Feature

Storage staffing shortage looms

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Storage professionals have heard plenty about the skills and staffing shortage plaguing the industry. But how bad is it? According to EMC, it's worse than you thought.

A recent EMC study predicts the global storage industry will be a whopping 1 million workers short by 2012. If that number seems high, Alok Shrivastava acknowledges "it's only approximate."

Shrivastava, EMC's director of educational services, knows a healthy cynicism surrounds any vendor-issued number related to industry demands. But the problem in determining and predicting an accurate storage skills shortage is that "no one has these numbers," he says.

"No one is tracking storage jobs," he says. "They do track networking, database and operating systems, but not storage on its own." So Shrivastava, when trying to find numerical data to back up front-line reports from customers, settled on U.S. Department of Labor statistics as they relate to systems jobs. EMC then tried to guess what percentage of those jobs could reasonably be expected to be dedicated to storage. "Typically, in a customer environment, one in five people are focused on storage,'' explains Shrivastava. Depending on how you do the math, he says, the final number could be even higher than 1 million. Then again, it could be less. The bottom line is that while no one knows for sure, says Shrivastava, no one is disputing the staffing need.

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In response to the shortage, EMC's Academic Alliance program has become active in seven countries (Brazil, China, India, Ireland, Mexico, Russia and the U.S.). To date, more than 4,000 students have completed or registered for the storage technology curriculum, which isn't restricted to EMC products.

"The overall explosion--basically a new appreciation for storage technologies and the way it's tied to business--that is something the IT industry has to look at very seriously," says Shrivastava. (For more on staffing, see "Hot storage skills".)

--Ellen O'Brien

This was first published in February 2008

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