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Planning is a skill

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It’s all very well, planning our future in the cloud, but there is one thing worrying me at the moment – our international skills shortage. So while corporate IT spending is still on the up-and-up, the number of people who can do the job is not.

Most analysts agree that in the next two years, the burgeoning number of new data center technologies - from the much-anticipated renaissance of data center infrastructure management (DCIM) to the spread of software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV) - will mean that the IT technical workforce in the USA alone will need to expand by 50 percent by 2016 just to keep pace.

If you look at the skills wars that took place in San Francisco in 2006 - 2009 between Google, Apple, Intel, Adobe and others, which just ended in a $415m settlement, it is obvious that globally we are not producing enough skilled people. You can say it is merely the operation of the market economy but since this particular battle erupted, the poaching frenzy amongst the worl’s largest IT companies has reached new levels.

Competition for jobs is so intense that Silicon Valley employers now tempt top programmers with huge signing bonuses: for example, Apple is reportedly offering $250,000 to Tesla staff prepared to jump ship. When I was in the Valley two months ago, I was told that Oracle was offering some rival staff signing bonuses of up to $1,000,000. Severe skills shortages are indeed bad for employers.

We need to take a leaf out of the German education system which is carefully structured to ensure that children are given the education which they need both as individuals and as members of a larger society. This means that there is an element of planning which allows education professionals to work with the government to ensure that German society can avoid major skills shortages.

In the recent Cisco Global Cloud Index Study, 60 percent of data center operators said that lack of qualified staff was one of the major issues they face.

The free market is fine – but even Margaret Thatcher eventually came to the conclusion that The Chicago Boys allowed the market too much freedom – we need elements of planning and the present skills shortage is showing us that.

This article appeared in the September 2015 issue of DatacenterDynamics magazine

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