The digital revolution is bringing about a stunning transformation of the modern data center and its workers. Like Peter Parker turned Spider-Man, the data center workforce needs to pick up new skills to step into its new superhero role. What’s driving this data center transformation?

Billions of smart devices, “connected things,” and apps for everything are generating an unprecedented flood of new data. According to Cisco’s Global Cloud Index, the data stored in data centers worldwide will more than quintuple by 2020 to reach 915 exabytes (EB), up 5.3-fold (a CAGR of 40 percent) from 171 EB in 2015.

At the same time, there is a growing appreciation for the value of data as a precious business resource that can dramatically enhance customer experience and business performance.

And now, as if billions of smart phones and other smart devices weren’t enough, bots driven by artificial intelligence are making hyperconnected customers even more connected.

The ASAP Data Center

The agile data center lies at the intersection of all this new activity. This isn’t the old hardware- and database-centric data center of yesterday. This is a new kind of data center: one built for scale, one that can respond to new requirements as they arise. This is a data center that leverages automation, features common policy-driven management, and uses cloud-oriented technologies, software-defined technology, and virtualization to support the business models and customer experiences that companies need to embrace and deliver today.

spiderman-1043735_1920.jpgCisco calls it the ASAP data center. ASAP stands for analyze, simplify, automate, and protect. The Cisco ASAP approach addresses the hybrid model that businesses are embracing today. It dramatically improves IT alignment with business objectives and policy requirements. And it leverages technology that enables organizations to reduce their application deployment times from weeks to minutes.

Next-Generation Skills

Just like Peter Parker, who didn’t become Spider-Man overnight, data center professionals need to learn some new skills to become the superheroes who run these new nerve centers of business transformation.

The time for narrow, specialized skill sets is past. Modern data centers require individuals to have both breadth and depth of skills that enable them to master new technologies that impact operations:

  • Networking professionals now need to understand unified computing, programming, and orchestration.
  • Data center and system administrators are being asked to design policies that can streamline operations.
  • Software-defined IT as a service (ITaaS) environments require data center personnel to develop basic programming skills.
  • Networking specialists need to understand application programming interfaces (APIs) and script development to manage networks that dynamically adapt to meet the needs of applications.
  • And, increased connectivity ups the ante for data center security skills.


If your spidey sense is tingling, pay attention! These skills are dramatically different from those needed by yesterday’s data center professionals, and you’ll need to adapt your skills to keep up. In this environment, training and certification programs have become vital ways for data center professionals to build new skills and demonstrate their value.

Download Cisco’s white paper, "The Workforce of the ASAP Data Center," now to learn more about the transformation of the modern data center and how you can develop your own superhero skills to keep pace.

And, after that, aim your web-shooter at our Data Center certifications page for further inspiration and direction for taking charge of your career.


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Karen Louie is a product marketing manager at Learning@Cisco focusing on data center training and certification. Her charter is to help ensure that CCNA, CCNP, and CCIE Data Center professionals gain the skills necessary to operate data centers efficiently. To this role she brings IT services expertise in the areas of enterprise management and operating environments, the cloud, systems integration, and enterprise software services.