I've been thinking about the way things have changed over the years. One of them is how my work space has changed. When I started in the computer business I owned shop. It was called Business MicroSystems. I owned and shared the office space with my partner, Bob Johnson.
I consider myself a systems administrator. That's a guy who makes sure the computers for the company keep running. A long time ago, (about when I started) this job was done by people in white cotes like doctors. This changed with the advent of the microcomputer. As the computer got smaller so did my desk.
For the next new years, I worked at a standard government metal desk. You know the type. You see them in old war movies. Even when I worked for the state of Oklahoma for twelve years, I worked at one of these desks.
Over the years my work space has moved from an entire business, to a room with a new desks, to an office of my own with a desk, to an office shared with another person, to an office shared with many people, to a large Cubie, to a medium Cubie and now to a tiny Cubie.
The job of a system administrator is shrinking too. I don't think it will ever vanish but it is changing. When I owned Business MicroSystems, I did everything. I wired the computers, designed and wrote the software and trained the users. Now computer companies like Dell will build the computer you want and provide a systems administrator at the end of the phone to work on your system. That's what I do today. If you don't know how to use your computer I can even use WebEx to do the work for you if it is connected to the Internet.
As the computers become bigger and faster, they will also learn to diagnose their own problems. System administrators will be needed less. And, because computer are getting cheaper it will be the applications they run, not the hardware that become impotent. Enterprise computer will become appliances. There are single use computers that are simpler to fix because the are all configured, at the system level, the same way. System administrators jobs will become more about keeping these appliances connected together and not about "building the box". Managers will order a Oracle system, an Application Server, and a few Web Servers. They will come pre-installed and configured to some degree. The System or Application Administrator will finish the configuration. Gone will be the day of installing the OS and then Oracle, WebSphere or Apache.
Back to my desktop… The next step is already here. They call it hotel-ing. You don't have a desk and chair, when you come to work you "check in" and you are assigned a cubie like a hotel room. After this the desktop go totally virtual. You will have a company laptop or tablet that only connects to the company network and only runs the company applications. Again, it is a appliance. A head set that connects to it will be your phone. You can now work anywhere you can get the required bandwidth but this to will increase. The tablet may be a data/cell phone.
Companies still will not like employees doing devil worship on company time. Because of this employees may never get to work from home. Maybe companies will partner with places already providing network services like MacDonalds, Starbucks, Panera Bread and Borders where you can go and use the company tablet. To verify you are in an acceptable area the tablet will have GPS chips can report you location or even disable your tablet, if you are not in the right place.
As the System Administrator job will become more of an on demand service, as it moves away from the company that own the systems and closer to system support services run by the companies that sold the computer. The service companies can not predict when a server will fail. So to squeeze more profit from the support centers, support jobs will move to job work. Employees will have some choices over where and when they work but customer sit on hold for too long call will be routed to employees willing to take calls in their off hours.
I'm not saying any of this is good or bad. Mostly I think it is good. I like change more the most.