Most people view Christmas week as a guaranteed time for days off. But a new survey has revealed that many IT professionals may not be able to catch a break this holiday season. Nearly half of the IT pros surveyed will be on call during the days surrounding the holiday. And it appears as though they may be even busier than usual as networks have a tendency to go down during and around Christmas, providing even more work for the professionals.
Of course, these workers -- most likely -- won't have to work on Christmas day but outside of that, many of them will be working every other day of the week despite planned holidays. In this sense, IT pros are unable to actually relax during the holidays.
Network monitoring software vendor Ipswitch conducted the survey with more than 140 participants. After compiling the data, it found that a large portion of IT professionals will be unable to expect anything more than Christmas day off.
"Even the holidays can’t provide a brief respite for many hardworking IT pros,” said Ennio Carboni, president Ipswitch's network management division. “They may be giving up downtime with friends and family to make sure your networks have uptime.”
For the people that are not officially on call, 56 percent of the IT pros still say that they will be thinking about work while they are off. Since network management is arguably one of the most difficult tech-related jobs, it makes sense that many workers find it difficult to stay away from work and separate themselves from their jobs during their holiday breaks.
“Be sure to thank your hardworking IT pro this holiday season, as they may be giving up downtime with friends and family to make sure your networks have uptime," said Carboni.
An End To Fire-Fighting
Outside of finding out how many IT pros will actually be working or thinking about work this holiday season, Ipswitch asked the pros what they would like to see change in the industry once they get back from the break. The most popular change mentioned in the survey was that the workers did not want to spend all of their time fire-fighting. For IT professionals, fire-fighting means dealing with problems once they come up instead of preventing the problems in the first place.
"It simply is not necessary for the hard working, under-appreciated people in IT to spend their time fire-fighting problems on their networks -- regardless of the time of year -- when they would rather be planning. It is evident that many these problems could be managed remotely by network monitoring technologies which could identify the exact sources of problems to prevent issues such as server crashes and poor application performance," said Ipswitch's VP of international sales, Alessandro Porro.
Posted: 2013-12-28 @ 3:21pm PT
@TrustMeImRight --- I think they are referring to REAL IT people, not general tech support and people like you :)
Posted: 2013-12-25 @ 12:27pm PT
Most "IT" jobs do not really require any skill or aptitude whatsoever. Instead they require a "warm body". Thats why they can work them so hard cause they are lucky to get a decent wage seeing as how they have no real skills. Development certainly takes skill and aptitude, but those jobs do not really exist for Americans anyway.
Posted: 2013-12-25 @ 11:57am PT
i don't even get Christmas day off.
Posted: 2013-12-25 @ 10:56am PT
There is no excuse for an environment that can't afford a holiday for IT staff. On-call in event of catastrophic failure is one thing, but if the only time you have to schedule downtime is during an annual national holiday, then your team (or your company) is too inept to build in proper redundancy and design, along with weekly maintenance windows or your managers are just a bunch of masochistic Nazis' who get off on cultivating misery.
If your environment isn't robust enough to weather a holiday, it's not ready for production either.
Posted: 2013-12-25 @ 10:09am PT
Ipswich only obtained responses from 140 people, and that's self-reported data to boot.
I used to be in IT Operations in several companies from small (100 employee) to large (300,000 employees).
Certainly if you're responsible for keeping systems up and running, and you're designated on-call, you have a working week ahead of you, instead of seven days off.
But if you're not in IT operations, let's say you're in IT development or IT planning or IT project management or any of a dozen other IT subdisciplines, you don't have to carry a pager or cell-phone and be on-call 24x7. You've got a nice holiday week ahead of you.
That said, as several other commenters here have noted, change freezes often go into effect during the holidays, which means that there are usually fewer application- or system-level incidents during this time, which itself makes for a lower-stress week even if you are on-call.
Posted: 2013-12-25 @ 9:41am PT
Left the consuming IT world 5+ years ago. DO NOT miss it.
Posted: 2013-12-25 @ 9:04am PT
Keep at it Adam .. maybe you'll figure out a few things like system management and lifespans, those that don't and get off on wiseass remarks, work the holidays !!
Posted: 2013-12-25 @ 9:01am PT
Is this supposed to be news? This is just normal practice. Operations centers are manned 24/7/365 (366 on leap years). Systems are always up (or are certainly supposed to be). Executives and other workaholics log in every day of the year, either because they're addicted or because they're afraid their absence will be noticed by their work-addicted employer. Meet the new boss - same as the old boss...
Posted: 2013-12-25 @ 8:13am PT
IT workers are the new blue-collar working class.
Posted: 2013-12-24 @ 9:37pm PT
Our IT dept is up 24/7/365. We support 16 hospitals. Hospitals do not close, so neither do we. If we're not at work, we're on call. I've had a total of 17 days off this year. That's about 1 day off every 3 weeks. I've also worked stretches of 76, 45 and 38 days in a row.
Do I love my job? Yes, otherwise I wouldn't put up with this nonsense. But still, many people don't realize how much work goes on behind the scenes to keep such a complex system up and running. Most people don't notice us when things run smoothly, they only blame us when things go wrong.
It's just the nature of the job.
Posted: 2013-12-24 @ 7:36pm PT
Forget Christmas, IT pros almost never have ANY day off. Even in those environments where you are not technically "On Call", let something go wrong and your cell will be ringing and you will be expected to support the issue, period.
The only environments that differ slightly in this regard are some government and educational IT positions where there is some shift related redundancies (congrats to you if you are blessed with one of them) or a certain amount of downtime is acceptable because the function is not considered mission critical.
A country song once said "...Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys..." and I would suggest the updated version to be "...Parents, don't let your babies grow up to be IT Pros..." :p
Posted: 2013-12-24 @ 6:04pm PT
Christmas eve at 9:00 PM and I sit at work. I'll be here tomorrow as well. I don't know who has their systems on "lock down" but I know it's not any of our customers.
Posted: 2013-12-24 @ 5:46pm PT
I operate a power plant, we work seven days a week, every day. Every time someone turns on a light, your furnace starts, your refrigerator comes on, logs on to the internet, a power plant must be online to provide power to run these devices. You can't run the servers without electric power, and power plants to run them. I'll be going to work at 10:30 PM, it's a great job, but it's nice to be with family.
Posted: 2013-12-24 @ 5:35pm PT
Yep - just like the rest of the healthcare community, cops, firefighters, etc. Everyone makes choices - all choices have "strings attached". Choose wisely.
Posted: 2013-12-24 @ 5:23pm PT
On the nose. It's 8:20 p.m. Christmas Eve and here I am at work. Being in IT and in the Healthcare industry. There are no holidays. Been in it for 35 years.
Posted: 2013-12-24 @ 5:15pm PT
From a 13-year IT "Newbie...." Many of us in fields that require constant change to keep up with the demand of consumers and our customers, have been frantically working to ensure that everything is working for them. IT Change control freezes are very limited and everyone ends up escalating to the point that we implement them anyways... I agree with 99% of what is stated above..
Posted: 2013-12-24 @ 5:08pm PT
Maybe you should learn about tech that isn't 40 years old, many of us get to work Christmas Eve and Christmas.
Posted: 2013-12-24 @ 4:10pm PT
From a 40 year IT pro - BS, 99% of productions systems are on lock down over the holidays just because of the fact that people take off!!