Why the Data Center Is (Still) Hot!

Not literally, given all the progress in energy-efficient data centers—I mean hot career-wise due to the very interesting initiatives that depend upon the data center infrastructure. It’s a good time to be an IT professional, especially a data center professional.

Just a few short years ago, big spending in the data center was focused on upgrading or modernizing infrastructure, including building new data centers, implementing virtualization technologies, and the start of deploying workloads to cloud computing.  The measurements of success were primarily about lowering TCO, improving energy efficiencies, and, of course, good ROI.


Innovation Is a Driving Force

Fast-forward to 2015 and the emphasis is on innovation. Business-driven digital transformation initiatives are fueling the continued need to have highly scalable, always available, secure data centers that these innovation-driven initiatives can depend upon. The goal for the modern IT data center is to be the elastic infrastructure to support business innovation initiatives (BIIs). Some call it IT as a service (ITaaS).

Here is a short rundown of a few of the key IT projects that companies are investing in. Which ones resonate with you? The underlying theme is that these cool projects depend on the data center infrastructure—you know, network, storage, computing, and security services that are managed by highly skilled data center professionals:

  • Cloud-based applications and cloud services: This area continues to be a major emphasis for most companies. Who isn’t already (or will be) working on, or supporting, some sort of private, hybrid, or public cloud-based application?
  • Devices: Smart(er) devices generate tons of data, and the opportunity is to capture it, manage it, and turn it into useful information, real time. Which leads to our next one …
  • Big data/analytics: The amount of digital data doubles every two years, and is estimated by IDC to be over 40 trillion gigabytes by 2020. Big data and analytics enable the analysis and transformation of data into valuable insights or services.
  • Virtualization of storage and servers: This effort has been going on for some time and continues to be a major focus in order to meet high-availability and business continuity requirements needed by the influx of business-driven IT projects.


What This Means for Data Center Professionals

Depending upon where you are in your career, there could be some technology areas where you can beef up skills-wise. As usual, planning, designing, managing, implementing, troubleshooting, supporting, and project managing the data center infrastructure apply; it’s a matter of adding expertise in these areas in support of more complex projects that you want to work on. Let’s say you are already in the data center profession for seven or so years and are well-respected as a network administrator or data center engineer. If so, some advanced technology areas to add to your skill set are the following:

  • Cloud: Automation, orchestration, provisioning, and cloud bursting
  • Fabric-based or unified computing: Coupled compute servers, storage, and networks linked by high-bandwidth interconnects like 10 Gigabit Ethernet
  • Network programmability or software-defined networks: Simplifying network architecture and operations

And for those fresh on the Data Center career track, Cisco has a whole set of training and certifications spanning Associate level to Expert level and covering planning, designing, implementing, troubleshooting, and running the data center network infrastructure. For more information, click here.


A Great Career Choice

So, if you are reading this, and you are already a data center professional, you know that the demand for your services is strong. Recent job listings using a popular job posting site for various data center job titles pulled up more than 13,000 available jobs in the United States, United Kingdom, India, and Australia combined. More than 35 percent of these jobs explicitly listed expertise in Cisco technologies or Cisco certification in the experience section.

Salaries for data center professionals continue to be strong. Below is a recent sampling of data center average base salaries from Indeed.com. While these are U.S. data points, every region is experiencing strong demand and salaries. As you may recall, Gary Pfitzer recently did a blog post covering salaries for security and networking professionals – and those looked good too! For those deciding on data center as a career choice, there are a wide variety of job roles or types ranging from network administrator to senior network architect or senior data center architect, from associate to master or expert level. And there are layers of management choices as well. If you are interested in finding out more about data center as a career choice, take a look at this infographic.


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We would like to hear from our CCIE and CCNP certified Data Center gurus and experts about the types of exciting projects you’ve been working on!!