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Industry analysts estimate that 55% of IT workers with mainframe and enterprise data center skills are over the age of 50. And as many of these professionals prepare to retire over the next several years, many companies could face a shortage of workers with expertise in legacy systems and data centers.
To help address a possible impending skills shortage, AFCOM Data Center Institute, an industry association of IT executives and vendors, is launching a new program to help companies train younger IT staffers, as well as utilize products and services that can help control and manage mainframes and data centers with fewer experts.
Among the specific key skills that could be lacking in many companies during the next five to seven years are change management, continuity planning, and process and facilities management, says Brian Koma, AFCOM's VP of marketing. "Organizations must plan now to avoid a shortage of mission-critical skills. This shortage isn't in the short term, but will happen in the next several years," he says.
AFCOM's new Data Center Knowledge Initiative provides a three-pronged repository of training, technologies, and management practices "to help propagate mainframe and enterprise data center skills among younger IT workers," says Koma.
To train younger workers, AFCOM has created a new relationship with Marist College's Institute for Data Center Professionals, which will offer accredited data center courses to AFCOM's members via the Internet, as well as hands-on workshops at AFCOM's data center conferences twice annually. In general, most computer-science students today don't receive training in mainframe and enterprise data center technologies, says Roger Norton, dean of Marist's computer-science and mathematics department.
To address management practices, AFCOM is compiling the best practices of data center manager members and will make that information available though a Web-based resource center.
To tackle the shortage with help from technology products and services, the Data Center Knowledge Initiative also includes vendor participants such as ASG Software Solutions, BMC Software, Cybermation, and Imation. Among the offerings of those vendors are products to enable wireless mainframe administration, as well as management of applications, data, security, infrastructure, and production.