Traditional IT Operational Roles To Decline in 5 Years, Says IDC

IT professionals overseeing operations in organizations increasingly will need developer expertise associated with cloud services as well, according to an IDC study, announced on Monday.

That analysis comes from "xOps" data trends projected over a five-year period per IDC's "Worldwide xOps Census and Forecast, 2022–2027" study. The study apparently was compiled by polling developers, although the precise census numbers and methodology weren't characterized in IDC's announcement.

IDC is projecting a decline in pure IT roles due to a shift toward using cloud-based services, which likely will require "DevOps" types of skills. The announcement offered the following stats on how traditional IT roles may be affected over the next five years:

The data indicates that 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. Accordingly, the roles of IT operations and system administrators, respectively, are projected to decline at compound annual growth rates (CAGR) of -8.2% and -7.8% over the 2022–2027 forecast period.

IDC is projecting a five-year gain in xOps roles that are focused on data and machine learning (ML) automation work:

By comparison, the recently emerging roles of DataOps and MLOps are projected to have CAGRs of 17.9% and 20.1% respectively, although the growth is starting from comparatively small numbers.

IDC organized its findings according to "eight modern IT titles" having some traditional operational responsibilities, namely "DataOps, DevOps, DevSecOps, ITOps, MLOps, platform engineering, site reliability engineering, and systems administrator." Some of these roles overlap. For instance, IDC suggested that "DevOps growth will be muted somewhat by the growth in platform engineering roles, which will absorb some of these same functions."

IDC defined "platform engineering" as a discipline where someone designs "toolchains and workflows" for "managing and optimizing the software delivery process to deploy applications and services to cloud platforms."

The "site reliability engineering" role was defined by IDC as "software engineers who build scripts to automate IT operations tasks such as maintenance and support."

IDC's report may not seem like it's anything new, but its projections were characterized as representing a "dramatic, once-in-a-generation shift in the composition of the IT workforce," according to coauthor Al Gillen, who is group vice president for software development and open source at IDC.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.


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