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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Viewpoint: How the role of data centre engineer has evolved | IDG Connect

Photo: Andrew Roughan
Kathryn Cave, Editor at IDG Connect catch-up with Andrew Roughan, Business Development Director at IO UK on the evolving role of the data centre engineer.

For a recent piece on the evolving role of the engineer, I caught up with a variety of different professionals who shared their professional insight from a number of perspectives. One of these was Andrew Roughan, Business Development Director at IO UK, who has some interesting things to say about data centre engineers, but which, in the end, didn’t really fit with the rest of the piece.

Photo: IDG Connect
So, I’ve included some of his views blow.  

How has the role of the data centre engineer evolved?
As the co-location industry has emerged since the late 1990’s the role of a data centre engineer has changed significantly. Initially, engineering resources consisted of facilities management with a clearly defined boundary at the data hall’s mechanical and electrical solutions.

In the last five years, as enterprise adoption of virtualisation has become more prevalent, the role of both the data centre and the engineering function has had to evolve. The data centre is a virtual asset today, one of many that an enterprise will interact with. As a result there is a demand from end users for co-location facilities to become ‘dark’.

This means that after selection, the end user may never physically visit the data centre. This requires the customer to have access to 24*7 skilled engineering resources that can act under direction. The data centre engineer role has evolved from facility management and uptime, to offering a full service where the data centre is an on demand extension of the end user’s IT team.

What does this mean for training and education?
This shift in roles and responsibilities poses a challenge of skills acquisition. The facilities role still exists, but now a data centre needs to acquire networking and IT skills. Typically, this means more employees and a broader breadth of talent. This makes it quite a task to cover a 24*7 shift.

Recruitment needs to be anchored by a very clear job description. Effective induction and in-life training are paramount to ensure that the customer’s assets can be trusted in the hands of the data centre operator. Employees now tend to come from Enterprise IT and Managed Service Providers. Moreover, these engineers are often exposed to direct, first-line contact with the customer. This brings a skill and competency which was less prevalent in the facilities role.

Source: IDG Connect

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