Are IT pillars narrowing?

Back in the 1990’s when I got into the IT field, things were obviously different than now.  The ways in which things are different are somewhat alarming to me.  I’m talking about IT specializations such as network, server, desktop and virtualization engineers for example.  

I’m starting to see focus areas narrow to specific areas of expertise as things get more and more complex. Not too long ago if you were a server admin, chances are you worked on anything from racking and stacking the server to setting up ports on the switch to allocating storage and installing the OS.

Not so much these days. We have facilities engineers who rack the server and run the cables. We have a network team split into multiple sub teams based on function who get the network portion done. Then we have a SAN team who provisions the storage. Finally your server admin does the install and patches.

To some degree this is a good thing.  There are increasingly more and more complex technologies that require a higher level of training and knowledge to effectively configure and support.  It makes me somewhat nervous if I’m going to be required to limit my expertise to just a small focus area.  

What happens when a paradigm shift occurs in the tech world?  Take Novell Netware for example.  It used to be almost a given that most companies used it for file and print.  Some of you reading this article today may not even know what Netware is.  If I were a Netware admin I’d be kinda screwed right about now wouldn’t I?

Maybe I’m just being paranoid but maybe not?  I personally have branched out into a number of fields including OS support, virtualization, storage and networking.  I enjoy all these technologies and it makes me somewhat more valuable because I can now integrate these technologies better than someone who focuses on only 1 pillar.  Even though I do it at the expense of not being as “deep” in any particular field, I’m okay with this because it let’s me explore more and be better prepared for that big paradigm shift that’s out there somewhere.

What are your thoughts on this?  I’d love to hear your point of view!


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