The Job Market for IT Architects

2009 has been a crazy year for most of us in the industry.     Many are looking or found new jobs as annual reviews became survivalist experiences as working in fear became the new norm.

Of course,  if you have a job, you want work to keep it in 2010. (and network like crazy to help you get the next one)

But as these experiences have  been incredibly difficult,  they have also awakened many in the IT community.

I have seen multiple architectural leaders redefining their career experience for better lifestyle and often more money.

  • more IT architects starting their own businesses
  • more IT architects having multi-client contracts
  • more IT architects working from home, limiting travel to only when necessary

Of course, contracting had a difficult time as well in 2009.

Yet,  with the downturn, many companies over-corrected staffing adjustments and will need architectural professionals quickly for 2010.  

I predict that many of these companies will use program mgrs to contract out the architectural work.     While there are many of us in the community that think this is a bad idea and it is good to have IT architectural leaders have a financial stake in the business,  the reality is businesses are striping full time employee liabilities as much as humanly possible (from attorneys, finance professionals, BI Analysts and IT architects).

The good side.   With good negotiation,  IT Architects could make more money if he or she manages their business well.      

What does that mean?    it means that IT Architects should expand their value and capabilities beyond being a technical brain on stick for hire.    You have to market, advertise,  manage your money well. track forward customer satisfaction progress with precision,   and work to have multiple projects and clients.     This is by no means easy.    But IT architects who have made the switch successfully  enjoy some of the highest satisfaction rates.

But let me reiterate:  if you already have a job, please work to keep it in 2010 (unless it  is awful).


Chasing the Cloud in 2010

There was an interesting article by  called Microsoft Must Sell the Cloud to IT Pros in 2010 by John Fontana, Network World.

While John exposed a good theme,  I believe we need to be a bit more explicit about ITPro expectations and challenges for the cloud.

I remember how much of struggle it was 6 years ago to convince a businesses to trust secure communication over https(443) for internal business activity.   Most application service providers had to demonstrate robust VPN capabilities.    As everyone now knows,  things changed.  Organizations are now trusting more mission critical activity over https through internal or external cloud providers.

I always like to promote leaders forecasting the impact of technology decisions.  So lets look at the typical enterprise cloud situation.

There was an earlier article in Computerworld promoting the differences between private, public and hybrid clouds.       For the enterprise,  I predict in 2010,  that many cloud solutions will be complex array of Hybrid models.

What does the Cloud hold out for Infrastructure architects for 2010 in the enterprise?    

Losing more control of the infrastructure

More business groups will make infrastructure cloud deals at different times, with different vendors with little or no SLAs/OLAs without you.

More liability to manage the increased complexity

with more agreements, come more complexity and interdependencies.      If you thought you had complex interdependencies in the datacenters from all the past acquisitions and leadership changes,  then get ready for the new tidal wave of complex cloud interdependences and complexity.   

if you look at cloud providers, they often have

  • different patch schedules
  • different deployment models
  • different root cause analysis and monitoring technologies
  • different integration technologies
  • different back-up technologies

Welcome to the real cloud infrastructure jungle.

This is why there needs to be a resurgence of infrastructure professionals for enterprise architect teams.     Of course I’m biasd, but instead of hiring many with backgrounds in solution architecture and having them fight with app team after app team,  organizations need more with strong  infrastructure backgrounds that can help the enterprise bring cloud capabilities without turning the datacenter into quagmire.

In short,  I predict that as cloud service providers make it easy for developers in 2010,  infrastructure leaders will eventually loose their minds.


The changing face of Green IT

As many of you know, I started the first Green IT evangelism for Microsoft to focus on listening to customers  and promote best practices for IT architecture to reduce carbon impact and energy consumption.   Of course,  things change, (teams get impacted) and I’m doing something very different.

2009 was a year of green washing.   I believe more money was spent on marketing and advertising green than actually promoting new technologies, best practices and capabilities to improve it.     My past prediction about virtualization becoming mainstream (easy one) was true.   But also, the trend of virtual server sprawl and the cry for managing virtual server sprawl and tracking down rouge virtual images.   

I thought there would be a lot more guidance for the developer to reduce energy consumption on the server or client.   Unfortunately, I was wrong.    There was a couple of small articles and presentations,  but no real substantial developer guidance.  

In most places around the world,  dramatic energy price increases are tapering down.    Energy cost is still has a substantial impact on IT budgets,   But at least the velocity of price increases are reducing.       

Yet, that doesn’t mean energy is no longer growing in importance.   Quite the opposite is true.     As prices are stabilizing,  energy and carbon regulations and integrated partnerships between IT and energy will dramatically increase over the next 2 years.   This means large enterprises will need to develop keen energy strategies for their IT objectives and monitor energy prices & regulations as well as environmental regulations and participate to impact policy makers around the world.