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Half of All Data Centers Understaffed

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the they-just-need-one-uriah dept.

Networking 211

alphadogg writes "Fifty percent of IT executives say their data centers are understaffed, and companies are still looking for more ways to cut costs, according to Symantec's latest 'State of the Data Center' report. Sixteen percent of survey respondents said their data centers are extremely understaffed, and another 34% called their data centers somewhat understaffed. At the same time, data centers are becoming more complex and harder to manage, with more applications, data and increasingly demanding service-level agreements. 'Data center complexity has led to a lot of staffing challenges,' says Sean Derrington, director of storage management and high availability at Symantec."

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Th e other half (5, Funny)

ascari (1400977) | more than 4 years ago | (#30722342)

And the other half runs Linux!

Re:Th e other half (5, Interesting)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 4 years ago | (#30723366)

Laugh all you want, but there's a kernel of truth in that. All the *nix servers in my care mostly run on autopilot, and I pop in only once in awhile to check up on them, change/enter something in BIND, occasionally patch the ESX machinery, or put in the occasional patch that yum or ports can't get out of a repo (e.g. our custom help desk site software).

OTOH, a huge chunk of time is spent in Exchange and SharePoint - mostly chasing down errant mails, or fixing bugs and glitches. To be fair, those two bits are customer-facing, thus more open to calls - but even still, so is our help desk site (which runs on Linux), and I rarely have to bother with that on the back-end. Also, I've run pure *nix email setups before, and it never ate as much time percentage-wise as Exchange does now - even when chasing bounces.

On average, the 'doze servers eat about 95% of my time, but they comprise only 60% of the population.

Nota Bene: One thing I've found to be awesome - get up a script that sends a copy of your Exchange logs to another box... that way you're not fighting store.exe for RAM when you want to parse through them, and you can use a real text editor (vi or EMACS - you pick) to read them.

Re:Th e other half (2, Interesting)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 4 years ago | (#30724226)

Nota Bene: One thing I've found to be awesome - get up a script that sends a copy of your Exchange logs to another box... that way you're not fighting store.exe for RAM when you want to parse through them, and you can use a real text editor (vi or EMACS - you pick) to read them.

We grab the Exchange logs off the box every 15 minutes and shove them into Postgresql. We can then use a PHP interface to view them. Very nice compared to notepad on the Exchange box.

Re:The other half (2, Insightful)

Geoff-with-a-G (762688) | more than 4 years ago | (#30724302)

Server OS is not the only thing in the datacenter that needs staffing. Facilities work (cabling, power, cooling, etc), SAN, Network infrastructure, and that's without even getting into the middleware or applications themselves.

Even if your base servers administered themselves, it still takes quite a staff to actually do something with those servers.

Re:Th e other half (4, Interesting)

ka8zrt (1380339) | more than 4 years ago | (#30723410)

-1 or more about not thinking this through though. (and not funny at all)

As someone who has until recently done research in data centers and their operations, and personally dealt with the *NIX side of *NIX vs. NT years ago, I know the reality as opposed to the half-thought-out dreams some have. Yes, *NIX makes it much simpler to manage a machine, and increase the (servers/admin) ratio, among others, but it is not a solution which scales to where one person can administer 10K servers. As you add servers and applications, that ratio will reach a limit where you have to add yet another admin (operational, network, hardware, etc.). And should that site not be willing to do so, you end up with one of those "understaffed" data centers. Where that point is reached depends on a multitude of factors, including the behaviour of those using the data center (stupid developers, hands on users or workload characteristics cause that point to be reached sooner), the applications (a bunch of database servers will likely reach it before an equivalent amount of web servers), the amount of storage on those servers, and even the individual admins and how they are organized themselves. Throw in things like buying the cheapest hardware, or buying bleeding edge hardware (say 1.5TB drives when they first come out, or 10Gb ethernet cards), and it gets even worse as you try to deal with first generation drives failing or buggy drivers.

Can two people administer 500+ servers with 1.5PB of storage? I know personally that it is possible. But to do it and keep everyone 100% happy? No. And that precludes things like having people who are hard to satisfy, having to backup all that data, running it in a non-university production environment, etc. When I left CompuServe in 1997, the numbers were far different, with IIRC 25-30 operators of varying skill levels, about 10 of us in admin positions (who were called upon by the operators when they could not handle something), and around half a dozen or so network and hardware folks. Total number of servers? Around 1200 running BSD/OS, and around another 1000 running either our proprietary OS on systems which came out of the DecSystem 20 designs, or systems running a specialized NT 3.51 load, and perhaps a total data storage of around 1.5TB. And things were simplified by things such as having dozens of machines which were identical handling application X. Of course, we also had 3 data centers, and did backups of at least one of each machine in a given group. And then there is the fact that some applications required the developers to administer the application itself.

And looking forward... There were no regular 12 hour shifts at either of these. Yes, I was on call darn near 24*365 (I got vacation time off at my latest employer, but at CSI, I was on call even during vacation, and averaged 80hrs/week at the end). But when the fecal material hit the fan, and we had unusual problems like a computer room flooding or a critical server failing... it was possible to have to put in a 24 hour shift. Such is the life of a senior systems engineer in an operations group, which is one reason I try to avoid positions like these.

What a Shocker (1)

Xeleema (453073) | more than 4 years ago | (#30722388)

Seems like only supervillians have fully-staffed datacenters these days...hopefully Dethklok can turn that trend around.

Re:What a Shocker (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#30723028)

How? By killing off half their staff in the most accidentally brutal manner possible?

Re:What a Shocker (1)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#30724258)

Pretty sure Dethklok qualifies as "accidental supervillains".

Yes, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30722418)

are they half full or half empty?

More Jobs Then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30722422)

I wish that this report would mean more data center jobs becoming available!

I can only wish... :(

In other news... (4, Funny)

HBI (604924) | more than 4 years ago | (#30722470)

50% of all datacenter operators lie about their staffing levels.

