Data Center Managers Say They Can't Fill IT Jobs

By Jessica Davis  |  Posted 2009-01-12 Email Print this article Print

Symantec's second annual State of the Data Center Report reveals that 43 percent of data center managers say finding qualified IT people is a big problem or a huge problem. Other findings include cost reduction efforts, server virtualization and storage virtualization initiatives, and a big focus on training.

Even as more companies announce layoffs and the jobless rate hits a 16-year high, 43 percent of data center managers say that finding qualified IT people to work in their organizations is either a big problem or a huge problem.

That's according to Symantec's second annual State of the Data Center survey of 1,600 data center management professionals with budgetary responsibility. The survey was commissioned by Symantec and conducted by Applied Research.
And while the survey was conducted in late September and early October as the scope of the financial crisis was still being revealed, the survey shows that there are specialized data center skill sets that continue to be in high demand regardless of the current state of the economy, according to Sean Derrington, director of storage management and high availability at Symantec.

"The unemployment rate has increased since this survey was conducted," he says. "But these results show the demand for data center specialized skill sets and the need for cross training. Channel partners need broad skill sets that are as applicable to as many systems as possible."

The IT talent shortage was just one of the findings of Symantec's survey this year which also looked at issues such as IT training, priorities for 2009, budgets for 2009 and the state of their disaster recovery programs.

Overall data center managers say 2009 will be about doing more with less and reducing costs. One way they sought to increase their advantage? Training.

"Two-thirds of respondents look at training as a strategic and important activity," Derrington says. With that in mind, 78 percent of respondents say their training budgets will rise or stay constant in the next year, a huge amount considering that industry is entering 2009 in a recession.

Derrington also noted that 45 percent of respondents said they will be outsourcing some IT tasks in 2009–which means opportunity for solution providers.

Another somewhat surprising result, especially given the focus on reducing costs, was that half of respondents–50 percent–said they expected their budgets to increase in the next 12 months. However, Derrington said the watchword for budgets continued to be "caution."

"A large portion of IT budgets is about keeping the lights on," Derrington says, "and a small portion is focused on strategic tasks."

Taking some of that cost out of keeping the lights on continues to be a focus for data center managers. So they are looking at increasing server utilization and storage utilization.  According to the Symantec-commissioned survey, servers were typically running at 53 percent utilization.

"This is higher than we would expect, but it shows more and more server virtualization continues to be deployed," Derrington says. "But it could also indicate that they don't know what their server utilization is."

Respondents reported that their storage utilization was at 50 percent. The ideal, Derrington says, is 60 to 80 percent for servers, depending upon the volatility of workloads.

Derrington says that ideal server utilization rates vary widely because of differences in workloads.  However, on the storage side, where there is more predictability, the ideal utilization rate would be between 60 percent and 80 percent.

A full 76 percent of respondents in the survey said they are pursuing a storage virtualization initiative. Such initiatives can pay off big time, says Derrington. For example, a company that could put off buying new storage for a year would next year pay only 40 percent of what the same storage technology would have cost them this year.

"There was a very large financial institution that was only using 12 percent of the storage they had," says Derrington. "They used Veritas Command Central to give them that information. In the last year they've improved their utilization from 12 percent to 41 percent.

"It's about identifying un-utilized asset," Derrington says.

Finally, one in five respondents to the survey says their organization's disaster recovery plan is "inadequate." A full 30 percent of virtual servers were not covered by tier one disaster recovery plans. And 27 percent of the respondents said their disaster recover plans "needed work."

Jessica Davis covers the channel for eWeek and Channel Insider. Her technology journalism career began well before anyone heard of the World Wide Web and has included stints at Infoworld, Electronic News/EDN, and the Philadelphia Business Journal. Her work has also appeared on CNN and She has covered hardware, software and networking, as well as the business side of technology. She has won several journalism awards, including a national ASBPE award for best staff-written column, and was named Marketing Computers hardest working tech journalist on their inaugural list of top tech journalists. Jessica can be reached at


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