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Here are eight storage skills that will top employers' must-have lists in 2008.


2008 will be an exciting, competitive and sometimes confusing time to be a storage professional. It won't be enough to be a great storage tech. As storage becomes more complex and costly, businesses are seeking storage professionals who can architect various tiers of networked storage, document what they've done, and help their business units select the type of storage that best supports their applications' requirements at a price that makes the executive suite smile.

Hiring managers and recruiters say finding candidates who know the ins and outs of storage and have the so-called "soft skills" to talk about business goals instead of just bits and bytes is becoming more difficult. So what type of skills are they looking for? Someone who knows how to design and construct a SAN; knows how to implement and test a disaster recovery (DR) plan; is up to date on the latest Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) best practices; knows how to get business buy-in; has experience with virtualization, deduplication and ediscovery processes; and, most importantly, can talk to nontechnical people in language they can understand.

"It's an incredibly fast-moving field," says Pete Fischer, a 26-year-old storage administrator at International Paper Co. in Memphis. "Three years

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ago, no one was talking about deduplication," adds Fischer, whose team is starting a data deduplication project.

Fischer has been part of the global paper and packaging company's dedicated storage team for the last three years. While there, he earned an MBA from the University of Memphis, a definite plus at a time when recruiters and industry experts say there's a big push for storage professionals who can work closely with business colleagues, and envision storage acquisitions and strategy as part of an overall business model.

"There's a lot of forecasting and a lot of planning when it comes to data protection, and I have been able to apply some of those MBA lessons to my job," says Fischer. "Also, I think it helped me to think globally and understand the company mission."

"Soft skills are one of three fastest growing requests we hear," says Brian Gabrielson, VP at IT placement firm Robert Half Technology headquartered in Menlo Park, CA. (Virtualization and ediscovery are the other two.) "Technology is, a lot of the time, tied to generating revenue," he adds.

Rod Masney, global director of IT infrastructure services at Ohio manufacturing company O-I Inc. (formerly Owens-Illinois Inc.) and chairperson of the Americas' SAP Users' Group (ASUG), agrees: "It's so important that we hire people with business acumen beyond the technologies."

This was first published in February 2008

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