Hiring Data Center Professionals: Three Major Considerations10 min read

by | Oct 21, 2015 | Blog

There have been some big shifts happening in the world of cloud, the data center, and the personnel that support it all. First of all – there is now a direct tie between the business and the capabilities of IT. There is no longer a silo where IT is removed from the business process. In fact, an organization’s competitive advantage can very much revolve around what technologies your data center can deliver. Business around infrastructure and cloud is only continuing to pick up the pace. And, there are some very real numbers to back this up. Consider this – global spending on IaaS is expected to reach almost US$16.5 billion in 2015, an increase of 32.8 percent from 2014, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2014 to 2019 forecast at 29.1 percent, according to Gartner’s latest forecast.

The folks spending this kind of money on their next-generation data center are also the ones looking to higher intelligent team members who can support it.

According to the latest State of the Data Center Report, which I had the honor of co-authoring, managers have had challenges filling the following top three roles:

  1. Data Center Facility Technicians, Engineers, and Operators: 42%
  2. IT Systems and/or Applications Personnel: 20%
  3. Network and Telecommunications Personnel: 19%

Furthermore, 69% of respondents indicated that they’ve had to increase investment in data center IT and facility personnel within the past 3 years. And, 71% said that they will have to increase investment in data center IT and facilities professionals over the next 3 years. So, what are the driving factors for these types of increases?

  • 53% indicated that there is increased demand for onsite coverage.
  • 38% said that retention costs for existing staff has increased.
  • 33% said that increased training and certification requirements drove up costs.

That said – what should data center managers be looking for? What are some of the most desired skill sets and traits out there? Let’s look at a few points when hiring a data center professional:

  • Capabilities around communication. We are long past the days of quiet engineers toiling away behind a server rack. Today’s data center professional is very much a part of the IT and business process. Any small issue within the data center must be communicated as it could directly impact critical systems and productivity. Engineers, architects, and managers must all be able to convey ideas as well as challenges to help the data center stay proactive and healthy. Engineers working on power, cooling, networking, and beyond have the direct ability to enhance their business as well as their data center operations. Data center professionals need to have good communication skills which span IT teams and the organization. Those engineers which can detail value around parts of their infrastructure to various business leaders are the ones who have a voice and say in the direction of their data center.
  • Diverse IT skillset. This isn’t a call to make everyone a generalist. However, engineers and data center professionals must understand the workings around their entire ecosystem. What does your cooling support? Does the networking engineer understand power requirements within the rack? Can data center engineers define the critical business applications that they’re supporting? A diverse skill set allows data center professionals to better impact their infrastructure as well as business goals. Not only are you understanding the workings of a next-generation data center; you’re also making yourself that much more valuable to the organization. There is a big initiative to remove silos within IT people and to create intelligent working groups of data center professionals. In hiring IT pros – make sure they can understand more of your ecosystem, how it aligns with your business, and how their work impacts a number of components within the data center.
  • Helping align the business. Data center professionals drive business. It’s as simple as that. Modern engineers and IT personnel directly align to the capabilities of the organization. Remember, to out-compute means to out-compete. If an engineer sees a way they can improve the performance of an application by re-aligning power/cooling requirements into a rack – they should be vocal about it and help make it happen. This helps the business become extremely agile as all organizational units become drivers for growth. Data center professionals must understand just how critical they are to the business. Similarly, your business leaders must see how valuable IT is to their entire organization. The pace of technological evolution directly impacts the market we’re in, growth factors, and how business create competitive solutions. Those organization which align their IT with their business strategies are able to respond to market variances much more effectively.

In creating your own data center ecosystem, make sure to work with IT professionals which align with your team and the overall business. Too often, skillsets misalign with the goals of the organization and IT can become a hindrance rather than a direct enabler. You don’t want your data center and staff to just “work.” You want them to evolve and help the organization evolve in the marketplace as well. This starts with great people, inspiring managers, and executives who can help align their business vision with the capabilities of IT.


Download Upsite’s latest white paper to learn how IT and Facilities management can work together to optimize the data center environment.

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Bill Kleyman

Bill Kleyman

CTO, MTM Technologies


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