The Emergence Of The Full-Stack Engineer

The digital transformation requires IT teams have skills that span traditional enterprise IT silos.

Nick Lippis

October 11, 2016

3 Min Read
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The digital economy is reshaping big business and the future roles of IT operational teams and IT organizational design. As in previous transitions, some executives embrace the change while others ignore it. Those who understand its potential for imparting positive transformations are using digital transformation to create new markets and compete with long established businesses, but the journey is through confused and choppy waters.

Not to be overlooked are the multiple, new challenges acting upon day-to-day business within large enterprises. For example, software-defined infrastructure and open source software are the tools of the digital transformation age, but there are significant obstacles for established companies to fully embrace the open IT framework approach to IT. In addition, as IT transitions to a software-defined world, most large IT organizations find that they aren’t organized, nor do they have the skill sets and culture to take advantage of this technology cycle. 

For the past several decades, IT staff have been organized around the IT industry’s old structure, placing operational teams in silos of networking, computing, storage, and application development. The new software-defined world requires teams with multiple skill sets that represent a cross-section of the silos, called full-stack engineers.

In addition, software engineers and DevOps teams are in high demand to re-architect existing applications, write new applications that exploit the cloud, and program their software-defined infrastructure for automation all in an effort to compete with other digitally transformed companies.

Additionally, today there is a shortage of skilled IT labor. Many large traditional enterprises struggle to hire and manage a distributed or remote telecommuting workforce, which their digital transformed competitor startups have been successful in doing. But even if the large enterprises retool their IT operations with new required skills, the process of reengineering existing business models and processes will be as disruptive as they have ever seen, and will require creative strategies to adopt and adapt in the journey to the digital transformation promise land. 

Take action

Now is the time to re-examine traditional IT organizational structures and move toward a cloud-oriented, DevOps-based IT model. This transformation will take time, may be challenging, and will clearly impact the way networks are built and managed. Recommendations for IT leaders include:

  • Develop your talent internally by creating cross-functional teams.

  • Be flexible; processes and applications are likely to change as you gain experience.

  • Leverage IT business leader-run organizations such as ONUG and other standards initiatives to help you choose from the plethora of networking standards.

The time is right for SDN to bring together vendors, large buyers, and new governance models to provide an open network software framework to drive the industry forward. The speakers at ONUG Fall, including Dr. Jennifer Rexford of Princeton University's Computer Science Department, will introduce a blueprint for the software-defined IT industry to ensure its possibility.

ONUG Fall 2016 takes place in New York Oct. 24 - 25 and is hosted by FedEx. ONUG is a community of IT executives focused on enabling greater choice and options for IT business leaders by advocating open interoperable hardware and software-defined infrastructure solutions that span across the entire IT stack, all in an effort to create business value. The ONUG Board is composed of IT leaders from Bank of America, BNY Mellon, Cigna, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, FedEx, Fidelity Investments, Gap Inc., GE, Intuit, JPMorgan Chase, the Lippis Report, Morgan Stanley, Pfizer, UBS, and Yahoo.

About the Author(s)

Nick Lippis

Co-Founder and Co-Chairman of ONUGNick Lippis is an authority on corporate computer networking. He has designed for the largest computer networks in the world. He has advised many Global 2000 firms on network strategy, architecture, equipment, services and implementation including Hughes Aerospace, Barclays Bank, Kaiser Permanente, Eastman Kodak Company, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Liberty Mutual, Schering-Plough, Sprint, WorldCom, Cisco Systems, Nortel Networks, and a wide range of other equipment suppliers and service providers. Mr. Lippis is uniquely positioned to comment, analyze and observe computer networking industry trends and developments. At Lippis Enterprises, Inc., Nick works with entrepreneurs evaluating new business opportunities in enterprise networking and serves as an independent investor and advisor.

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