Demand for server specialists increases, but talent pool is small

Concerns about the public cloud have IT shops looking to on-premises solutions and searching for server specialists. But they’re having trouble filling the spots.

Almost two-thirds of organizations surveyed say recruiting for jobs in data center and server management is becoming increasingly difficult because of the skills needed, both in traditional servers and converged infrastructure.

The findings come from a worldwide survey by 451 Research for its Voice of the Enterprise: Servers and Converged Infrastructure, Organizational Dynamics study (registration required). It found that IT shops have concerns about the long-term costs of using public cloud, and that is causing many IT shops to pull back on their cloud movement and even expand on their on-premises infrastructure.

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Because of that, many organizations are looking to hire more server-based IT staff rather than reduce it, as would be expected in the move to the public cloud. But the fact remains that despite moving many workloads to the cloud, most organizations still need a data center and still have on-premises requirements

Two-thirds of companies, 67.7%, said the key driver for increasing server-related employees in the next 12 months is overall business growth, a good problem to have, followed by IT organizational changes at 42.4%.

“Most IT managers are closely scrutinizing their deployment options instead of blindly following the pack to IaaS and other off-premises cloud services,” said Christian Perry, research manager and lead analyst of the survey, in a statement.

“When determining the optimal mix of on- and off-premises compute resources, there is no doubt this is hampered by the availability of specialist skills and regional availability. Whether organizations will realize their expected server staff expansion remains to be seen due to hiring difficulties,” he added.

Hard to find server specialists

451 Research expects the worldwide pool of available full-time employees dedicated to server administration will decline due to difficulties in finding the right candidates. Almost 70% of respondents said current candidates lack skills and experience. A lack of candidates by region and high salaries are also cited as causes.

The makeup of IT teams is also evolving and having an impact on available personnel. The survey found a nearly even split between the need for generalists and specialists: 40.4% of managers choose specialists, and 39.4% choose IT generalists. Over the past two years, 451 Research has noted the trend veering toward generalists, particularly as automation, orchestration and software-defined technologies take hold.

“The time and resource savings from these new technologies results in a slightly reduced need for server specialists,” Perry said. “The good news is that there remains a need for specialists across both standalone servers and converged and hyper-converged infrastructures. This is especially true within LOBs or remote divisions or departments.”

New technology creates need for specialists

However, there is also a need for specialists as converged and hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) takes hold. As adoption of software-defined infrastructure technologies increases, for example using HCI, organizations can gain new staffing efficiencies that fall outside that traditional staffing policy and practice.

This is where vendors such as Dell EMC and HP Enterprise have to take a lead in educating customers on the benefits of proper staffing levels through a deeper understanding of optimal infrastructure use and resource distribution. Customers need to not only know what boxes they are getting but the skills best suited to manage them.

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Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.