Re:In other news... (4, Funny)

halcyon1234 (834388) | more than 4 years ago | (#30722622)

50% of all datacenter operators lie about their staffing levels.

The other 50% didn't return calls in time to be included in the survey.

Re:In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30723600)

The other 50% didn't return calls in time to be included in the survey.

They were to busy covering the first half's shift.

Re:In other news... (1)

barzok (26681) | more than 4 years ago | (#30723664)

The other 50% didn't return calls in time to be included in the survey.

Because they were too busy trying to fix too many problems with too few staffers on hand.

Re:In other news... (3, Insightful)

INT_QRK (1043164) | more than 4 years ago | (#30723392)

The problem is that staffing levels are very often highly subjective. For most concerns, the complaint of being "under staffed" only indicates that the current staff feels overworked, a condition almost universal in all sectors of a healthy, i.e., growing, organization. For the ISO 9000-ish (or ITIL?) crowd, under staffed might mean that some formal document published a desired level at some specific point in time, the best against a workload study, and industry rules of thumb. But, since every such study measures a specific point in time, they become out of date, often obsolete by the time full staffing achieved. So, "fully staffed" is ever elusive, and this applies to every sector. We're all Bozos on this bus. In fact, any staff that's manned to the point that they're not feeling some pain risks being seen as over staffed, and a target for reallocation or cuts. Sorry to put a damper on any delicious feelings of workforce martyrdom. People also get mad at me when I point out that, by definition, nearly half of the population ranks below mean intelligence.

Re:In other news... (1)

andymadigan (792996) | more than 4 years ago | (#30724322)

" People also get mad at me when I point out that, by definition, nearly half of the population ranks below mean "

That's because you're wrong, nearly half ranks below the median, that doesn't mean nearly half ranks below the mean. If you rank intelligence from 1 to 10, and you have 10 people with a rank of 1 and 2 people with a rank of 10, you get an average of (30/11)=2.72. It actually doesn't matter what the number is, by definition half would not be below the mean.

Now, it may well be that half the population is below average intelligence, but that isn't the definition.

Note: I'm avoiding IQ here because that is actually adjusted based on intelligence of the population.

Re:In other news... (1)

kiehlster (844523) | more than 4 years ago | (#30723564)

Hey it's true. My hosting provider, during a facility migration, told me at first that they couldn't support my server (in the old facility) because the admins were busy with other tickets that preceded mine. I found out later through poking and prodding at phone support that they had one, yes, ONE system administrator handling all of their support operations at the old facility while the rest of their staff was reassigned to server migration tasks. The reason they couldn't get to my support ticket was because the guy lived on the east coast and was asleep at the time.

12 hour shiths are not the ansaser (4, Insightful)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30722498)

12 hour shifts are not the answer as well makeing people work every weekend holiday night while the boss / PHB never does any of that.

Whatever. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30722866)

12 hour shifts are not the answer as well makeing people work every weekend holiday night while the boss / PHB never does any of that.

Don't like it, find another job.

Then, I'll jump in and take it. I would love to have that job.

Of course, one day, all of that will be automated and they're will be just one guy with a GED to make sure everything is plugged in but, before that it will be sent to cheap countries.

In the meantime, get on your knees every morning and thank your personal god that you have a job.

Re:Whatever. (4, Insightful)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 4 years ago | (#30722998)

In the meantime, get on your knees every morning and thank your personal god that you have a job.

It's attitudes like that why wages stagnate. Gonna get flamebait for this, but what happened to the yankee spirit? The Founders would puke at the current complacency.

Re:Whatever. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30723284)

In the meantime, get on your knees every morning and thank your personal god that you have a job.

It's attitudes like that why wages stagnate. Gonna get flamebait for this, but what happened to the yankee spirit? The Founders would puke at the current complacency.

It's called living with reality and the economy.

There are so many unemployed people out there that sticking up for yourself just isn't feasible. They can just can you and replace you. IT skills are a penny a dozen and considering how many qualified IT people are being pumped out in third world countries....

I can't believe your were modded up.

Re:Whatever. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30723450)

I can't believe your were modded up.

He was modded up because he's absolutely right.

America was not built with "outsourcing" in mind.
When the going get's tough, you get off your ass and get tougher!

Re:Whatever. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30723972)

America was built to outsource from England :D
Lumber, raw materials, etc.
Same was attempted in Canada with Jean Talon.

The spirit of DIY and personal entrepreneurship are what's going thin these days - it's all about international corporate allegiance.

Re:Whatever. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30723316)

Gonna get flamebait for this, but what happened to the yankee spirit?

Outsourced.

Re:12 hour shiths are not the ansaser (3, Insightful)

scarolan (644274) | more than 4 years ago | (#30722968)

12 hour shifts are not so bad if you only work three or four days a week, alternating every other week.

Re:12 hour shiths are not the ansaser (1)

silas_moeckel (234313) | more than 4 years ago | (#30723652)

preferable 3 days back to back with 4 the next week 7 on 7 off is so nice.

Re:12 hour shiths are not the ansaser (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 4 years ago | (#30724112)

...in a strip club.

Re:12 hour shiths are not the ansaser (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30724316)

The problem is when the company requires you to work "on-call" for 6-7 days a week on the 12-hour night shift. If/when problems arise you are required to stay for the 8AM morning meeting, and boom, your little 12-hour shift from 6PM to 6AM becomes a 15 hour shift because you have to explain why the accounting database was down for 45 minutes last night, and all the reports based on it are backed up by 2 hours because the batch process had to be restarted. Followed by another 12-hour shift in a few hours.

The problem is, offshore programmers aren't taught a lick of JCL to run the code properly.

