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The evolving talent ecosystem in data center management

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By Mohammed Atif, Director of Business Development, Park Place Technolgies

The pandemic fast tracked enterprise digital transformation initiatives across industries, at a pace that was quite impressive. India emerged as a country that embraced and accelerated innovation and technological transformation, achieving in two years, what would have otherwise taken five to ten. This significant digital pivot catalyzed the requirement for skilled technology talent across the enterprise. Tech talent that could build, manage, and maintain tools, platforms and systems across software and hardware mainframes.

An Imperial College London’s Institute for Global Health Innovation survey found that India scored one of the highest adoption rates for digital adoption during the pandemic: “Around 74% of respondents in India reported that digital technologies and data solutions have increased staff productivity, and 75% reported that digital solutions have been effective in delivering better outcomes for patients and service users. About 75% of respondents from India indicated that they plan to further invest in digital solutions and technologies over the next 3 years and that the level of investment will be more than 50% as compared to the previous 3 years.”

At the core of this digital transformation lies data centers that organizations use to house their data and critical applications. These data centers are getting increasingly complicated, with infrastructure migrating from conventional on-premises physical servers to virtual networks that can support applications and workloads across vast pools of physical infrastructure and further into a multi-cloud environment. Subsequently the talent required to keep these lungs up and running has become critical and quite specialized.

The Indian data center industry is expected to expand further in the near future, with the deployment of 5G.  They will provide the connectivity, infrastructure, and management services that will be required to support 5G services. The Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, and Cloud are also big contributors to this growth. Further, sustainability will play a more central role in data centres and professionals need to keep abreast of, incorporate knowledge on sustainability practices and amass skills that go beyond fundamental IT and engineering experience.

With the proliferation of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, IoT, Edge computing and the growing need for robust Cybersecurity etc, there are multiple roles that have been created to comprise of the full range of expertise needed to maintain and optimize the diverse systems common in any modern data center.

Appropriately skilled talent such as Cloud Architects, Solutions Architects, Virtualization Administrators, people who can configure management tools, databases, enterprise security and automation tools, those that can manage network engineering and load balancing, will all be in great demand. Going beyond, data centers will also employ personnel for project and facility management.

One of the ways to develop a skilled workforce to meet this demand, is for industry and academia come together to craft targeted curriculum that provide people with the required skillsets. Encouraging the young talent pool to consider very viable careers in data centre management / tech fields could drive awareness, interest, and participation.

The impact of cohesive and comprehensive learning and development opportunities provided by an enterprise to its talent base cannot be more important than it is right now. Building skill sets, focusing on transferable skills to understand a new way of thinking, and working, becoming more inclusive by putting together a diverse workforce, all work towards creating a knowledgeable workforce, adds creativity and encourages innovation.

For data centres on the other hand, to mitigate the talent conundrum, organizations must explore the possibility of automating data centre tasks. This can ensure quality and timeliness. Enterprises should also consider outsourcing their requirements to Managed Service Providers who are specialist service providers. By utilizing the outsourcing approach, they circumvent the skills challenge while simultaneously gaining access to experience and expertise in data centre maintenance, with cost arbitrage.

Data centre technology has taken centre stage and has become the powerhouse supporting the global economy. It is here to stay and will only evolve further as technology advancements find new use cases. For the people who will comprise of tomorrows work force and for employers the race for creating a skilled, high demand talent pool is on. Awareness of the vast opportunities that exist is just the starting block for professionals and enterprises should design a mindful, employee-centric strategy for recruitment and retention to ensure that data centres are efficient, secure, scalable, and appropriately staffed.

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