When Vertiv pulled together a team of experts from across the organization and around the globe to identify potential data center trends for 2019, there was plenty of discussion about power and cooling technologies, the edge network and innovative approaches to monitoring and management. There were surprises in the details, but broadly speaking, the topics were what we expected – with one notable exception.
We heard variations of the same thing from all corners of the business: the data center talent gap is real, and it’s rapidly expanding from gap to full-fledged chasm.
Shrinking Population of Institutional Experts
This problem spans the developed and developing world and takes on unique characteristics in each region. For example, primarily in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, the Baby Boomer generation that made up the bulk of the data center workforce for decades are aging out of those jobs. A younger generation is replacing them, bringing different skillsets – some more useful than others – but lacking the institutional knowledge of their predecessors. Traditional training programs are limited and lag behind an industry that is flocking to the cloud and the edge.
The industry is reacting in a couple of ways. It starts with a rethinking of how we staff the data center, particularly as more is asked of ever fewer human resources. The limited number of bachelor’s degree programs available in the U.S. and Europe that are focused on data center operations and technology, and with those programs slow to adjust to the rapid changes across the industry, in-house training programs will become more common. Organizations are likely to target new hires with basic IT skills who have an aptitude for learning and problem solving. Critical thinking will be prioritized, and organizations will trust their own abilities to handle the technical training.
A Promising Artificial Intelligence Future?
The second piece is technology-focused. As we move into 2019, businesses increasingly will use intelligent systems capable of machine learning and artificial intelligence to simplify operations, preserve institutional knowledge, and enable more predictive and efficient service and maintenance. In short, the new guy might not know or be able to learn from what happened a year ago, but the smart systems underpinning your IT infrastructure will.
Vertiv is working on both tracks. We’re making our solutions more intelligent, leveraging cloud resources to capture massive amounts of data, and using machine learning and AI technology to allow our infrastructure equipment to effectively absorb institutional knowledge. Simultaneously, we are building more structured, robust internal training programs to complement the baseline new employees bring to the organization. So, we’re helping our customers manage the issue through more intelligent infrastructure solutions, and we’re ensuring our employees are equipped to meet the needs of the modern data center through better internal training programs.
What is your organization doing to bridge the data center talent gap?