How to solve the IT Skills Gap in Enterprise Storage

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Managing the IT skills gap

Day after day we hear reports about the IT Skills Gap. Hitting all aspects of IT, the hunt for valuable human resources to execute IT plans of CIOs, CTOs, CISOs and other IT hiring managers has become incredibly onerous. 

The IT Skills Gap is widening at such an accelerated pace that many enterprises are falling, regrettably, into a “fret it and can’t forget it” mindset.

With fewer and fewer qualified personnel and potential candidates for open positions, this gap is creating real challenges to managing data infrastructure, encompassing all aspects of IT from cybersecurity, networks, and servers to containerised 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.

Look at the numbers. 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, according to Skillsoft Research. The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) reported that six out of 10 large enterprises face a skills gap.

Globally, at the end of 2023 the shortage of qualified IT professionals was estimated at 3.5 million people, as cited by AG5 software, a skills gap expert organisation.

The cybersecurity skills gap is particularly concerning. As CompTIA mentioned, 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.

For those of you trapped in the “fret it and can’t forget it” approach to the IT skills gap, some very effective solutions are available. Our company recommends a different approach, coupled with a set of strategies on how to bridge the gap.

We believe the answers to the questions about professional IT skills involve a mix of system-level solutions, smart data centre consolidation, the right software and new training approaches.

The Technology Bridge

One effective strategy is to deploy autonomous automation into your storage infrastructure, reducing the level of complexity and decreasing the dependence on specialised IT skills that are becoming harder and harder to find. With the power of autonomous automation, an admin can manage PBs and PBs of storage easily and cost-effectively.

For example, one of our global Fortune 500 customers in Europe went from 15 people managing >75PBs of storage to only four people responsible for managing storage. In fact, their capacity has actually grown to almost 100PB – still with only four storage administrators, while the other 11 were assigned to other important IT projects.

Thanks to the use of advanced and patented Neural Cache capabilities, we have several public references who report not having touched their storage systems in three or four years. The system can automatically configure itself. It automatically adjusts to changes in performance and new apps. Performance levels are optimised on an ongoing basis autonomously and the storage admin doesn’t even need to click a button.

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 centralise their 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.

Neural Cache is a great example of AIOps technology, which provides deep learning capabilities. The longer the Neural Cache runs, the smarter it gets about its current and new workloads. It's as if Neural Cache can be your newest contributor to IT operations. It redefines and reshapes "IT skills." Over time, the simplicity that this level of system operation brings means enterprises can redeploy their resources to more productive IT activities.

A third strategy for shortening the gap is through storage consolidation. Consider this example, of a £17 billion enterprise customer that went from 27 storage arrays from three different vendors to only four arrays.

A Fortune 100 customer also reduced their storage infrastructure 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 can 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.

According to a study conducted by IDC and published in a recent white paper, the average productivity of storage infrastructure teams increased 48% along with 51% more efficient overall storage management teams. This quantification highlights the key value proposition − simplified management.

Participants in the study reported that storage infrastructure teams were able to take advantage of streamlined and user-friendly storage management features to improve productivity. These improvements translated into average annual salary savings in excess of £200,000 for each organisation.

The Human Factor

Channel partners are in an ideal position to help fill the gap for enterprises because they have the high levels of IT skills that enterprise customers are seeking.

Furthermore, cloud service provider partners, managed service provider partners, and managed hosting provider partners have essential 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, it is possible to harness the skills of local integrators, consultants, and technical experts.

All that has been outlined in this article can help you to optimise the way your organisation manages enterprise storage. By finding ways to make the most of IT resources you can change the equation for IT skills going forward.

Rather than struggle with a “fret it and can’t forget it” mindset, why not adopt a more relaxed, “set it and forget it” approach, taking advantage of advanced solutions available today.

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