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Based on interviews with storage professionals, industry analysts, recruiters and hiring managers, backup and DR ranked second on our list of in-demand storage skills. Business acumen ranked a close third. Then two of the hottest new technologies in data centers--virtualization and data deduplication--rounded out the top five skills. Security (data protection), ediscovery and ITIL best practices completed the list, respectively.

It's unlikely you'll find a storage professional whose work has allowed them to get knee-deep into all of those technologies and tools. Hiring managers know this and instead look for a candidate who has shown a capacity for understanding storage as part of a larger corporate framework and is able to strive for efficiency in their day-to-day tasks while planning for growth and new business demands.

Ken Gehring, data center manager at Alberta Finance, where he's on assignment from CGI, a Canadian IT services company, says the most important SAN skill in today's complex environments is intellectual curiosity. Without it "you are never going to be able to move ahead." Gehring adds that CGI's most recent hire didn't have a long list of SAN skills. "He's actually a Windows person. But he's like a sponge. Feed him information and he'll soak it up."

"Long-range vision" is on Beth Cohen's must-have skills list. As director of technology operations at Broadleaf

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Services, a VAR and services provider specializing in virtualization and data protection for small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), she says that "there are a lot of people who can install EMC systems, but they don't understand the complexity of how the storage fits into someone's infrastructure ... when I hire people and I see a certification, all that really tells me is that they have passed the exam."


The importance of documentation
Documentation is a skill so fundamental and obvious that many storage professionals fail to emphasize these skills on their resumes, ignoring their importance while playing up cutting-edge experience instead. Documentation skills--logging and recording changes to storage systems and the steps taken to make them--are highly valued by hiring managers.

"I hear about good documentation for storage all the time," says Brian Gabrielson, a VP at Robert Half Technology, an IT staffing firm based in Menlo Park, CA. "I can't tell you how many times I have heard from a client 'I brought in a contractor; he did a bunch of work and left, and now I can't figure out what he did.' You better be able to document your work so that others can understand it."

"I think documentation is one of those things that can be taken for granted, but really is needed for success," says Ken Gehring, the data center manager at Alberta Finance, where he's on assignment from CGI, a Canadian IT services company. "Without good documentation, you spend too much time trying to figure out what was done, rather than working on what should be done."

This was first published in February 2008

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