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Sysadmin and IT ops jobs to slump, says IDC

Brush up on your coding – more tech jobs are going to be hybrids that mix ops and software, or require AI skills

System administrators and IT operations pros might want to rethink their careers, because analyst firm IDC is predicting substantial drops in the number of people employed in such roles.

The firm this week published its first "Worldwide xOps Census and Forecast" – a study that predicts "a substantial shift in the responsibilities of IT professionals will occur over the next five years."

"IT professionals in the most purely operational roles are facing a transition to a more technical or focused role that very often may involve some level of software development work," the firm asserts.

As a result, IT operations roles will shrink at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of -8.2 percent between 2022 and 2027. Sysadmin gigs will go backwards by a CAGR of 7.8 percent over the same period.

The good news is IDC sees very strong growth in other roles, predicting DataOps jobs will grow at 17.9 percent and MLOps gigs will accelerate by 20.1 percent.

IDC defines DataOps roles as using "a combination of technologies and methods with a focus on quality for consistent and continuous delivery of data value, combining integrated and process-oriented perspectives on data with automation and methods analogous to agile software engineering."

MLOps gigs "streamline and automate the entire machine learning (ML) life cycle" and involve "managing and automating ML data and pipelines, ML code, and ML models from data ingestion to model deployment, tracking, and monitoring." Practitioners of this dark art will employ "principles of DevOps practices, applied to machine learning processes."

IDC's group veep for software development and open source, Al Gillen, blamed the shifts described above on the cloud.

"The census data shows that a dramatic, once-in-a-generation shift in the composition of the IT workforce is underway," he said, describing the changing world of work as "akin to what took place during the years from 1997 to 2002 when the emergence of the commercial internet and the .com era turned priorities upside down for much of corporate IT and led to the hiring of vast numbers of web developers and networking experts."

"The increased adoption of cloud computing is driving similar transitions today in IT teams supporting this modern deployment model," he added.

As a result, more tech workers find themselves in what IDC described as "hybrid roles that combine traditional development activities with activities that formerly were associated with operations professionals who historically had few or no development-oriented responsibilities."

So freshen up your coding chops, sysadmins. Your job may depend on it. ®

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