Automation: Good for business, bad for jobs

Data centre

In sunny Las Vegas this week, HP has been hosting its global partner conference. It marks the first time the company has brought all its partners from across the world together as HP looks to continue its comeback from the chaos of 2011.

The one announcement that stood out was the introduction of the ProLiant Gen8 Servers. As more of the features were spelled out to the gathered throngs, techies began twitching in their seats in excitement. Amongst the titillating additions were GPS to show you where a troublesome server is in the data centre, improved Sea of Sensors technology to tell you the best place for a new server to be installed and even smart socket technology to automate putting in a processor without bending any of the pins.

If you are working as an IT admin, make sure you get new skills and make yourself indispensable.

Automation is the buzz word amongst datacentre providers right now. The more manual processes you can remove, the less room for human error and the higher the likelihood of lower unplanned downtime.

This all sounds great to me, but it is the other argument vendors use when selling it to IT pros that doesn't sit right with me.

HP's Mark Potter claimed in a press conference the lessening of manual processes would allow more time for IT admins to spend on innovation, coming up with great ways to run their IT department, rather than keeping the lights on.

He isn't the first. I have heard what seems like hundreds of executives say the same thing about automation, but it is just not the case.

No matter what George Osborne comes out with next, we are still in very tough economic times. I saw more people get made redundant in 2011 than I did back in 2009 and many businesses are struggling to keep it together.

The fact is, if you have IT admins who spend their time keeping manual processes ticking over and they can be replaced by a one off payment to a technology company, you could save a lot of cash by getting rid of that employee.

It may sound harsh, but it is true. You are not going to ask them to start gazing into the future for more weird, wonderful and most likely costly ways of doing IT in the datacentre, you will give them their pink slip and write the cheque to the vendor.

If cash was readily available, then yes, maybe you wouldn't be worrying so much about making pension payments or covering holiday pay for your employee, but in an environment when the real buzzword is cuts' businesses will replace man with machine.

Yes, it will make HP and its rivals cash but, if you are working as an IT admin, make sure you get new skills and make yourself indispensable to the IT department. Don't fall victim to the misleading tales of innovation at the end of the rainbow, protect your job.

Jennifer Scott

Jennifer Scott is a former freelance journalist and currently political reporter for Sky News. She has a varied writing history, having started her career at Dennis Publishing, working in various roles across its business technology titles, including ITPro. Jennifer has specialised in a number of areas over the years and has produced a wealth of content for ITPro, focusing largely on data storage, networking, cloud computing, and telecommunications.

Most recently Jennifer has turned her skills to the political sphere and broadcast journalism, where she has worked for the BBC as a political reporter, before moving to Sky News.