I worked in Data Centers for years, I was happy and enjoyed the night shift until working for "Big Blue". They would promise clients dedicated operators, but "double-dip". Sunday nights you would routinely be watching 2 or 3 client systems at the same time, clients who were asking for / requiring dedicated operators. Sure, you ran an IPL on Sunday night and nothing was going to happen for most of the night, but it's still wrong.

The pay was great. Overtime was paid at time-and-a-half. But working 70-80 hours a week for 6-weeks straight did a number on me. It was the reason I left IT. The client system I was responsible for had 3 operators working 12-hour shifts when I came in as the fourth. That's right, 3 people covering 12-hour shifts 7-days a week, 365-days a year. That's why there was double-dipping. Just have an Operator watching another system and keep an eye on this one. It happened with almost all the clients that hired out Mainframe Operations (The majority were run this way). Management fought against bringing me on, and after I left, did not fill the position.

As for the Brazillions IBM sent some jobs to, they came to Boulder to train (It's called Boulder, but the IBM facility is closer to Niwot). The majority of them had never used a computer, and they all claimed the only requirement for the job was to speak English. It was a slap in the face for the American Operators, who had to have a college degree plus experience for the same positions.

In closing, I would go back to 12-hour shifts at a company with a dedicated Data Center. I would never go back to a service company like IBM that treats operators like junk.

Re:12 hour shiths are not the ansaser (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 4 years ago | (#30723720)

For almost every company I worked for the Boss seems to work an average of 10-16 hours a day, 7 days a week and Always on call. I had to do some traveling with my Boss once. Although it always seems like he comes in from 10-3 every day. They are usually working for the rest of the time.

Re:12 hour shiths are not the ansaser (2, Insightful)

scamper_22 (1073470) | more than 4 years ago | (#30723754)

100% of all IT jobs understaffed.

Methinks it is about time we got a professional body (or for those so inclined a union). They would set things like standards, work requirements, exams to work in a data center, and of course we can use it to make sure job stay local as the other professions do. I mean how can you trust your data to a non-professional data center. I mean, do you trust people to manage their own medicines?

I say this only have cynically. If you can't beat em, join em. We have to stop pretending we live in a free-market and use the government like everyone else to protect our turf... all in the name of benefiting society... of course.

Would this be a good time for a union? (5, Insightful)

starbugs (1670420) | more than 4 years ago | (#30722506)

> 50 % understaffed, 16 % seriously.
So how many of you have to answer your blackberries after work?
Is this not the kind of situation that a Union would prevent?

(just an honest question btw, I'm not trying to troll)

Re:Would this be a good time for a union? (3, Insightful)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 4 years ago | (#30722680)

You aren't trying to troll and neither am I. It IS the kind of situation a union would prevent, however considering everything else that has been done for union's sake lately (see: destruction of US auto industry) I would suggest you take the unionization decision VERY seriously. How exactly, considering that funding isn't sufficient for staffing at the current expense, do you expect companies to afford to bankroll a union AND get more staff to man the servers? In all likelihood you will end up with lower pay and more work; but hey at least you will have a contract!

In all fairness, (not trying to troll, honest) unions aren't for educated workers who can make rational decisions. Unions were invented to protect unsuspecting workers from manipulative business owners, when the education gap was huge. Now, you probably have a very comparable education to your boss, and probably to his boss and most of the rest of the organization. You are smart, start making your own decisions.

You know what else would prevent you from having to take work calls after hours? Stand up, tell your boss you won't give up your personal time anymore, and let him fix the situation or fire you. Presto, no more late nights!

Re:Would this be a good time for a union? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30723736)

however considering everything else that has been done for union's sake lately (see: destruction of US auto industry) I would suggest you take the unionization decision VERY seriously.

Hahaha. As much as I dislike unions, the destruction of US auto industry was caused by complacent & incompetent US auto industry management.

The US auto industry kept designing & building cars at a price point that few people wanted to buy. Simply put, foreign car companies (on average) made better, more reliable cars.

The union wanted better salary & benefits for their members (entirely understandable, we all want to make more money). But if management agreed to ridiculous levels of compensation, to the point where the business is no longer viable, then that is the fault of management for making stupid decisions.

Re:Would this be a good time for a union? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30723938)

You know what else would prevent you from having to take work calls after hours? Stand up, tell your boss you won't give up your personal time anymore, and let him fix the situation or fire you. Presto, no more late nights!

Ah, I see you are independently wealthy or have connections that are willing to get you another job pronto in a tight market. Most people don't have that luxury.

Unions are a great thing to threaten management with and a lousy thing to have to actually live under. Go figure.

Re:Would this be a good time for a union? (1)

colinrichardday (768814) | more than 4 years ago | (#30724120)

Unions are a great thing to threaten management with and a lousy thing to have to actually live under. Go figure.

So are nuclear weapons!

Re:Would this be a good time for a union? (0, Troll)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 4 years ago | (#30722696)

It's never a good time for a union. Ever.

Re:Would this be a good time for a union? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30723326)

The problems with Unions is not that they exist, but that they forgot what their job was. Their job is to protect workers from employer excess. For instance working 80+ hours a week for very little pay and no overtime. And keeping working conditions safe instead of letting safety go to increase profit, because the lawsuit would cost less then the safety measure. The problems with unions is that they forgot that and started focusing on pay and benefits. Essentially robbing Peter to pay Paul. And in the process hurting the employer by creating pay structures and job restrictions that are not sustainable. However, upper management did the same thing by paying top executives way more then they were worth. If executives were not paid 300x more then employees the company would have more money to properly staff. So unions needed to protect employees from the employers, but needed to protect employers from themselves.

Re:Would this be a good time for a union? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30723892)

It's a good time for a union when a rich employer has a monopoly over jobs but is keeping wages low despite increasing profits.

Unionism is just another negotiating tactic. People who don't like them are either rich and fear them, hopeful that they might one day be rich and not want them to exist, or a bit on the dim side. I suspect you are one of the latter group. Never mind.

