Modern data center strategy: Design, hardware and IT's changing role
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Cloud and other IT megatrends change how the data center operates, fostering new opportunities.
Change also creates new challenges. Many CIOs are struggling to hire IT staff, especially professionals with the right skill sets, which go beyond the traditional technical focus.
"Companies are searching for employees who have a sound business background as well as technical expertise," said Shravan Goli, president of Dice, an online job directory.
Cummins Inc. seeks business liaison
An IT business analyst position listed at power-and-fuel company Cummins Inc. seeks candidates that can translate functional and nonfunctional requirements into scalable IT solutions. The job relies heavily on technology capabilities, research and documentation skills, as well as customer focus, relationship management, stakeholder consultation and excellent communication skills.
As a result, six new data center careers are emerging for qualified individuals.
The idea of having a liaison between IT and the business units is not new, but what that title means is changing. Today's role has a strategic focus, rather than acting as an IT-to-business translator.
This career requires a deep understanding of how the business operates to map corporate goals to system capabilities. If the company wants to increase customer satisfaction, for example, then the liaison identifies what system, software and personnel investments will improve customer experience. They go beyond tracking typical return on investment metrics to capture and quantify new ones, such as social media interactions. Increasingly, analytics are an important component for the IT/business liaison.
Help us meet business regulations
Not surprisingly, global financial services firms like Morgan Stanley and Spot Trade hire compliance officers with experience in regulatory inquiries. Applicants must know how to analyze complex and sometimes real-time trading data, working in concert with legal and IT departments.
Security breaches and privacy concerns have government and industry regulations on the rise, prompting IT departments to add compliance officers. These professionals consult with business and subject matter experts to identify compliance requirements. They develop, implement and administer monitoring programs, risk assessments and compliance processes. Officers collect information, analyze trends and develop reports to show how well the business is meeting various regulations. Informing corporate leaders, business units and managers on compliance issues, and recommending corrective actions throughout the enterprise, are also specified job requirements. When needed, compliance officers work to implement corrective action plans with relevant business groups.
Increasingly, IT needs dedicated programmers to help the department build and launch infrastructure software, authentication services and various forms of virtualization. To succeed in this role, professionals must have a strong grasp of IT's strategic vision and identify which infrastructure software and tools will help realize that vision. This data center career requires a lot of time spent analyzing systems at the interface level and connecting various elements.
Help needed: building corporate cloud
Etherios, an Internet of Things focused division of Digi International, created an IoT and cloud evangelist position responsible for "establishing and supporting internal and external adoption of relevant cloud technologies across the enterprise in a consistent and measurable manner."
A majority of organizations are investing in cloud computing to some degree. An evangelist helps to grow the corporate cloud program, establishing and supporting adoption of appropriate cloud technologies. This employee engages with the broad community of customers, partners, industry groups and other influential individuals to show them what is possible and to help foster cloud adoption. To be successful, the cloud evangelist rapidly develops prototypes and demos to highlight various platforms' capabilities.
Data center generalist
If you're running the data center for a small company, perhaps you already know how to be a data center generalist. Even at large enterprises, the days are waning when data center technicians focus on select devices -- servers, storage systems, networks. Virtualization now automates data migration; converged systems, such as the Cisco Unified Computing System, are more common; and corporations need someone who crosses all silos and views infrastructure performance at a high level. These individuals need sufficient technical depth to troubleshoot problems and enough business acumen to examine the financial implications of system performance.
Facebook seeking DCIM specialist
Facebook is hiring a DCIM project manager for its site operations services team to evaluate tools and define expectations, as well as head up implementation and use. The job requires at least five years of project management experience and favors candidates with data center experience.
Businesses today merge data center and facilities systems and groups. These techies need to understand how to work with tools that monitor, measure, manage and/or control data center utilization and energy consumption. They control both IT equipment, such as servers, storage and network switches, and facility infrastructure components, such as power distribution units and computer room air conditioners. These employees run specialized software, hardware and sensors so the firm has a common, real-time monitoring and management platform for all interdependent systems across IT and facility infrastructures. Eventually, a great deal of intelligence will be added upon this data center infrastructure monitoring and management (DCIM) structure, as will highly specialized automation capabilities. DCIM specialists aim to create a dynamic infrastructure that self-adjusts and tunes settings to closely match data center resources with workload demands.
To get one of these six data center careers, "be flexible," said Dice's Goli. IT pros in demand constantly update their skill sets. Volunteering for new projects puts you at the front of the pack as emerging technologies work their way into the organization.
About the author:
Paul Korzeniowski is a freelance writer who specializes in data center issues. He has been covering technology for two decades, is based in Sudbury, Massachusetts, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.