Data center skills discussion sparks debate

With a shortfall of available IT jobs, recent discussion regarding a trend toward in today's data centers caused many high-tech professionals to cringe, as veterans claim a lack of knowledge will ultimately hurt IT organizations.

Data center managers speaking on a panel at Interop Las Vegas 2009 that they look for energetic, passionate and eager-to-learn candidates to fill current positions – rather than IT professionals with specialized skills. Among the reasons cited by the two panelists were a greater need for a broad set of skills, including facilities and IT know-how, and business acumen.

Tim McLaine, global functional manager for data center services at Perot Systems said: "The majority of people we bring in are entry-level and I don't care if they have data center or tactical experience. I more look for behavioral traits, such as enthusiasm, passion and energy because we can teach technical skills very easily. The deep technical experience from the past might not be applicable in our data center now.”

to statements like that online with mixed feelings. Some said it's expected that many skills can be taught on the job -- but only if the candidate has a good technical foundation. Others felt the lack of specialized skills could hinder data center operations.

"Specific skills can be taught and learned right on the job, but this is provided that the candidate [already] has a solid and broad base of skills," one reader commented. "You can make anyone a specific specialist after a few years on the job and a bunch of courses in a specific area (for example, a Microsoft network administrator), but this does not mean that that person suddenly became an IT professional."