Re:Would this be a good time for a union? (4, Insightful)

gclef (96311) | more than 4 years ago | (#30722774)

That's going to be very dependent on the union. (Devil's always in the details.) Many IT folks still have the free-wheeling "just get out of my way & I'll get this fixed" attitude, and in those cases union interference in their work will not be welcomed.

Basically, a collective bargaining agreement is one thing...having someone outside the organization set the bounds of your job (and set limits on how you can be promoted, or which incompetent f-up can be fired) is quite another. I won't say a union is impossible, but it probably wouldn't be one of the big names.

Re:Would this be a good time for a union? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30723648)

Of course a union would prevent it, but not necessarily in the way you hope. Offshoring the data center will stop your Blackberry from ringing.

Should this be surprising? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30722526)

Does this really surprise anyone?

Many data centers these days are no longer run by engineers or technologists, who have at least some idea regarding the technical aspects of the operation. Rather, many of them are run by people who received their higher education in finance, commerce, accounting, "business" or (perhaps worst of all) even marketing.

Of course, such people have a very hard time seeing beyond the numbers, since they usually have absolutely no understanding of technology, nor what it takes to truly run an effective data center. They insist that the current number of staff are sufficient, even when they clearly aren't, and even when they could easily afford to hire more employees.

I think this just reflects a greater problem of the American corporate society as a whole. People with actual technical knowledge in a specific field get pushed out in favor of people with meaningless MBAs (but all of the right "connections"). So it's no wonder American productivity and competitiveness is grinding to a halt.

Other areas of the world, namely Asia, India and Eastern Europe, realize that it isn't the accountants and financiers who provide productivity, but rather the engineers, scientists and technologists. That's why they can build better cars at a far lower cost than their American competitors can, for example. That's why Korea and Japan have broadband networks that put to complete shame anything in America.

Re:Should this be surprising? (1)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 4 years ago | (#30722574)

I don't think that it's a big deal that people with diverse backgrounds get into IT. Either they are competent or they are not, and there's no reason someone in finance can't become competent in IT and switch careers.

Re:Should this be surprising? (4, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#30722662)

I don't think that it's a big deal that people with diverse backgrounds get into IT. Either they are competent or they are not, and there's no reason someone in finance can't become competent in IT and switch careers.

No problem, but put them at the end of the very long line of folks whom already know what they're doing.

Re:Should this be surprising? (1)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 4 years ago | (#30723246)

nope. if for less money they can come up to speed fast enough and become sufficiently competent in what needs to be done, then they are the right person for the job. If that pisses off those who "already know what they're doing", it might mean they overvalue that knowledge and experience. of course 'fast enough' and 'sufficiently competent" are highly subjective terms.

Re:Should this be surprising? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30722720)

I don't think the parent is talking about the people actually setting up the servers, installing hardware or software, designing the networks, and monitoring it all, but rather the management who tells them what to do.

I haven't worked in IT in a long time, but when I did in the '70s and mid-'80s, everyone in management, even up to the CTO or CIO or VP of Technology, had degrees and extensive background in electrical engineering or computer science. This was true at the five separate companies I worked for during that time, from insurance to healthcare to large engineering firms.

From my relatives who work in IT at various places, I hear this isn't the case any longer. Most of their managers were brought in externally, and aren't technical at all. Some of them were saying that they spend more time fighting their management for basic resources than they do actually performing their IT duties.

- James

Re:Should this be surprising? (2, Insightful)

jittles (1613415) | more than 4 years ago | (#30722722)

That's why they can build better cars at a far lower cost than their American competitors can, for example.

Ahh I was somehow under the false impression that they were able to make cheaper cars due to lower wages, less environmental regulations, and the lack of labor unions.

Re:Should this be surprising? (4, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#30722852)

Ahh I was somehow under the false impression that they were able to make cheaper cars due to lower wages, less environmental regulations, and the lack of labor unions.

Actually it only takes about $2K of labor to build all cars and trucks. Some robot factories cost less, some cost more.

Most of the revenue goes to executive bonuses.

I'll buy American made, Japanese managed, cars. But I won't buy Mexico made, American managed, cars.

Re:Should this be surprising? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30723362)

I'll buy American made, Japanese managed, cars. But I won't buy Mexico made, American managed, cars.

I don't trust the cars today, and if you go into the past you automatically get into buying German cars from Germany, American cars from Estados Unidos Norteamericanos instead of Mexico, Japanese cars from Japan, etc. Every car I've ever owned has actually been built in the country that hosts the automaker. Most of them have been crap anyway :)

It's not that I think there's no good cars being made now, it's that there hasn't been enough time to figure out which ones are good...

Re:Should this be surprising? (5, Insightful)

Fastfwd (44389) | more than 4 years ago | (#30723448)

Actually it only takes about $2K of labor to build all cars and trucks

That's probably true of most things/services. There is an amazing amount of "friction"(ie: added cost) from all levels of management, marketing, etc. Some of it is necessary, a lot of it is not. It's strange that the people you are 100% sure you need(engineers/builders) are often at the bottom of the salary food chain.

Re:Should this be surprising? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30723658)

What does most mean? Here are Ford's income statements, it sure doesn't look like most of anything is going to executives:

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/is?s=F&annual [yahoo.com]

Alan Mulally does appear to get quite a lot of money each year:

http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2007/fortune/0709/gallery.women_men_highest_pay.fortune/20.html [cnn.com]

But $50 million isn't really that much compared to $150 billion. I guess there could be thousands and thousands of executives that get million dollar bonuses, but I doubt it.

Re:Should this be surprising? (2, Insightful)

Eskarel (565631) | more than 4 years ago | (#30724304)

To be honest, Ford is the least incompetent and corrupt US auto manufacturer by a rather long stretch. Of course they're not really entirely a US auto manufacturer anymore either, but that's really beside the point.

