Why have data center technicians become IT’s latest white whale?:
Organizations all over the world are struggling to attract and retain skilled data center talent. But why?

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If you’re shifting your organization’s data center strategy from the cloud to a hybrid model, you likely need to build up infrastructure and operations (I&O) teams who can configure, install, and manage your physical data center.

But after a decade of cloud dominance, finding skilled data center technicians is proving to be many organizations’ white whale. In fact, according to a survey from the Uptime Institute, 54% of respondents cited staffing as the biggest need for data center operators.

Recruiting from a tiny pool of candidates can be slow-moving and ultra-competitive. To execute a data center infrastructure build correctly, technicians and engineers need to be cross-trained and certified across multiple hardware devices and software applications – which makes training your own technicians time-prohibitive. And if someone does step up to the plate, you’ll need additional resources to fill the gaps left in their old role. For many organizations, it’s a lose-lose situation.

So where have all the data center technicians gone? And how can you complete your mission-critical projects if you can’t find the talent you need?

We had our heads in the cloud

Around a decade ago, many organizations started shifting their investments to the cloud. With so much of their data center operations moved off site, they withdrew investments from their I&O teams, forcing data center technicians to do more with less.

Staff and resources were dedicated to other business priorities. When organizations did need help with their data center, they turned to third-party providers to fill the void left by their divestments.

At the time, it made sense. After all, why wouldn’t a shrinking need for onsite data centers equate to a shrinking need for in-house data center technicians?

We spent a decade with our heads in the cloud. Meanwhile, data center technicians cross-trained for other roles, moved on to other organizations, or even joined the third-party providers their organizations contracted.

Now, the strategy has shifted to a hybrid model. Organizations see the value of building resiliency through operating across both physical servers and the cloud. But just because we’re finally ready to come back down to Earth doesn’t mean those technicians will suddenly reappear.

We’re asking a very tall (and specific) order

Being a data center technician is a sophisticated and demanding job. Industry standards expect technicians to hold certifications such as CompTIA A+ and Server+, ITIL, DCCA, and more. And depending on which OEM(s) your data center is standardized on, you could require an entire additional suite of vendor-specific certifications – many of which are intensive and costly to earn. These include:

  • Cisco’s CCNA and CCNP.
  • HPE’s Master ASE.
  • Dell’s PowerEdge, PowerScale, and PowerStore certifications.
  • NVIDIA’s DGX installation certifications.
  • Pure Storage certifications, including:
    • Pure Certified FlashBlade® and FlashArray™ Implementation Specialist.
    • Pure Certified Platform Architect Expert.

And those are just the certification requirements! You also need your technicians to be compliant with industry standards such as ISO/IEC 22237, ISO/IEC 24091, and ISO 27001.

Imagine needing all these certifications and requirements during a time when most organizations were offloading their physical data center. It’s no wonder why the pool of data center technicians has shrunken as much as it has.

And now, as AI and machine learning (ML) make waves across the industry, I&O teams are feeling déjà vu. Investments are flooding into these areas and I&O teams are bracing for another era of doing more with less.

So you haven’t caught your white whale. Here’s what to do next

To build resilience against data breaches and cyberattacks, you – and many other organizations – have decided to bring some of your data center operations back onsite or deploy them at the edge. It’s time for a modern, hybrid data center that leverages both the adaptability of the cloud and the security and control of on-prem. But you haven’t been able to build up your I&O team to make it happen.

You may not have caught your white whale, but that doesn’t mean you’re lost at sea.

Consider the help of a third-party integrator

Trusted third-party integrators, including SHI’s own integrated data center solutions (IDCS) team, can quicken your data center provisioning while reducing infrastructure build and empty cage costs. Integration partners help build custom-configured servers based on your unique needs and use cases, and can even perform testing and validation services before any hardware delivery.

The magic of SHI’s IDCS portfolio happens at our global integration centers, where we can rack and stack over a hundred custom servers simultaneously. Through these integration centers, SHI has helped a Fortune 20 organization configure 1,000 server racks annually, including:

  • Golden image creation.
  • BIOS, OS, and firmware setup.
  • Asset tagging.
  • Third-party software integration.
  • Global shipment.

And that’s just a small sample of IDCS’ capabilities. If you’re struggling to attract or retain in-house data center technicians, SHI’s integration centers can also provide:

  • Design and validation.
  • Equipment logistics and staging.
  • Supply chain and project management.
  • Rack and stack services.
  • Component integration.
  • Server assembly.
  • Cabling and labeling.
  • And more!

According to SHI’s IDCS Director of Technical Strategy, Howard Shaw, “With IDCS, SHI compresses months of effort into just weeks by leveraging our dedicated integration centers. This accelerates our customers data center deployments while reducing their load on internal resources.”

In fact, our integration experts have found IDCS from SHI consistently reduces data center build costs by 30%, making SHI a valuable integration partner for organizations struggling to hire in-house data center technicians.

If you’d like to learn more about how IDCS from SHI can help modernize your data center, you can explore each step of our industry-leading integration process.