In the annual data center industry survey, conducted and published by Uptime Institute, reports that a huge concern among data center managers deals with the difficulty of retaining and recruiting staff. Researchers at Uptime Institute say that the lack of staffing is predominantly attributed to the “largely invisible” nature of the data center industry. People don’t often realize that when systems and applications are running on the cloud, there’s a physical infrastructure that makes it possible. Therefore its getting harder to find people to design, build and manage data centers.
The sector is facing a staffing crisis, said Andy Lawrence, executive director of research at Uptime Institute. “We all know that the data-center skills shortage is real. I think what we’re seeing in this data is that it’s getting a little worse,” Lawrence said. This year, 61 percent of respondents said they’ve had significant difficulty recruiting and retaining staff, which is up from 55 percent just last year.
“It’s ever present,” said Chris Brown, CTO of Uptime Institute, of the people problem. Skills that are in short supply range from facility staff to IT to security operations teams. Outreach is needed, he said. The industry is going to have to work harder to increase recruiting efforts and spread the word about its high-growth prospects. “In the data center industry, we really haven’t marketed out to the society at large, who we are, what we are, how important we are, what careers are available, and that those careers are here to stay,” Brown said.
Contributing to the staffing crisis is a lack of workplace diversity. In particular, the Uptime Institute’s research highlights a significant gender imbalance: 25 percent of managers surveyed have no women along their design, build or operations staff, and another 55 percent have 10 percent or fewer women on staff. Only five percent of respondents said women represent 50 percent or more of staff.
Yet, most respondents don’t seem to think there’s anything deterring women from working where they work. A majority (85 percent) said it’s easy for women to pursue a career in their respective organization’s data center team or department. Meanwhile, only 15 percent said it’s difficult.
In the grade scheme of things, diversity issues have the potential to become a threat to business operations. “Study after study shows that a lack of diversity is not just a pipeline issue,” Rhonda Ascierto, vice president of research at Uptime Institute, said. Lack of diversity also can lead to technical stagnation, generate negative publicity, and potentially contribute to a loss of market share, she commented.