Unions have certainly gone too far. Particularly in regards to the ratios of show stewards(I think that's the term) to actual workers. In some places it got as bad as a two to one ratio, so a total of 1/3 of the people who were actually supposed to be doing things were useless, not even counting all the usual dead wood. That said though, management incompetence is still one of the top three reasons companies like this go down.

I don't know if a union is really the answer in IT, or in any professional job for that matter, but that doesn't mean that you have to bend over and take it. IT skills are really something you can learn or something you can't, and to be honest there aren't really all that many of us in the "can" pile and not all of us end up in IT. Just because your job could be filled by some idiot who paid 5 grand for someone to give him a few useless certifications doesn't mean that that idiot can actually do your job. Competent people are actually fairly rare, that's why you end up answering calls at 3 am in the first place. Certainly some degree of out of hours work is part of doing a support job, but if you're working 80 hours a week and getting paid for 40, you're probably making such a low hourly wage that you don't really have anything much to lose, even in this economy.

Re:Should this be surprising? (2, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#30723160)

There are also the past commitments the companies made like hefty pension schemes.

If your company never got itself into those, costs are lower. Otherwise you might find that one worker has to be productive enough to pay for 2 retirees, (as well as the CEO's cut ;) ).

Re:Should this be surprising? (2, Insightful)

diamondsw (685967) | more than 4 years ago | (#30723978)

That's why they can build better cars at a far lower cost than their American competitors can, for example.

Ahh I was somehow under the false impression that they were able to make cheaper cars due to lower wages, less environmental regulations, and the lack of labor unions.

In Japan and South Korea? Are you joking? These countries are the very essence of technology-driven.

Re:Should this be surprising? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30722762)

You'd be surprised. Remember the US (and other developed nations) are the beacons of advanced nations, so what you usually get in the developing nations is not an understanding of the reasons the advanced nations are advanced but more of a lets do what they're doing mind set which squarely focuses on the now.

So in the end you get an even worse situation. I live in a developing country and it's already the MBA's and connections and "soft skills" that are taking/took over. Expect to get nowhere like this.

I understand the importance of those individuals after actually getting there, but sustaining and/or building a nation? No way...

Re:Should this be surprising? (3, Insightful)

Himring (646324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30722832)

IT will forever baffle the top brass in most companies. Your dollar-men didn't get their via tech, but by handling the blood of the place -- the money. Engineers -- or those with that inclination and aptitude -- stay in the lower echelons. Those at the top are the game players, politically savvy -- honestly, cold. I think most engineer-types dolefully lack the ability to play the political games needed to rise to a CO position in a company. Is it any wonder that CIOs are the least positions to ever make CEO?

All of this being said: a data center is technology, and technology is a mystery. To top it off, it's not getting any easier to understand. "Cloud computing? What's that?" Says the old CO who still uses an AOL account ... that he hasn't logged into in years....

Bottomline: spending money on tech is always something the big brass knows they have to do, but do so begrudgingly....

Re:Should this be surprising? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30722838)

>> So it's no wonder American productivity and competitiveness is grinding to a halt.
Actually American productivity has made tremendous gains during the recession as more people are stuck doing the jobs of their laid-off colleagues along with their regular jobs, all for the same pay.
I do completely agree that the managers are only interested in short-term results, and the only goal of government policies is to increase the power of government which is used to justify the greedy pay and benefits of the ruling class.

Re:Should this be surprising? (1)

gusmao (712388) | more than 4 years ago | (#30723050)

This is not a problem specific to data centers, but rather to IT in general.

In the company I work for, the development team was first reduced by half (all contractors were let go), and then further sliced by 20%. Nobody from the business/management side was dismissed, and keep in mind that those people's job is just to tell the engineers what to do. Things got to the point that now we have more people giving orders than people to actually follow them through.

Meanwhile, the deadlines got more aggressive, the plans more grandiose, and micromanagement ever larger. Funny thing is, when the projects are late or incomplete, the IT guys are somehow to blame for it.

Don't forget Western Europe (5, Interesting)

brucmack (572780) | more than 4 years ago | (#30723068)

I work for a Swedish company that understands the value of IT and invests resources in it accordingly. Based on my experiences with other Western European countries, this isn't abnormal.

The difference in work culture between here and the US is astounding. While it seems most American companies see IT as the place to save costs, the companies I've dealt with here recognize that our IT systems contribute directly to our competitiveness in the global market, and invest accordingly.

Re:Don't forget Western Europe (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 4 years ago | (#30724086)

The difference may stem from the US tendency to turn EVERYTHING into a data center. Have 100 employees? You need a room full of computers for that! 1:1 server ratio, after all, your team of medical transcriptioners needs sub millisecond response time for their document shares and non-work-related emails about cats saying funny things.

I don't have any evidence to back it up but I would suspect that more mature companies (read: Western European ones) realize how and where to apply IT. In the US, it was a free for all with no expense spared up until the dotcom crash, which left a lot of people scratching their heads asking "do we really need 50 servers for our company web page that serves 1000 hits a day?"

There are plenty of US companies that still spare no expense when it comes to IT; the ones that are understaffed are probably almost exclusively the ones that shouldn't be in the business of owning a data center in the first place.

Re:Should this be surprising? (1)

assertation (1255714) | more than 4 years ago | (#30723196)

Aside from Japan, those countries also have cheaper labor so cost is less of an issue with hiring

What is "understaffed" (4, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#30722596)

I believe understaffed means no one (in the US) is replying to the following ad:

Want to hire data center cat5 cable install tech, mandatory 60 hr week overtime, weekend 2nd 3rd shift and holidays required, require CCIE, MBA, at least masters level degree (prefer phd), minimum ten years experience with "windows server 2008R2" yearly salary $25K/yr no benefits.

Golly, we got us a shortage, best open the H1B floodgates!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Re:What is "understaffed" (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30722628)

Wait, you mean you've read the ad from my company?

