admins necessary to run a datacenter. But at the same time, will those admins hold up the evolution towards next generation datacenter technologies because of job security?
Earlier in the subscription series, we discussed how many customers are engaging in cloud repatriation, or the return of control, data, and applications from cloud instances to on-premises instances. That may retain some staff. However, Neuralytix research is also hearing anecdotes such as a midsize enterprise that has a 700-node cluster, being administered by a single administrator! Furthermore, anecdotes such as these are becoming more common.
In these situations, what are enterprises to do? Conversely, what can admins do to save their jobs. The simple answer is a difficult one. Admins must evolve just like the datacenter is evolving. They need to retrain and get more into DevOps or analytics.
Neuralytix expects IT organizations to reduce in size, and flatten for the next three to five years. Economic drivers will ultimately determine how long these reductions will take place, and when the growth of enterprises will drive them to add new hires back into the IT organizations.
Luckily, as IT organizations reduce the number of administrators, large “-as-a-Service” providers, including the hyperscalers (e.g. Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, Rackspace, etc.) are constantly looking for new talent to add to their datacenters.
Vendors need to be aware of this. Salespeople, while selling their HCI solutions need to empathize with IT leaders, and administrators.
In speaking with a leading HCI vendor, they joked that they will provide a FTE-equivalent administrator with the sale of every cluster, helping the customer to eliminate existing administrators, and saving them tremendous amounts of money. While this was said in jest, there is a lot of truth in the offering.
One way that vendors can help protect the jobs of administrators, and gain a bigger sale, is to put together longer term implementation plans. These plans would include migration, maintenance, and the expansion of the cluster to include new ideas and technologies such as Big Data, analytics, IoT, etc.
Neuralytix guidance is somewhat vague here as the approach will be different with every customer. One thing that our advice will extend to, is help salespeople understand what they’re selling. It’s not just a technology solution, it has impact on the lives of those to whom they are selling their solution.