The 9 most endangered species in IT

The IT job landscape is evolving quickly. Here's how to avoid IT extinction

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When Oracle bought Sun in 2010, it de-emphasized Sun hardware and let Unix support dwindle, says Howard, while failing to keep up with the increased capabilities and dramatically lower costs of open source alternatives.

"A Unix server costs more than $25,000 per server," says Howard. "Linux can now run most of the same applications and costs only around $3,000 per server. One company I personally worked with saved more than a billion dollars over five years by migrating off of proprietary Unix architecture onto Linux. As more folks migrate onto Linux, the Unix admin will eventually go the way of the T-Rex. They ate well during their time upon the earth, but their days are numbered."

How to avoid extinction: Build up your Linux chops in a hurry, and become an expert on which applications can migrate to Linux and which ones need to stay on Sun, says Howard. "When your org does decide to migrate, you can lead the effort instead of getting left behind."

Endangered IT species No. 8: The Purple-Tufted Programmer (Codus cobolus)Developers who cut their teeth on Cobol or Fortran are a dying breed, but they're not the only ones. IT pros who hack code -- and only hack code -- may quickly wind up on the wrong side of the evolutionary divide.

Routine programming jobs are largely being offshored or eliminated outright, notes Peirce College's Finnegan.

"If you aspire to plan to write code for a living, you'd better be prepared to do it at the level of software engineer," he says. "That means doing it for a large organization on a very large scale, with an engineer's attention to process and quality control, as well as the people skills to function in such an environment."

Even mobile developers aren't immune, notes Chris O'Connor, CEO of Taptera, a provider of enterprise-ready, social sales mobile applications.

"Apps are too cheap and too awesome these days to truly warrant having an internal mobile team building a company a proprietary app," he says. "These internal teams, who spend most of their time navel-gazing at their BlackBerrys, are being replaced by people who listen to end-users and adopt best-of-breed apps for specific enterprise problems."

How to avoid extinction: As with the Data Center Dinosaur and the Sys Admin, coders who want to survive need to expand their expertise and align their skills with the needs of the business, says StorageIO's Schulz.

"Coders and script junkies need to also be integrators of business logic, cloud tools, and more, or they'll join the ranks of mainframers who are becoming extinct," he says.

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