Re:What is "understaffed" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30722748)

I think this is a topic we should talk of more. Currently is see a LOT of jobs with this kind of advertisement. On the other hand they require a lot of stuff that took maybe 6-12 years to amass and then they want you to do a job to which your clearly overqualified to do.*

But then I only work 30 h a week to start with (I don't need more money). What the hell do I know of stuff like this.

* Just for the privilege of complaining about workers who dont commit.

Re:What is "understaffed" (1)

troll8901 (1397145) | more than 4 years ago | (#30722806)

... require CCIE, MBA, at least masters level degree...

You forgot SAP, Oracle and MCTS.

... minimum ten years experience with "windows server 2008R2"...

No, no, you'll attract all the old forgies. You should specify "windows server 2011R4". I guarantee you'll attract the very best!

Re:What is "understaffed" (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 4 years ago | (#30722936)

> You should specify "windows server 2011R4".

Make sure they have 4 years experience in "windows server 2011R4" too.

Re:What is "understaffed" (0, Troll)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#30722980)

Is someone twisting your arm to take this job? Are you being coerced?

Don't whine and blame "corporate America" when you find out your CS degree doesn't guarantee you a $125k a year salary with a company car and medical cover. That boat sailed long ago, and you're not the first / you won't be the last to realise it. You are a commodity now. You're either a prodigy and make yourself very well known, or you fade into the pool of imported skills and labour, many of whom come from backgrounds where your idea of "a hard day's work" is vacation time.

Someone else is willing to work harder than you for less money. Either lower your expectations, change your work ethic, or prepare to be swept aside by 10 others who aren't as pompous.

Things change. Adapt.

Re:What is "understaffed" (1)

BVis (267028) | more than 4 years ago | (#30723186)

There's a huge gap between $25k/no benefits/mandatory insane hours/no dignity and $125k and Cadillac benefits packages. How about $60k (adjusted up/down for COL where you are), medical coverage, 401k, reasonable leave time/holidays, rotating call coverage/overtime, and a working environment that doesn't make you want to rip your own fingers off to improve your situation?

How about just some of those? Or any, for that matter?

Honestly, I'd get 25k/yr and medical coverage if I were unemployed. I couldn't afford to take a job like the one the GP described.

(I'm sure someone will point out the unemployment benefit number and start bitching and whining about the 'welfare state' and how there's no incentive to get a job blah blah. YOU try supporting a family on a $25k pay rate that only lasts six months, then you can complain.)

Re:What is "understaffed" (0, Troll)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#30723494)

How about $60k (adjusted up/down for COL where you are), medical coverage, 401k, reasonable leave time/holidays, rotating call coverage/overtime, and a working environment that doesn't make you want to rip your own fingers off to improve your situation?

There will always be somebody who's willing to take $55k. Like I said, "the market" decides what you get paid. If you don't like the pay, you find another job / sector and work your ass off getting a job there.

I somehow knew I'd be modded troll, but I see it as more "-1 Uncomfortable Truth." Coming out of University with $xx,000 in debt and a qualification another 1m people across the country also got isn't the way it's done anymore, but business hasn't caught up. They want the Degree level education of a graduate, but the lower expectation of an unqualified H1B employee. They get the latter, as it costs less, and at the moment the bottom-line is the bottom-line. The question is whether you're willing to slip yourself into that segment in order to get experience, or become part of the "welfare state" so to speak.

FWIW, a friend of mine left his cushy job as QA for a large game publisher around 4 months ago and went onto benefits (contract ended, so he qualified). His outgoings are less by as much as I earn more than he gets in benefits, so we have a comparative lifestyle. The difference is that when he comes to seek employment, he has to explain why he's been a bum for 6 months. I only have to use the words "Economic downturn. I didn't want to go on benefits." to explain why I took lower pay than the job is worth. He benefits short term.

It won't last forever, and we can benefit long term. Just got to play by their rules for a while.

Re:What is "understaffed" (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30723400)

You're missing the point here. Windows Server 2008R2 has been out less than a year...certainly less than 4 years. I went through a series of interviews with various companies years ago in which I was asked if I have 5 years experience with DotNet. DotNet had been around for about 6 months at the time.

It's not pompousness. Although I quickly got there. I'd have some HR person ask me the question to which I would respond with a "no" qualified with why. They only ever heard "no" and would tell me I didn't meet their requirements. I got tired of trying to explain that it wasn't possible. I went so far as to tell one recruiter that anyone who said they could meet those requirements was lying to them. I got laughed at.

I might be a commodity when I'm on the market for a job. When I've been with an employer for 5 years or more I'm worth more to that employer than I am to a prospective employer. I'm not a commodity. I'm an knowledge store. I document my work but I don't need my documentation. I'm efficient in ways a new employee can't be until they've been here for years. The new PHB doesn't realize it. He's cut our staff by 15%, insulted us with the raises offered, put ridiculous demands on a smaller work force, and generally annoyed the hell out of us.

Most of us have taken this career path because we want to adapt. We want to learn. We want to keep up. We enjoy it. What we don't enjoy is watching companies treat us like cheap mules after we've spent years ensuring they are successful. I work for a privately owned company. The owners brag about their record revenues, show off their pretty toys (cars, motorcycles, etc). Meanwhile they tell us they have no money to give us a raise that isn't an insult. They increase their standard of living while telling us to tighten our belts. I don't want all the toys. I just want to provide a comfortable life for myself and my family. The cost of living goes up and my compensation doesn't.

I know. Shut up or get out. I'll be getting out before long. I have a feeling this is the case with a lot of people. I see a big shake-up coming across IT in general. Companies have taken the chance this economic downturn has provided them to screw over their valuable employees. They've squandered their good will. People are going to leave their jobs because of this and companies are going to lose a LOT of their knowledge base.

