Data center talent pool shrinks faster than expected

Business disruptions also increasing due to budget cuts

The talent pool of senior data center pros is shrinking faster than anticipated as budget cuts have forced businesses to close their doors and shed older workers, the ones with the most knowledge and experience, according to the AFCOM Data Center Institute (DCI).

Three years ago, DCI predicted that the talent pool of "qualified senior level technical and management data center professionals" will shrink 45% by 2015.

But "due to the recession, the shrinking of the talent pool ... has actually sped up," AFCOM said this week in an update to its earlier report, titled "Five Bold Predictions for the Data Center."

More than 60% of IT workers with mainframe experience are now at least 50 years old.

"In many cases older, higher paid employees, the ones with the most knowledge and experience, have been offered buy-outs and this has resulted in many taking early retirement and not reentering the work force," AFCOM states.

On the flip side, many workers who planned to retire are continuing to work because they lost a large portion of their retirement savings. But the group's most recent member survey showed nearly 10% of data centers expecting to cut staff.

AFCOM, which is hosting the Data Center World conference in Las Vegas this week, said budget cuts are having an impact on most of the five predictions made in 2006.

AFCOM had forecasted that one out of four data centers would experience a disruption affecting the entire company at some point in the next five years. Budget cuts are worsening this trend, as 6.1% of data centers are decreasing physical security measures and 4.5% are lessening data security measures. (Compare data leak protection products)

More than one in ten companies "forecast that budget cuts ... will result in an increase in service interruptions," AFCOM states.

The group also predicted three years ago that by 2010 more than half of data centers will have to relocate to new facilities or outsource some applications. This trend has slowed down.

"Our most recent survey shows that 40.1% of all data centers cutting budgets will have to delay or cancel a planned physical expansion or relocation," AFCOM states. "Because of this, we believe we'll see an increase in outsourcing as data center space gets tighter and capital spending drains up."

Another prediction had 90% of companies seeing downtime within five years due to power failures and limits on power availability. This prediction is still accurate, the group said.

Finally, AFCOM predicted that nearly 70% of data centers will use some form of grid computing or virtual processing by 2010. This is happening faster than expected. About 86% of data centers surveyed by AFCOM expect to increase virtualization, and many are also taking advantage of cloud and utility computing to reduce the need for new servers.

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Jon Brodkin

Network World
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