A few data center trends seem to be colliding.
As my colleague Arthur Cole has written, even if companies are ready to jump into the cloud, more than likely their IT staffs are not trained to do so. He wrote:
Eight Trends Driving the Future of Information Technology
A new report predicts dramatic changes to the face of enterprise computing.
Just as the data center itself is making the transition from pre-virtualization to hybrid/public clouds, IT staff needs to be brought along as well. Expertise in self-service provisioning (which, by the way, does not mean techs sit idly by while workers cobble together their own resources), automation/orchestration, and a host of related tasks like ITIL workflow/ticketing, monitoring and reporting, will be highly beneficial as the new paradigm takes shape.
Drawing from Symantec's annual State of the Data Center report, The Register reports many CIOs are worried about the wave of retirements looming on their staffs, and also that many workers are specialists in one area, such as storage or networking. But with the trend toward data center convergence, cross-functional skills are in high demand.
In this SearchStorage.com piece on the rising demand for skills in storage, Sergey Katalichenka of email marketing firm Constant Contact is quoted saying:
We support not just storage, but also systems associated with that storage. We're looking for our candidate to be stronger in storage than administration but with knowledge of both.
At the same time, two recent surveys show companies are adding capacity to their data centers without adding staff to manage it, according to Computerworld.
A survey of 306 IT managers conducted by the data center managers group Association for Computer Operations Management found that only 35 percent of respondents' companies had added staff in the past three years. Yet during the same time, nearly 74 percent of the data centers increased their physical server count. And 37 percent had cut staff.
A separate study by Metrics Based Assessments, which benchmarks about 100 data centers a year, found that the number of Linux operating system images supported by system administrators full time had grown to 17.1 in 2010, compared with 9.2 in 2006, an 86 percent gain. The gain for Windows during that period was 61 percent and 28 percent for UNIX.
The story quotes John Longwell, vice president of research at Computer Economics, saying:
The impact of server virtualization, server management software, and data center automation is making the data center more efficient. At the same time, server counts are still rising ...
The story says staffs basically just have to figure out how to deal with it.
As automation grows in the data center, it seems imperative to add related skills to your tool box. And my colleague Ann All wrote about the advice of Glen O'Donnell, a senior analyst for Forrester Research, to become the automater. He said:
It's a truism that growing complexity will always result in another layer of abstraction that moves IT roles away from low-level technical detail and closer to the business itself. Much like developers who have progressively evolved up the stack, IT personnel will need to get out of the weeds and allow automation and processes to mature. In doing so, they won't sacrifice their roles-or their souls. Like software developers, their roles will evolve and they'll find themselves more productive than ever before.