Answers for the IT Skills Gap

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Read more about author Eric Herzog.

Consider these statistics: 75% of IT decision-makers have reported gaps in the skill sets of their IT staff – and this is a 145% increase over the past seven years, reported Skillsoft. Six in 10 large enterprises reported a skills gap, according to the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA). 

Globally, the shortage of qualified IT professionals was estimated at 3.5 million people at the end of 2023, as cited by AG5 software, a skills gap expertise organization. The cybersecurity skills gap is particularly concerning. CompTIA mentioned that eight in 10 IT and business executives are at least “somewhat concerned” with the IT skills gap at their companies. One-quarter (25%) are “very concerned.”

It’s well-documented that the global IT skills gap not only exists, but it is also widening at a pace that has many CIOs, CTOs, CISOs and other IT hiring managers falling regrettably into a “fret it and can’t forget it” mindset. With fewer and fewer qualified personnel, this gap is creating real challenges to manage the data infrastructure, encompassing all aspects of IT from cybersecurity, networks, and servers to containerized applications and enterprise storage.

However, there are solid answers on the storage front to address the IT skills gap – things you won’t hear anywhere else. But first, it’s important to define and understand the underlying problems that are exacerbating this gap.

For those of you trapped in the “fret it and can’t forget it” approach to the IT skills gap, the answers to the questions about professional IT skills involve a mix of system-level solutions, smart data center consolidation, a software play, and new training.  

The Technology Bridge

One effective strategy is to deploy autonomous automation into your enterprise storage infrastructure, so it reduces the level of complexity, thereby decreasing the dependence on specialized IT skills that are becoming harder to find. With the power of autonomous automation, an admin can manage petabytes of storage easily and cost effectively. 

For example, a global Fortune 500 customer in Europe went from 15 people managing >75 petabytes of storage to only four people managing with the switch to Infinidat. That capacity has actually grown to almost 100 petabytes – still with only four storage administrators. 

A complementary strategy is to automate the technical support process through Artificial Intelligence for IT Operations (AIOps). AIOps supports scalable, multi-petabyte storage-as-a-service (STaaS) solutions, enabling enterprises to simplify and centralize IT operations and improve cost management. 

The flexibility of capacity and workloads are better managed, powering an increased pace of innovation and supporting digital transformation. AIOps is a dynamic way to simplify IT operations, reduce administrative overhead, and add a predictive layer onto the data infrastructure ‒ all without disruption or compromise.

A third strategy for shortening the gap is through storage consolidation. We have a $20 billion enterprise customer that went from 27 storage arrays from three different vendors to only four arrays. A Fortune 100 customer dramatically reduced their storage infrastructure, going from 450 floor tiles to only 50 floor tiles running all the same applications and workloads. This consolidation had many benefits, but one of the key ones was reducing the need for IT manpower. You don’t need such high-level skills with years of experience when the need for IT resources has been streamlined. 

Simultaneously, you reduce IT expenditures – both CAPEX and OPEX. This money can then be redirected to other things, such as AI development projects or training existing IT staff on new skills that will be in demand in the near-term and long-term future. 

In addition, having larger capacity in the same physical footprint of an enterprise storage system reduces the administrative burden. The implication is that you can do more with fewer IT professionals. Your ROI on the IT infrastructure will shoot up.

The Human Factor

IT solution providers, who sell enterprise storage solutions as part of broader data center solutions, are in an ideal position to help fill the gap for our enterprise customers. They have the high levels of IT skills that enterprise customers are seeking. Furthermore, cloud service providers, managed service providers, and managed hosting providers have the skills that are packaged as easy-to-buy services. 

Enterprises should outsource certain functions and tasks to these external partners. All IT skills don’t have to be in-house anymore. You can harness the skills of local integrators, consultants, and technical experts. 

Enterprises can tap into technical advisors (TAs) and professional services as a means to fill in aspects of the IT skills gap. You don’t have to worry that you may not have the high-experience, storage-centric gurus who were once required to run the storage infrastructure. Access to this expertise enables TAs and professional services teams to become an extension of your IT team. 

A training program for partners is also important. It’s particularly valuable for those who diligently work to fill the IT skills gap for enterprises. Training programs are designed to keep the skills of IT professionals, ranging from sales consultants to technical personnel, up to date. These professionals can manage storage for enterprises as well as modernize storage. 

All of these strategies are viable to address the IT skills gap. Ultimately, in a reversal from the “fret it and can’t forget it” mindset, you can instead embrace a highly desirable “set it and forget it” approach.