Where’s Jack?

— 15 August 2015

Given that most downtime is due to human error, whether poor design, faulty construction, poor operation or just bad management, we have a mountain of a job to do to turn this around. It’s still, of course, a relatively new industry. The word datacenter didn’t even come into general use until around 15 years ago. But that should have given us a reason to build a professional structure from day one. Datacenter people are different. Good ones are a rare breed of part IT, part mechanical, part electrical, part BMS systems and part construction. Oh, add fire detection, fire prevention, security etc. But while the old saying “Jack of all trades, master of none” is true, it’s often easier to find the mechanical or electrical masters than the Jacks we really need. Even better if Jack has been working for many years in different datacenters in different geographical locations. But these Jacks are few and far between. So we’re left with proper datacenter training and education. And formal, structured and universally recognised to boot. We all have to learn to drive a car and learn the rules of the road AND pass a test before we’re allowed to drive a car on the road. And what if we want to learn to fly? But we don’t need any formal training to run a mission-critical facility. So what about apprenticeships? The A-level examination debate and mad rush to get into universities in the UK has prompted David Cameron and his government to launch a new initiative to create 100,000 places to build “family and social stability”. Why wouldn’t this work for some jobs in the datacenter industry? And while we’re on the subject of jobs, a quick look at datacenter jobs advertised on myriads of disparate websites reveals the clear absence of any structure to job titles, job descriptions etc. It wouldn’t take you long to get to the 200-mark in job titles bandied around.

So, plenty of work to do here then.