Today’s data centers bear little resemblance to those of the past in terms of the responsibility they carry. For digitized businesses, the data center is the hub of a whole new realm of possibilities. It serves as a versatile reservoir of data and software and must remain up and running to serve the organization and its customers.

Enterprises need access to data from anywhere. They must analyze it instantly and then use it to make rapid decisions closer to where the data came from in order to fuel innovation and reach their desired business outcomes. Thus, the business need has changed from simply connecting devices. It is now about securing, aggregating, automating, and drawing insights from the data these devices generate. All done in a way that opens up new markets and new business models.

Spending on data centers will rise to $16 billion by 2019, according to IDC. The research firm also forecasts that by 2018, 60 percent of companies will rely on highly instrumented data centers that use automation to boost efficiency and tie data center and IT spend to business value.

In such an environment, the skills that data center professionals must have are changing rapidly. Those who embrace this development and learn new skills will be rewarded. The ones who don’t will be left behind.

Skills Needed for the Modern Data Center Infrastructure

To upgrade data center architectures for today’s digitized world, data center professionals need advanced skills. While deep product and technical knowledge is still necessary, IT professionals focused on data center are expected to have skills and knowledge depth and breadth with multiple technologies that equip the data center with an “IT-as-a-service” agile infrastructure.

cisco-data-center.jpgProfessionals in today’s data center will be expected to cover a much broader area of knowledge and expertise. A few specialists will remain, but more and more they will need new skills and be expected to take advantage of new technologies focused on data center infrastructure. These infrastructure-oriented skills span servers, storage, networking, and hardware. Other skills cover software, the cloud, virtualization, and secure data center and data protection.

Shouldering these new skills enables you to turbocharge your value to the organization. Automating IT tasks shortens the time needed to get applications running and to meet business needs. Data center professionals need to know how to use software-defined networking (SDN) policies that take into account business needs across physical and virtual networks, servers, storage, security, and services. They must also integrate all physical and virtual environments under one policy model. All of this enables businesses to derive greater value from growing volumes of data in a faster time frame. It also significantly boosts IT responsiveness without additional resources.

The good news is that, to validate these skills, there are certifications that data center professionals can obtain. IT professionals with data center certifications can tackle challenging roles in today’s complex data centers.

New Skills for the Data Center

Skills-based certification and training enables IT practitioners to optimally plan, implement, and run the IT data center network infrastructure in support of agile and innovative business initiatives.

The knowledge and skills should serve learners at all levels, from the beginner to the advanced professional. Training should enable the IT practitioner on topics such as the following:

  • Basic skills for installing, configuring, and maintaining data centers
  • The basics of cloud computing, automation, and orchestration of data center infrastructure
  • Unified computing
  • Virtualization
  • Data center virtualization
  • SDN management and monitoring
  • Data center security
  • Policy-driven infrastructure
  • Storage networking
  • Evolving technologies like IoT and cloud


Looking Ahead

The data center has become the foundation of the digitized business. Investing in the learning and development of data center employees is critical to the life of the business. IT practitioners need to understand how to harness new data center technologies to deliver business agility. By equipping team members to manage the modern data center, businesses proactively prepare for their success.

How have you seen your data center changing in recent times? Let us know in the Comments below. And, if you haven't seen our recent blog posts by Karen Louie on the next-generation data center and how Cisco's certifications have evolved to meet the modern need, click here and here.


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Antonella Corno_final_thumb.jpgAntonella Corno has 20+ years of experience in the IT industry, as part of a career spanning two continents (Europe and North America), in several leading IT companies, most recently at Cisco. While she has been in technology R&D for most of her career, her interest has recently shifted to the training and certifications that are supporting and enabling the workforce of the future, and she is now responsible for the Application, Software, and Cloud Team within the Product Strategy group of Learning@Cisco.