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Staff Cuts & Talent Shortages Are Plaguing Data Centers

by on February 24, 2010

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Data center managers are being whipsawed by payroll paring and a dearth of qualified candidates, according to a recent survey conducted by Applied Research for security software maker Symantec. The worldwide poll of data center specialists in 1,780 enterprises with at least 1,000 employees revealed that 50 percent of the IT executives acknowledged their data centers were understaffed, with 16 percent characterizing their centers as extremely understaffed and 34 percent saying their facilities were somewhat understaffed.

According to the report, qualified staffers for data centers are difficult to find because the facilities are becoming more complex to run. In addition, service level agreements are becoming more demanding to manage. Although a majority of respondents revealed they were having trouble finding money and talent for their operations, 45 percent of them said their staffing levels were appropriate and five percent even admitted they were overstaffed.

Compared to prior years, the surveyors discovered, more companies are reducing heads to save money. Thirty-one percent of the respondents said their companies were using workforce reductions to control costs in the 2009 survey, compared to 24 percent in 2008. Other cost cutting techniques that appeared on the pollsters’ radar were cross-training IT staff, automation, server virtualization and consolidation, chargebacks, cloud computing and outsourcing.

A surprising finding uncovered by the surveyors was that large businesses, long on the leading edge of technology adoption, were lagging behind mid-sized enterprises–businesses with 2,000 to 9,000 employees–in embracing new technologies.  What’s slowed down the early adopter fervor in big businesses? According to the report, increased red tape.

Although technologies like server virtualization, data archiving, green computing and cloud computing have been buzz generators in the trade media, they’re not as important to data center pros, the surveyors found, as security, backup and recovery, and continuous data protection.

In the disaster recovery area, the researchers found that the average confidence level of the respondents in their disaster recovery plans was 80 percent, although 33 percent confessed that their plans were undocumented and needed work, and another 33 percent hadn’t reviewed their plans in 12 months.

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