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IT Leadership
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No More IT Islands

IT professionals no longer fit into the buckets of specialization that marketers and HR staffers love.

What can the modern IT professional learn from the words of a 17th century poet like John Donne? At least a little bit. Donne wrote, "No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main…"

His was a global view: The loss of one person was a loss for everyone, we rely upon and learn from everyone we encounter. There's no such thing as isolation.

In my 30-plus years of covering the IT sector, I've learned that one of the biggest mistakes we can make is to look at technologies, job functions, and components of an application, business process, or network in isolation. I get it; it's human nature to plug people and concepts into neat buckets. We have "IT" and we have "users," "hardware," "software," "operations," "developers," and "security."

Yes, those specialized buckets are great for tech marketers in their targeting and perfect for human resources staffers who insist on labels for everyone in their org charts. Then there are the IT pros themselves, who might on occasion deflect a request with a not-my-job response by saying, "Sorry, I'm in software, that's networking."

Image: Shutterstock
Image: Shutterstock

In reality, IT always has been an amalgam of overlapping specialties ever since the early days when Admiral Grace Hopper reportedly coined the term "bug," bridging the realms of developers and operations people. More than ever before, every IT specialist -- even the so-called users in the business units -- requires a technology skillset extending far beyond what their job title might indicate.

I had some fun the other day, going through -- probably for the 200th time -- the agenda crafted by my associates at InformationWeek and Interop, as we prepare for Interop ITX, April 30 to May 4.

True, that agenda is arranged in seven buckets or tracks. But I was able to see just how some of today's core technology concepts overlap, and it made me think how a team of IT specialists at Interop might want to be in several places, attending a range of sessions at the same time. Or, if you're an individual attending alone, you can get exposure to a range of concepts by exploring the agenda items that fall outside your core area of interest.

Confused yet? Take a look at just one of the tracks, DevOps, and see how it might appeal to someone carrying a non-DevOps title, and consider how the DevOps pro might venture into related tracks.

Take the example of a session presented by Rosalind Radcliffe of IBM, returning after delivering one of the more popular talks of Interop ITX 2017. DevOps Today: What Does It Mean to You? reaches into areas such as Leadership and Data Analytics. After all, a key reason to implement DevOps is to enable digital transformation -- perhaps the hottest buzzword in leadership circles -- and relies on the same type of metrics that data scientists are building out daily.

Rob Whitely of NGINX will present The Role of DevOps in Application Security, a natural fit for those focused on the Security track.

LinkedIn's Michael Kehoe offers The Next Wave of Reliability Engineering, which touches on the same interests being served up in the Infrastructure track.

Then, Mandy and Patrick Hubbard will present The Impassable Last Mile of Continuous Delivery. That last mile is about putting DevOps to work for the organization. The themes of the Cloud track and Infrastructure track are integral to that effort, which advances the digital transformation goals of the Leadership team.

When you go to Interop ITX -- it's not too late to register -- we've given you the freedom to choose. You're welcome to stick with one specific track or meander through the seven different tracks as you need. Finally, if you want additional guidance, you can select a Conference Journey, designed for your main area of interest when scheduling your days on the agenda pages. Have a fun and informative trip.


Jim Connolly is a versatile and experienced technology journalist who has reported on IT trends for more than two decades. As editorial director of InformationWeek and Network Computing, he oversees the day-to-day planning and editing on the site. Most recently he was editor ... View Full Bio
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