Is Coding The Key To IT Survival? - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Interop
Commentary
12/20/2013
12:00 AM
Connect Directly
LinkedIn
Google+
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Is Coding The Key To IT Survival?

Automation will eliminate IT jobs, so cultivate coding skills if you want to thrive, argues one observer.

It’s time for IT to address the need to acquire developer and programming skills. That’s a position advocated by Steve Shah, the senior director of product management and product marketing for cloud networking at Citrix.

Automation has eliminated jobs in manufacturing and other industries. Now automation is on the rise in IT industry as well, and IT professionals that aren’t skilled in coding will find themselves in a difficult position, said Shah.

“We think of the automation transformation as happening in another industry: The IT folks have been the automaters,” said Shah in an interview. “But this is a drastic change because IT is in the process of getting automated. If you aren't programming, you’ll find yourself struggling in five years.”

“We need to advocate for development skills in our own industry. We look at code as a STEM topic for our kids, but what about our own professionals?”

Shah isn’t saying that everyone should become an application developer. Instead, IT pros from network engineers to systems administrators should be proficient in systems programming—that is, be able to stitch together disparate systems with scripting tools—and have a strong grasp on APIs.

“Become a competent scripter that can put together a meaningfully sized program -- a few hundred to a thousand lines of code,” said Shah. “This isn’t a quick PowerShell hack. You’re writing objects, you’re thinking about usability.”

As for APIs, Shah noted that we’re living in an API-driven world. “This is different from traditional procedural programming. We learned, growing up, that all our libraries and tool chains lived locally and we could call them up. Now you can build rich apps that use a half dozen utilities that don’t live on your system.”

While this allows for a great deal of flexibility, it also presents challenges. “You’re dealing with a series of interconnected elements where every individual step has a large subsystem underneath you,” he said. “If you fail somewhere in the middle, your ability to recover is significantly challenged. Every step has to be assured and verified before you move on. An applications programmer doesn’t live with those restrictions—if they crash mid-way through, someone will reset it and run it again.”

So where to start? The first step is to accept that this change is happening. “I see a lot of resistance around the steps toward automation,” said Shah. “People say it will never happen, or you can’t automate my job. Get over the reluctance.”

Second, develop strong scripting skills before moving to a language such as Java. “If you can script confidently, then you can expand,” he said. While formal training is useful, practical self-education in your own environment is a must because every company has its own idiosyncrasies.

Third, you should start now. “A person who jumps into this today will be in front of the curve,” said Shah.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Wombat Hunter
50%
50%
Wombat Hunter,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/30/2014 | 8:26:10 PM
Re: Very thought-provoking
There's no question IT is moving this way. Automation and scripting are not nice-to-haves anymore, they're absolute necessities.
JennSiotco
50%
50%
JennSiotco,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/3/2014 | 2:54:31 PM
Very thought-provoking
Interesting idea, and seems logical. Denial is often the first reaction to the idea of change on the horizon. I'm interested to know if anyone has an opposing opinion, or if this is, indeed, the direction the future of IT is heading. Anyone with real-life experience to support or rebut this?
State of the Cloud
State of the Cloud
Cloud has drastically changed how IT organizations consume and deploy services in the digital age. This research report will delve into public, private and hybrid cloud adoption trends, with a special focus on infrastructure as a service and its role in the enterprise. Find out the challenges organizations are experiencing, and the technologies and strategies they are using to manage and mitigate those challenges today.
Commentary
Learning: It's a Give and Take Thing
James M. Connolly, Editorial Director, InformationWeek and Network Computing,  1/24/2020
Slideshows
IT Careers: Top 10 US Cities for Tech Jobs
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  1/14/2020
Commentary
Predictions for Cloud Computing in 2020
James Kobielus, Research Director, Futurum,  1/9/2020
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
The Cloud Gets Ready for the 20's
This IT Trend Report explores how cloud computing is being shaped for the next phase in its maturation. It will help enterprise IT decision makers and business leaders understand some of the key trends reflected emerging cloud concepts and technologies, and in enterprise cloud usage patterns. Get it today!
White Papers
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Sponsored Video
Flash Poll