Re:What is "understaffed" (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#30724142)

I didn't miss the point. The Decade in experience with 2008R2 was obviously put in there as a joke. You must have not gotten that.

The end of my reply to the other child post is essentially a summary of what you've said; They make insane demands, don't get them met, ship in H1B workforce and reap short term reward. In the end, they'll fail. That doesn't help you now, though.

My point is very much "If you can't stand the heat..." There are plenty of jobs available, just not jobs a graduate of the past 10 years would expect to do. Still jobs which can lead to very good careers, though. Cable monkey for $25k is better than beatnik for $0k. Have to play the game by today's rules, not yesterdays.

Re:What is "understaffed" (2, Insightful)

ITJC68 (1370229) | more than 4 years ago | (#30724326)

The sick part is this is what you see. They want all this experience and pay nothing. I don't know about everyone else but getting degrees and certifications "cost" money to obtain. When the IT guys (myself included) stop selling ourselves short then the market will change. The problem is they starve some out and they will take a job they are overqualified for and get paid peanuts then the rest of the industry thinks this should be the norm. I have been in IT for over 10 years and this trend has not changed. At least not in the midwest. I see more jobs with temp to hire, wanting all these certifications and experience but the pay doesn't match. Go in the interview and if you ask for "proper compensation consideration" and you know you won't get the job because they mark you as greedy. In this job climate this is what you are going to see. It is an employers market. With over 10% out of work this is the way they want it.

One small part of the study (3, Interesting)

jamesl (106902) | more than 4 years ago | (#30722606)

The original Symantec study listed seven bullet points and staffing was number four.

Staffing and budgets remain tight with half of all enterprises reporting they are somewhat/extremely understaffed. Finding budget and qualified applicants are the biggest recruiting issues. Seventy-six percent of enterprises have the same or more job requisitions open this year.
http://www.symantec.com/about/news/release/article.jsp?prid=20100111_01 [symantec.com]

More important and certainly more interesting was the finding:
... the study found that mid-sized enterprises (2,000 to 9,999 employees) are more likely to adopt cutting-edge technologies such as cloud computing, deduplication, replication, storage virtualization, and continuous data protection than small or large enterprises to reduce IT costs and manage increasing complexity.

Re:One small part of the study (2, Insightful)

Spad (470073) | more than 4 years ago | (#30722988)

Not really surprising; they fall into the range of companies who tend to have enough money to invest in new tech but lack the corporate clusterfuck that stops them from achieving any kind of change.

Re:One small part of the study (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 4 years ago | (#30724172)

"First we're gonna deduplicate it, then we're gonna replicate it! Why? Cutting edge cost savings, that's why!!!"

Not all managers are oblivious (1)

mc1138 (718275) | more than 4 years ago | (#30722612)

Thankfully I work for a company, that while it wants to cut costs all the time, they aren't ignorant of what needs to happen to make things run. Both my immediate supervisor and the manager one level up feel that there might be some staffing issues, and are taking the time to get a full data center assessment to both identify areas we are lacking, help with a road map, and most importantly put it all in a language the higher ups can understand and appreciate.

Data Centers (5, Funny)

electricbern (1222632) | more than 4 years ago | (#30722638)

1. Lay off staff 2. Hire Oompa-Loompas 3. Profit!

Re:Data Centers (2, Funny)

electricbern (1222632) | more than 4 years ago | (#30722674)

Due to cost cuts the previous post has no brs.

Well duh! (2, Funny)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 4 years ago | (#30722654)

The vast majority of companies said they are having trouble finding enough money and enough qualified applicants to keep their data center staff at healthy levels.

It's because they filter out qualified people who use an AOL email account [slashdot.org] !

Shouldn't a good Data Centre...? (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#30722694)

Shouldn't a good data centre be staffed by no one at all?

Re:Shouldn't a good Data Centre...? (1)

troll8901 (1397145) | more than 4 years ago | (#30722846)

Well, you need someone to clear the bugs, cockroaches and moths, otherwise the systems will eventually be filled with bugs.

Re:Shouldn't a good Data Centre...? (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 4 years ago | (#30722854)

Windows needs constant baby sitting.

Re:Shouldn't a good Data Centre...? (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30722946)

Windows ME called; they'd like their meme back.

Re:Shouldn't a good Data Centre...? (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#30723702)

Windows ME called; they'd like their meme back.

As soon as Vista stops crashing* on me, I'll get right on that.

*Vista did an update. Now when it boots it says "Critical error. Machine will restart in 1 minute". I'm also getting a BSOD every once in a while, but it doesn't stay on the screen long enough to read.

Not only data centers (3, Informative)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 4 years ago | (#30722698)

Banks are "guilty" of under staffing too. You call a bank for help or a query on something very dear to you and here's what you are likely to face:

1: A long wait for service after being informed that they've been "receiving higher than normal call volumes..."

2: You then face a menu system that tries to keep you away from speaking to any human being...

3: When you finally get to speak to a one, this human being knows nothing about what you need...or cannot help you!

4: Or if he/she can be of any help, their accent makes you take "too long" to actually get service...

5: When you decide to 'attack' your branch office to "actually get service", you realize that you are dealing with a fella who is paid small amount of cash...almost minimum wage...that they are actually inefficient...

These financial institutions are guilty guilty guilty too.

Re:Not only data centers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30723218)

4: Or if he/she can be of any help, their accent makes you take "too long" to actually get service...

Doesn't it scare anyone that their personal sata: DOB, SSN, Mother's Maiden name, etc... is being scattered willy nilly all over the World by these banks?

Re:Not only data centers (1)

tophermeyer (1573841) | more than 4 years ago | (#30723588)

My bank has none of these problems. When I call their main number, I go through an automated security system to identify and authenticate myself. I'm then transferred directly to a rep at my local branch, who already has my account information up.

