If you started in this profession in the late 1990s as I did, you might tell yourself, "I'm going to be that on-site expert that will always be in need." You might actually make it through to retirement with a few PowerShell classes, some automation experience, and a few sessions at a conference about System Center.
But if you're looking for any longevity in your IT career, you need to move past that kind of minimal coping. The shift to a full cloud-based infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) or platform-as-a-service (PaaS) model is imminent. Yes, in the next five years there'll be hybrid and convergence solutions teed up across the board to provide a transition from on-premises to cloud, but ultimately there'll be little on-premise IT left for admins.
I recently asked a room of IT pros how many of them had worked with on-premises virtualization for their servers. They all raised their hands proudly, as if they were "modern" and not living in the last decade. Then I asked how many have used a cloud-based service like Azure for testing or production servers. Only two out of 30 people raised their hands. That shows the risk most IT admins face today, whether they know it or not. For IT, 2000 to 2010 was about virtualization, but that's done. It's no longer modern, simply the new legacy. The current decade may be focused on convergence and hybrid models. After that, it's all cloud from what I can see.
To avoid irrelevance, you must change and grow. You can dig your heels in and cling to the past, as I have done often enough, but that will not help you once cloud-based tools overcome the increasingly addressed concerns over security, availability, performance, and flexibility.
You won't be the first to make such an adjustment. Thomas Edison, who invented the earliest system for electricity distribution in 1880, initially used direct current (DC). He didn't want to adopt alternating current (AC), though it could use higher voltages with transformers to step it down for distribution to homes and businesses. Competitors like Westinghouse were all about AC, but Edison doubled down and waged a propaganda war against the technology, trying to ban AC -- even electrocuting animals publicly to demonstrate the danger of AC. Ultimately, as we know, he failed, and AC current became our norm.
Once you see technology going in a direction that's unstoppable, don't get in the way or try to stem the tide. Instead, get on board. The cloud train is here.
This story, "There's no future in on-premises IT -- it's time to move to the cloud," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of J. Peter Bruzzese's Enterprise Windows blog and follow the latest developments in Windows at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.