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Evolving skill sets
When storage administration lead David Dulek began working at Fastenal Co. Purchasing, a Winona, MN-based manufacturer and distributor of construction supplies, no one was talking about Fibre Channel over IP (FCIP). A decade later, networking interoperability skills are all the rage, he says. "We're looking at extending our SAN to a data center in Indiana," he says. Dulek's team helped buy the equipment going into the Indianapolis site. "On our end, we're doing the FCIP and learning on the job about the interoperability between the storage and networking group," he notes.

When Steve Davidek arrived as the computer operator for the City of Sparks, NV, nightly backups took about two hours, and he worked on a single Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co. HP3000 server with 256KB of memory, four 120MB disk packs and tapes for backup. That was 23 years ago; Davidek is now operations and systems administrator for the City of Sparks, and part of a 12-member IT team that oversees a dedicated SAN with two HP EVA arrays in separate locations and approximately 20TB of storage. They also have 39 servers (15 physical and 24 virtual). In the last five years, new virtualization, as well as DR and ediscovery tools and strategies have dominated his work.

"In the last five years, ediscovery has become a nightmare for us," says Davidek, who's also a member of the board of directors

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for Encompass, HP's 15,000-member IT user group. "I say it's a nightmare because it's not easy to do email discovery and document discovery, and it's usually for a legal case and they usually need it yesterday." The city has been exploring and testing ediscovery software products to automate and simplify this process. Says Davidek: "The question is where do you keep it and how long do you keep it?"

Storage virtualization experience is the new tiebreaker for storage jobs, according to some IT recruiters. "I just had one guy, a good candidate, who simply didn't have enough virtualization experience," says Jason Wilson, a resource development manager at Modis, an IT staffing firm headquartered in Atlanta.

"A lot of companies are keen to have [people with] experience working with VMware," states Aidan Newman, who specializes in storage placements at Foton IT Recruitment Ltd. in the U.K. "A year ago, they didn't really care and now they're asking for it."

Virtualization is on Harold Shapiro's hot skills list, too. As director and technology architect, management information services at Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., Shapiro says that knowledge of data deduplication is also vital. Storage pros "need to understand what data deduplication is and master it now," he adds.

This was first published in February 2008

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