Plugging the power management skills gap

The Chancellor’s recent Spring Budget saw a hefty boost of funds available for new PhD and fellowship positions in STEM projects. This is a welcome move as the UK continues to face a severe STEM skills shortage. Make no mistake that this is also affecting the UK data centre industry.

Eaton’s recent report, conducted in collaboration with analyst house, Freeform Dynamics, revealed that data centre facilities-related outages, resulting from power and cooling, happen more frequently than might be thought. While part of the problem stems from shortcomings in the facilities infrastructure itself, the study also found a problematic skills gap at play.

Skills shortfalls in relation to power management undermine the ability of data centre managers to react quickly and effectively to incidents in this area while inadequate knowledge and expertise are also undoubtedly contributing factors to suboptimal design of data centre power infrastructure.

>See also: What does 2017 have in store for the data centre industry?

So, how can data centre managers ensure they are upskilling the workforce to meet these critical power management demands?

Find the gaps and address them

Skills and knowledge gaps in the data centre environment can open up over time. If a data centre environment was designed quite a few years ago, it is easy to forget that the current infrastructure, tools and techniques in place may be completely inefficient. It’s time to get up to date.

Data centre managers across the UK should work with trusted power management suppliers who can assess the current setup and suggest ways of innovating, improving and modernising.

This can not only remove the headache of updating infrastructure, off a data centre manager’s hands, but can also ensure that the workforce can focus on the new skills and training needed to better manage the new data centre environment.

A question of operator judgement

Data-centre management is a highly-skilled profession. But, the pace and rate of change today often means that an operator’s confidence to respond to situations quickly, is at a low.

Power incident management relies heavily on operator judgement. Our survey of 320 data centre professionals in September 2016 revealed a worrying lack of confidence at present.

>See also: Data dependence: the need for a reliable data centre

51% said they would only be partially confident that they could respond quickly to power related incidents and issues in the data centre. Furthermore, 52% would only be partially confident that they have the necessary level of power-management related skills and expertise.

This skills-related uncertainty has notable implications on the ability to ensure that the data centre environment is well designed from a power management perspective.

It is critical that operators feel that they have the tools, know-how and expertise to deploy power management solutions that can prevent unexpected downtime and add resilience.

Attracting new talent in the low carbon age

There are seismic shifts at play in the UK energy and power sectors. The aftermath of the Paris Climate Change Agreement is still very much felt, with nations across the globe having to take tangible measures to reduce their carbon footprint.

This filters down to all areas of industry – and as some of the most intensive guzzlers of electricity – the data centre industry must adapt to play its part in reducing electricity usage, and in storing power in a streamlined way.

>See also: The small data centres’ renewable journey

This global energy efficiency drive can attract new talent – the brightest minds in the energy and power sectors can deliver crucial skills and expertise that can help data centre managers meet carbon reduction targets, and further the UK’s progression to a low carbon economy.

By working closely with trusted power management suppliers, data centre managers across the UK can truly modernise and ensure they are upskilling their operations team to meet the necessary demands of the low carbon economy.

The key will be in equipping operators with the tools to facilitate a quick and effective response to critical power management demands and doing so sooner rather than later.


Sourced by Marika Sinikari, marketer, data centre and healthcare segments at Eaton

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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