Data Center Infrastructure Trends & Talent Needs

Part 1: Insights from industry expert Peter Kazella

As you modernize, upgrade, and invest in your data center, your team needs skilled technicians and leaders if you want to take full advantage of the new trends and technology available to you. Hiring and retaining people who have the skills and experience to keep pace with the evolution of technology is crucial.

We spoke with industry expert Peter Kazella of Pkaza, a twelve-year veteran Data Center Facilities recruiter, to learn about the most relevant opportunities and challenges on the horizon in data center solutions. In the first of a two-part blog series, we discuss recent innovations, the shortage of specialized talent, and how to find the best people for your data center.

Pkaza’s recruiting niche is staffing for the mission critical facilities market. Pkaza has a focus on the facilities side as it pertains to the power and cooling systems within the data center. This includes engineering design, commissioning, construction, field service, as well as facilities operations of these critical environments that “allows the IT side to operate ceaselessly without experiencing any type of outage.”

Let’s dive into our recent Q&A:

What kind of infrastructure innovations are you seeing your data center clients moving toward?

First off, thank you for the opportunity to discuss hiring needs in the data center industry.

We have been seeing a steady movement of enterprise users migrating towards the colocation / cloud market as the cost of maintaining their data center continues to rise and keeping up with changing technologies is getting more challenging and expensive. It’s easier for companies to realize these technical advances through a data center colocation provider.

A colocations data center is typically able to implement these innovations since their expertise is providing uninterruptible power and cooling and the network infrastructure to send and receive data. Whereas in the enterprise market (companies that own the data center, but the data center is not their primary business), implementing new technologies might be harder to gain traction as the data center supports the primary business of that company. We are also seeing a big play on hyperscale, custom modular builds, with BMS (building management systems) controls taking a bigger part in optimizing cooling and power efficiency.

Describe why you’re seeing an increase in data centers being constructed and going online, yet you’re seeing a shortage of available talent.

The short answer is a supply and demand issue in that our data center clients require professionals that have deep experience with constructing these critical facilities. Building a data center is very unique because of the enormous amount of electrical and cooling equipment that is installed.

This requires someone with expert MEP (Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing) experience and project experience in the 50-500 million dollar range. Since the market requires such specialized talent, where the talent pool is low, it has created a talent vacuum which has driven up the salary levels for candidates in this market.

Most companies realize this and still have trouble sourcing talent since actually finding these candidates, regardless if you are open to paying more, is still hard. This is obviously a good thing if you are a recruiter in my shoes, as this issue keeps my company extremely busy.

You help hire for a variety of data center positions, ranging from field service, CF operations, construction, commissioning, etc. What are some of the infrastructure pain points leading to these hires? What new skills do you look for in new hires?

One of the biggest challenges that the data center industry has to deal with is controlling and monitoring these critical facilities to ensure continuous reliability at a competitive price point. The equipment needed to run the data centers is expensive and products tend not to communicate with each other which is why controls and BMS / BAS Systems are increasingly sought after.

There is not “ERP” or Enterprise Software available that allows companies to monitor and control all their equipment on a single platform as is available on the IT side with products such as SAP – hence the push for Controls and Automation hiring.

Our clients are hiring people with BAS (Building Automation System) or EPMS (Electrical Power Management Systems) expertise. When optimized, these systems can significantly bring down the cost of powering the building. Any cost savings found will contribute to a company’s bottom line.

Conclusion

Panduit would like to thank Peter for taking the time to chat with us and our readers, and to help us see beyond the horizon of this evolving industry. To learn more about the use of both on-premises and hosted data centers, check out our white paper, Optimizing Infrastructure for Hybrid Data Center Strategies.

There’s certainly a lot to consider when finding the right talent for your growing business, and we hope that Peter’s insights helped you to better understand what your next move should be. Join us next time with Peter when we discuss what it takes to go live and new opportunities and challenges.

Thanks for checking out our new expert Q&A series. Follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook or sign up for Panduit’s mailing list to get alerted when our next conversation with an expert goes live.

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