The IT department is taxing HR. This is the impression one gets from reviewing any discussion of the IT talent gap. From big data to cybersecurity and IoT, there are a variety of fields for which businesses say they lack the skilled employees to achieve their goals. Corporate recruitment wish lists today include mathematicians to write custom algorithms, scientists who understand AI, and systems architects who can guide them toward the edge. The competition is so tight, companies are going after these folks in interesting new ways, which reach beyond erecting playground-like campuses fun enough to attract today’s most creative tech luminaries.
For example, strategic acquisitions are being aimed at target-rich environments where these finite human resources cluster. Google has even partnered with Coursera to train IT support staff online and for free. Which brings us to our next point. Google says its effort is aimed at remedying a skills gap that has left some 150,000 IT support jobs unfilled. An online course with no prerequisites is clearly aimed at entry-level professionals. Sadly, the shortages further up the career ladder are just as concerning, if not more so.
The fact is, it’s difficult today to find and retain the full range of expertise needed to maintain and optimize the diverse systems common in any modern data center. Leveraging cloud services, where possible, can alleviate some issues, but on-premises data centers aren’t dead yet. Corporate and colocated data centers will continue to be used for various archival and compliance-centric systems, for which cloud storage is often not cost-effective, as well as legacy applications that can’t make the jump. Many companies are also keeping strategic applications—their differentiation powerhouses—in their own facilities.
Getting outside help to support these systems isn’t a sign of weakness, but rather a reasonable adaptation to a tight labor market where there is more demand for IT skills than supply. And by “help” we mean more than the usual OEM support contract.
Third party maintenance providers offer an attractive alternative to restrictive OEM support. The premier companies deliver personalized service designed for low-friction use. Things like immediate access to Level 3 support, proactive maintenance, and in-house experts on nearly all brands of storage, server, and networking technology can take a load off clients’ own employees and prevent another message to HR begging for new hires.
Few things in IT are fix-all solutions, and third party maintenance is no different. But as the talent gap widens, handing off hardware maintenance can provide welcome relief from the otherwise constant staffing pressures of data center management.