There are several different types of data centers and they all have at least one thing in common. Each facility requires effective data center staffing. From hyperscale data centers with massive square footage to small facilities using edge deployment, finding, training, and keeping IT professionals is a key component to managing a data center.
Regardless of the type or size of the data center, there are three main sets of data center talent: Facilities, IT, and Security. There are also three parts to a good staffing plan. The first step is to evaluate existing roles. Next is to set up training programs and then, finally, fund pipelines for future hires.
Let’s take a look at each of these parts individually.
Current State Evaluation and Risk Assessment
The evaluation should answer the question, “what skills are already in place in our organization?”. Set up a document that captures three assessment areas: technical skills, academic or professional training, and soft skills. Often overlooked in technical roles, soft skills such as writing, communication, and collaboration are fundamental. Leveraging soft skills with team members or outside vendors can provide numerous operational and financial efficiencies. Depending on the size of your company, you can ask your existing data center talent to self-survey or have human resources take on this task.
Since you’ll have a full evaluation of the current skill set across the entire organization, you’ll be able to identify gaps. Be sure to include skills and procedures acquired during the COVID-19 pandemic so that your facility is prepared and exceeding industry and government standards. Once you match skill gaps with risk assessment, you can plan for immediate versus long term hiring and training needs.
IT Training with Focus
Training programs need to address both professional development or certification for existing employees and onboarding of new hires. For skills that already exist within the company, you can set up one on one peer training or rotate skills workshops led by different individuals. In addition to transferring technical knowledge, leveraging internal resources can build rapport and reinforce the core values of the company.
Another option is hosting in-house training sessions or outsourcing to industry organizations. Establishing contacts at local community colleges and private education companies may take more effort, but can pay off in the long run. Industry groups, such as the Uptime Institute, are focused on improving industry-wide data center performance and can be an excellent resource. They offer three core data center training tracks based on their tier system for data center designer, specialist, and operations specialist. Other certifications include Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL®) Foundation, Data Center Design Consultant (DCDC), Registered Communications Distribution Designer (RCDD) and two Cisco Certifications, Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA®) Data Center Certification and Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP®) Data Center.
Establishing a Data Center Staffing Pipeline
When it comes to establishing a pipeline for future hires, the sky, and budget, is the limit. Since you’ll have a full evaluation of the current skill set across the entire organization, you’ll be able to identify gaps. Once you match skill gaps with risk assessment, you can plan for immediate versus long term hiring and training needs. There are a variety of existing and burgeoning resource pools from which to draw, beginning with existing training and industry groups. Veterans and community college students focused on STEM subjects are another possibility. Finally, establishing a connection with an IT recruiter can be an efficient way to stay on top of data center talent trends.
Building a Foundation
Data center staffing is one of the foundations of managing a facility, but is often overlooked or addressed at the last minute. By following the three steps above, you will be able to create a pipeline of IT professionals and ensure the success of your data center operations.
Silverback staff is expertly trained in data center staffing for your mission-critical digital infrastructure. We manage data center technicians, technical project managers, network engineers, system engineers, and architects across the nation. In addition to expertise in rack, device, cable, and port types, our professionals follow best practices for ingress, egress, and full environmental audits. We have a long term track record of success in data center staffing for all types and sizes of companies.