Of course my bank is small, 5 branches and a central office. The issues you describe are inherent to larger national banks. I wouldn't classify them as "guilty" as if it were a crime or a weakness. Those issues you describe are a combined cost savings and complaint deterrent measure; it makes it much harder for you to successfully contest charges and fees. That is part and parcel with having the advantages of such a large bank (i.e. greater banking services and ATM locations).

You could avoid those problems by simple picking a smaller financial institution that is more focused on the satisfaction of their individual members.

Cloud computing is cheaper? (1)

Vermyndax (126974) | more than 4 years ago | (#30722712)

Is this why cloud computing is supposedly cheaper (right now)? Someone should look at this as a data point and consider what the remedy might do to that cheap cloud computing. Here's a dot - it should be connected.

Re:Cloud computing is cheaper? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30723508)

Well, here's one idea: there's a shitload of houses sitting empty all over the country. Perhaps the time has come for micro-data-centers which also provide lodging to their couple of employees. Sure, economies of scale provide some benefits. But in a cloud model there's less penalty for having computers scattered all over the planet...

The % would be higher except... (3, Funny)

Zarf (5735) | more than 4 years ago | (#30722718)

... most of the data center staff we tried to poll were too busy to answer the poll.

gmod up (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30722902)

conversa7ions where play area Try not

What they say VS what they do (3, Insightful)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 4 years ago | (#30722938)

It's a survey, folks - not real life.

If you want to get a true picture of life in a data centre look at what the management actually do, what they spend money on and what they produce. If you rely on the answers they give you'll end up broke very quickly. The only way to tell if datacentres really are understaffed is if they start hiring more people: any other action just shows the lie in their responses.

When managers say they need more staff, they generally mean they need more cheap staff (often to replace the expensive staff they already have). They could always fill any critical needs very quickly by offering more financial incentives (the only ones that really mean anything), but this almost never happens. Somehow they manage to bumble on with their "staff shortages" and still meet their targets.

Data center woes (1)

Datamonstar (845886) | more than 4 years ago | (#30722972)

16 petabytes storage in production, two dozen or so unix machines, two mainframes, a godzillion Windows servers of the real and virtual variety, and 12 sites to service, two of which have not been migrated to our mainframe system yet and are using old, out of service systems that are not being properly maintained. 12 hour 1-man shifts after the last lay-offs (firings).
All of that is shared between two sites and only two people per day. God yes, we are understaffed. Granted, we're in a transitory period, but still. It sucks. I used to love my job, but now I leave work praying that I managed to catch everything that might have gone haywire before I left out of fear that the two ass-hat tattle-tales who never lift a finger to help anyone but themselves will go straight up and tell the boss(es) that I'm not doing my job in an attempt to make themselves look better. Back when we had two men onboard each night, we had each others back. Now everyone's trying to stab each others back and we can't even cover our own backs enough because there's almost too much work for one person to do.

Re:Data center woes (1)

boner (27505) | more than 4 years ago | (#30723254)

Not to forget that the business unit manager sold non-existent capacity in an effort to lock-in his bonus...

Data-centers are businesses, even if they are wholy owned by the company. The business of a data-center is delivering reasonable service at minimum cost. When you think long and hard about it, you can only conclude that a data-center is in the commodity business. The past ten years have clearly shown what happens to commodity businesses... The main problem however is that data-center competition and customer demand lead to the same end-result: shitty service at an acceptable price. In the end, large data-center screw-ups are rare and most companies do try to make an educated guess on their risk.

For data-center management to be fun again, we need: better tools, less proliferation of half-baked OSes, standardization of management APIs etc... Is it likely to happen: no, because it is a commodity and not enough people care....

To make you feel better: when cars where new and exciting, most people knew how to change a flat, check the oil, fix a bulb and manually crank the car, becuase cars would break down. Nowadays the average person may know how to check the oil and change a flat, but only if their dashboard warns them.... The same is true for data-centers, technology is amazingly more robust and easier to manage, to the point that most users don't care or know any better....

Re:Data center woes (2, Interesting)

scsirob (246572) | more than 4 years ago | (#30723856)

If it is really as bad as you describe, take a couple of days sick leave. Have them figure it out for themselves that your job isn't easy and that they do not have a backup.

Perhaps when one of those out-of-service systems dies in the interim, they feel the pain. They may look at you as being a valuable asset.

Perception (2, Insightful)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 4 years ago | (#30723140)

They are surveying enterprises of certain size, and asking someone (who? the manager?) if their perception is if they are understaffed or not. Similar sized networks could be seen as under or overstaffed depending of how much troubles they have, how much busy they feel, a quiet datacenter with half of the usual staff could be seen as overstaffed if no troubles or most of the common trobles are solved automatically, compared with a chaotic one with lots of troubles. Where i work in a year we passed from a perception of understaffed situation, where troubles jump at every moment, to an almost overstaffed one, same datacenter size, almost half of the people, but better architecture.

Startups don't have data centers (1)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 4 years ago | (#30723152)

Startups outsource data center work to cloud providers. These big companies that are struggling to manage their data centers are really only battling their own inertia and internal vested interests while the world around them changes. There is no reason, from 2010 onwards, for 90% of current data center efforts to not be in one of the clouds. The growth in usage of Amazon's AWS cloud is amazing. [allthingsdistributed.com] Avoiding data center management is the reason nimble companies working to get there.

Not so meaningful (1)

rumblin'rabbit (711865) | more than 4 years ago | (#30723204)

These statistics don't mean much.

The report says 50% of IT executives feel their company's IT is understaffed, 45% say it is appropriately staffed, and 5% say it is overstaffed. But how often do department managers of any type in any situation say they are overstaffed? 5% maybe? And how do these figures compare with the same question asked 5 years ago?

So what's the next enlightening question? How many IT professionals feel they are underpaid?

Re:Not so meaningful (1)

jacobsm (661831) | more than 4 years ago | (#30724046)

I'll take a wild guess and say 100%.

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