Data centers have changed considerably over the last two decades. Back in the early days of the millennium, a visit to the data center would show row upon row of servers, racks, and storage arrays. These servers typically housed one application. Those days are long gone.
Today, data centers are leaner than ever. The expectation is that they will continue to get leaner.
Here are the top five trends in data center jobs:
See more: Data Storage Job Market Trends
1. Fewer Internal Employees
Not so long ago, there were individuals responsible solely for storage, solely for networking, and solely for compute or some other aspect of operations. But many functions have been shipped externally to the cloud or lack value by keeping them within the data center.
Yes, there will always need to be people working in the data center to change out servers, keep the cooling systems going, monitor humidity, manage the power, and so on. But their numbers are going down steadily.
“As the future status of on-site jobs continues to waver, organizations are realizing their IT department needs are changing,” said Amy Fowler, VP of strategy and solutions, FlashBlade business unit at Pure Storage.
“Work that was once done from within the data center can be — and during the pandemic had to be — managed remotely. If one job candidate can manage multiple on-site systems simultaneously from a desktop, it eliminates the need for multiple on-site employees with niche expertise. In order to stay competitive in today’s job market, job seekers should diversify their certifications to meet the needs of a hybrid workplace.”
2. Job Fluidity
Previously, new data center recruits joined a team and spent their career rising through the ranks of developers or storage managers. But the cloud has shifted that paradigm. Now career paths may flit around as the market changes and technology evolves.
“Corporate IT no longer offers experts a destination for a career in managing a single technology that is not broadly available or well understood,” said Douglas Mancini, chief commercial officer, Ori Industries.
“The introduction of cloud computing began the transition to multi-skilled technologists who are now being pushed even further in their capabilities with the emergence of edge computing. The ability to manage services running in clouds, data centers, telco edges, and IoT devices requires flexibility, knowledge, and a strong desire to stay at the forefront in the latest technology innovations. The new technology advances actually allow people to grow in their jobs versus having the same responsibilities and title for years.”
3. Data Center Generalists
Pigeonholed data center talents are fast disappearing. The IT generalist is replacing them.
“To remain relevant, data center workers need to expand their experience and knowledge from just physical hands-on of hardware or data center infrastructure items to learn more about the servers, storage, networks, and software that runs on them to support different business applications,” said Greg Schulz, an analyst with StorageIO Group.
4. FinOps Jobs
Bill Kleyman, EVP of digital solutions at Switch, noted that an entirely new position has been created to deal with cloud costs known as FinOps.
It is all about leveraging tools and methodologies to monitor, measure, and mitigate the costs and value delivered from the cloud.
“The tremendous savings seen from the switch to up-front CapEx investments in information technology to subscription mode is becoming muddied,” Kleyman said.
“That’s because rising monthly bills come in for services, and nobody knows where and when they were used. And so, new technology and operational disciplines were born: FinOps.”
5. Robotics and Automation
A lot is being made about how robotics and automation will do away with many internal data center tasks. Perhaps automation will get to the point where only one or two people need to be on duty inside at any one time. Or robots will be able to go around and service data center racks and maybe even change out servers.
According to the 2021 “State of the Data Center Report,” “Over 40% of respondents believe that robotics and automation will be leveraged in the data center. This means that our industry sees the benefit of leveraging more intelligent, autonomous systems for smaller tasks and distributed environments. These machines are being built as human-centric solutions. They are designed to augment our capabilities and allow humans to bring more value to the business.”
What isn’t receiving much attention, though, is the opportunity this presents to people skilled in data center operations, robotics, and automation. Those possessing these combined skill sets are likely to become prized commodities.
See more: Top 5 Data Storage Companies Hiring