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How to keep your data center skills up to date

It can be tough to pick the skills to develop when there are so many certifications to choose from. Data center industry trends can give you insight into what skills to pursue.

Between certifications, training and master's degrees, you can do quite a bit to keep your data center skills current. With all the different options, you may be wondering where to start or what type of career advancement is available.

In the competitive job market, it's important to develop a mix of technical and soft IT skills. Luckily, with the wide variety of education and training out there, it's possible to pursue professional development in different ways.

A straightforward option is a specialized degree in an area such as information systems management. Within the systems management curriculum, you'll encounter courses such as information systems basics, IT ethics, systems analysis, project management, as well as data center and infrastructure concepts. This type of training and education can help you get an environment-wide view of the infrastructures within an organization. Ultimately, it can provide a great foundation to get your career off the ground.

For long-term success as a data center specialist, employers are looking for candidates that augment more traditional schooling methods with some form of real-world experience. This can mean establishing expertise with certain software, looking into internships and consistently keeping yourself informed on the latest technological advancements.

Industry certifications also help you gain specialized data center skills without investing in a full four-year degree.

Adapting to industry needs

Following industry trends is a simple way to maintain your knowledge base. Over the course of 2017, IT professionals faced a few challenges within the data center management field.

Following industry trends is a simple way to maintain your knowledge base.

First, the cloud's role in data center infrastructure is changing. As more organizations deal with carrier-dense networks and colocation, you may want to look into relevant training to help you manage these environments.

Furthermore, data center skills and management are going beyond hardware and software maintenance. The emergence of Agile workflows requires more data center managers to familiarize themselves with the business aspect of operations and software purchasing. Instead of focusing simply on facility planning, you need to know how to host different business workloads, as well as the different ways infrastructure changes will affect operations.

Organizations are also looking to integrate artificial intelligence-based capabilities and even IoT-like dashboards for predictive maintenance, so those skills could come in handy.

Sharpening your IT skills

When it comes to the data center, there are specific data center skills you can develop to brand yourself as a data center specialist. The core responsibilities include:

  • Monitoring: Selecting and installing monitoring software for applications and hardware.
  • Integration: Ensuring all the systems and services work together throughout the deployment and integration processes.
  • Troubleshooting: Implementing proactive procedures for event management and root cause analysis.
  • Collaboration: Talking to end users to establish operating procedures and usage guides.

By getting some level of certification in these areas and familiarizing yourself with data center technologies, you can continue to expand your skills.

Even though you don't need to know all of the possible data center products, you must have a moderate understanding of Windows and Linux OSes, as well as scripting tools such as PowerShell.

Heading to the cloud

Cloud technology is a growing part of data center management, especially as organizations start to consider colocation and eliminating on-premises data centers. In addition to making yourself familiar with cloud architectures, learning the jargon of service license agreements can help you navigate the terms of data ownership and contract costs.

Overall, effective cloud management includes coordinating multiple environments, especially when organizations are increasingly deploying cloud setups in a variety of forms, from public to hybrid. Beyond the specific types of cloud, evaluating types of bandwidth and security features is essential to purchasing and managing the right configuration for your business.

As you progress as a specialist, you'll also develop real-world data center skills that enable you to assess situations, secure service contracts, and easily implement hardware and software. Through continuous learning, you'll ensure your employability and keep yourself ahead of the technology adoption curve.

This was last published in August 2018

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