Shortage of skilled workers in the data center: How promoting diversity helps

Demand for digital services has increased during the pandemic, highlighting the skills shortage in the data center industry.

The global job market is on the verge of an historic shift as workers are largely free to choose where they work in the face of increasing home office regulations. According to BITKOM, the number of vacancies for IT specialists rose to 96,000 across all sectors in 2021. This is an increase of twelve percent compared to the previous year. Although the shortage of qualified IT professionals is affecting all aspects of the technology industry, the problem in the data center sector is compounded by a large number of experienced employees who are retiring.

The certification body for data center planning predicts that the global data center workforce will increase from about two million full-time employees in 2019 to almost 2.3 million in 2025. As a result, over the next five years, the data center industry will face the challenge of filling more jobs than there are workers available.

One problem: most positions require either a university or college degree, or – most importantly – equivalent work experience that replaces formal training. In addition, cloud operators create new demands, especially in the area of ​​consumer-oriented IT services. They often poach the few experienced employees from the company’s data centers. As more IT professionals follow the higher salaries that cloud providers typically offer, companies are finding it difficult to compete.

Diversity matters

Diversity is the key to solving the skills shortage. As a fast-growing and dynamic industry, data center companies should consider talented people from diverse backgrounds. Employers need to both think outside the box and reassess current job requirements to draw from a larger pool of diverse talent.

Diversity matters, whether it’s vendors or individuals. Businesses need to recognize and adapt to this new reality. Central to continued growth, new hires also offer the benefit of bringing fresh perspectives to solving the complex challenges of a modern data center. If employers embrace diversity and change, they will survive in this new era.

Push different approaches

Another approach to solving the problem is the development of IT generalists who take on various tasks. This reduces the pressure on companies and makes them less dependent on experts who are difficult and expensive to hire and retain.

Many IT data center professionals already have a variety of qualifications. Data center teams increasingly require both operational and development skills, individuals may be responsible for managing computers, storage and networks. That means automation has never been more important than it is today.

Generalists are able to achieve more with the right tools. Choosing the right management system eliminates the need for vendor-specific expertise. It also frees up the team by eliminating the need to learn the CLI language of individual technology vendors.

Intent-based network systems, for example, allow administrators to use a single system to specify what availability, security, quality of experience or compliance they need. The software then completely automates the processes for setting up and providing the network. In addition, the system warns the operator when and why failures and malfunctions occur. In addition, some intent-based network systems are able to perform these steps for multiple providers. This leads to more flexibility in supplier selection in times of supply chain bottlenecks.

Likewise, professionals who leave the company often take important knowledge about the network with them. A lack of documentation is not only a problem for troubleshooting, but also makes a network vulnerable to security breaches if it is not known exactly which systems are reachable together.

Better positioned for the future

Organizations should establish practices for running their infrastructure without having to rely on their experts always being available. Tools that enable self-publishing, automatic documentation of system changes and workloads, and segmentation of the network lead to a more diversified workforce. You can operate the network without compromising the user experience. Thanks to teams from different areas, companies will be better prepared for future challenges thanks to the variety of ideas, background knowledge and experience.