Edge centers will have to be managed by largely non-specialist staff as micro data centers are rolled out across the world. While air-conditioning engineers and electricians will make it through the door, the economics of running Edge data centers will mean that data center specialists – such as storage experts or qualified Linux engineers – won’t be employed on-site

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Edge data centers might not have all the staff they need on site – Gerd Altmann, Pixabay

As a result, the air con engineer and electrician will also be required to perform an array of data center management roles alongside keeping the cooling systems and power up and running.

That’s the warning of SoftIron CMO Andrew Moloney, presenting in the recent DCD>Building the Edge virtual event, now available to view online, on-demand.

“I was talking to a micro data center company recently. They said that the only available skills they could guarantee at an Edge location were an air-conditioning engineer and an electrician. Those are not the kind of people who are going to be skilled enough to be able to take an open-source-based, complex storage environment and do a lot of administration and support,” said Moloney.

He continued: “So we need to think through that in the way that we architect the management. We can’t just think about this as software alone. If we believe that part of the challenge cannot be solved in software alone we need to think through some of the practical implications that we’re going to find in Edge infrastructure.”

Just examining how storage management will function reveals the scale of the challenge, believes Moloney.

“When you look at the total operational challenge of building out storage infrastructure, you see very quickly that a huge amount of it - maybe 75 percent or so - is actually about people. It's about tuning and optimization, recruiting and training experts. It's about administration time and cost.

“If we are thinking now about Edge infrastructure, that's an incredibly difficult challenge to try and solve. If, instead of one location, you’re talking about 100 locations, you have all these operational challenges, which are about people. But can I really have 100 people in 100 locations to be able to do this?

“Of course, the answer is no. We can't afford to have 100 people in 100 locations on the off chance that the storage needs a tweak. And if we think about it more broadly, globally, we're in a digital skills crisis. Finding skilled people is incredibly difficult,” said Moloney.

And that skills crisis holds true across the world, and it’s only going to become more acute, Moloney warned.

“When you boil all of that down, we believe that means we need to optimize the use of our best people, we need to use them for the most skilled tasks, we need to place them at the most optimal locations. And that is not going to be out of the 100 Edge infrastructure sites,” he added.

For more, stream the full presentation on-demand: