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Data center manager wanted: Communication skills required

Matt Stansberry

NEW YORK -- You've spent your career pursuing computer science and technologies, but what if those skills are no longer enough to effectively manage an IT infrastructure? In an on-demand computing environment, experts say communication and business expertise are equally important.

According to Rob Schafer, an independent consultant from Granite Springs, N.Y., an on-demand data center environment will require IT workers to transition technical aptitude into business skills. In his keynote presentation at the Data Center Decisions 2005 conference this week, Schafer said understanding financials and business processes are no longer strictly the realm of executives.

There are a lot of areas where data center managers need to be able to evaluate business needs and explain them to other decision makers in the organization:

  • Expressing return on investment (ROI). IT needs to be able to describe short-term gains from infrastructure investments or on-demand initiatives. The shorter the cycle for ROI is, the lower the risk to the business, and it's more likely IT projects will be approved.
  • Determining if on-demand is right for the organization. If your organization is growing at 40%, Schafer said those organizations can perform on-demand type practices in-house. Companies growing at that rate can absorb excess IT infrastructure purchases. At the same time, slow growth -- less than 5% -- is also easy to manage computing
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