Infrastructure Talent Needs for Cutting-Edge Data Centers

Part 2: Insights from industry expert Peter Kazella

In the second of our two-part blog series with industry expert Peter Kazella of Pkaza, a 12-year Data Center Facilities recruiter, we discuss what it takes to go live with a newly built data center and what to look out for when building your team in an ultra-tight market. 

As more data centers are getting constructed and going online, what staffing needs contribute to going live?

Having the right team on board including partnering with the right vendors is crucial as you need a team who is constantly staying current as new technology is introduced.

Right now for Pkaza, one of our highest demand jobs is that of the Commissioning Agent. It is their job to test the many mechanical (HVAC), electrical, and building controls systems of the data center to make sure they are operating to specs before the data center goes live. Many data center operators (i.e. end users), will contract third party commissioning firms with electrical, mechanical, and controls engineering expertise to test and inspect these systems to make sure they operate and perform to spec. before they flip the “On” switch.

They will test the backup power system equipment like generators and uninterruptible power supplies (UPS’s) as well as the components that make up the massive cooling systems like the computer room air conditioning units (CRAC), chillers and cooling towers.

Many of these professionals are degreed mechanical and electrical engineers, but don’t have to be.

Very bright and experienced power and cooling technicians with expertise in equipment repair and maintenance are very good candidates for these rolls. Military veterans from the Navy’s Nuclear Engineering program (EMN’s, ETN’s and MMN’s are the most sought after) or any other branch that supports power generation are typically solid candidates post active duty.

Their background in a critical environment that revolves around stringent operational procedures is a good match for these roles. Besides the expertise that is needed for this job, a large amount of travel is required for this role which makes it a challenge to find the right people.

Many data centers will also start to hire their facility operations teams during this process. These are the managers and critical facilities technicians that will be monitoring and maintaining the equipment (electrical, mechanical, and controls) once the data center is up and running.

By observing the commissioning process, these technicians will have a deeper understanding of the procedures needed to keep the equipment running and what to do in the unlikely event of equipment failure. These techs are also able to give suggestions on equipment if they observe issues in the initial startup phase. They create the MOPs and SOPs to maintain and operate the equipment which is a very important part of being a commissioning agent as well.

What potential challenges and opportunities exist for data centers looking to hire as their infrastructure modernizes?

Having the right team on board including partnering with the right vendors is crucial as you need a team who is constantly staying current as new technology is introduced.

The data center industry has a shortage of specialized training / education programs that focuses on the data center market. Over the last 15 years or so, many training and educational programs have been developed to offer content with a focus on data center management. Some examples are The Marist College Institute for Data Center Professionals (IDCP) that was founded in 2004 and offers a college-level accredited education designed specifically for those who wish to advance their data center careers. It’s a 100% online learning program and includes important areas like cybersecurity and data center infrastructure. Another recognized program is Uptime Institute’s Accredited Tier Design program for licensed professional engineers. We also like what we are seeing with a brand new data center educational program called CMCO (Certified Mission Critical Operator). This is the core curriculum being used at North Virginia Community College and other community colleges and universities. This new degreed program offering is called Engineering Technology: Data Center Operations Specialization.

Attending data center industry events like DCD, AFCOM’s Data Center World or 7×24 Exchange Conference is also a great way to stay current with new technology that is constantly evolving. These events offer the opportunity to discuss changes in the industry with peers and the chance to see firsthand, the new technologies developed by manufacturers that support our industry. Otherwise, the opportunity exists with companies such as Pkaza that specialize in placing these types of data center experts with vendors and colocation providers for both full time or consulting for the critical facilities industry.

Conclusion

A big thank you again to Peter Kazella for all his insight on current trends and keeping us informed on what look for in the future. At Panduit, we know that redundancy in electrical power components and cooling backups are the core of reliability for data center. For more information about improving your operation through wireless monitoring, check out our white paper, Improved Reliability Through Wireless Monitoring and Control.

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.

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.

Panduit Acquires SynapSense – A Leader in Wireless Monitoring and Cooling Optimization

DCIM and cooling solutions help Data Centers save up to 50% of cooling energy costs while providing comprehensive capacity management, that being said, Panduit has recently acquired SynapSense Corporation located in Folsom, CA specializing in thermal risk management and cooling energy savings for large enterprise, colocation, and cloud computing service providers. The SynapSense data center solution consists of a unique and highly-reliable secure wireless mesh networking technology, airflow optimization services, and manual or automated cooling control.

“The SynapSense team has a proven track record of success, helping data center managers reduce energy costs, unlock stranded capacity, and sustain savings over time. This has resulted in strong, trusted partner relationships with leaders in the banking, ISP / hosting, retail, corporate and government sectors,” said Tom Donovan, President & COO, Panduit Corp. “SynapSense is a service-oriented technology company that will bring tremendous value to our customers.”

Continue reading