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Growing demand for data storage professionals.

Posted on 19 November 2008

As the paper trail has evolved into the digital highway, computer storage capacity has also increased. Today’s computer users can store mountains of information that would have previously required a roomful of equipment.

Consider that in 1980, it took a fleet of refrigerator-sized devices to store 60 gigabytes of information. By 1990, one small refrigerator-sized storage device could suffice. Today, two small disk drives inside a PC can store 60 gigabytes, and by 2010, it’s likely a disk drive half the size of a credit card will be capable of storing that much information.

Technology professionals who specialize in data storage are the unsung heroes of the digital age. Creating storage systems that can keep pace with the booming volume of digital information is a never-ending challenge and necessity.

Technology professionals who specialize in data storage are the unsung heroes of the digital age.

Information Overload
A University of California Berkeley study released in October 2000 predicted that the amount of new data being generated worldwide would double annually—with more original information created over the next two years than in the history of humanity. Ninety-three percent of the information produced each year is stored in digital form.

“It doesn’t matter how much capacity we can provide, the world keeps asking for more,” says Horacio Méndez, Ph.D., executive director of the Data Storage Systems Center (DSSC) at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. “There’s a voracious appetite for storage. Ideally, you’d like to have every piece of information you could ever need accessible from your computer.”

Educational Opportunities
Leading the charge to help the United States maintain its competitive edge in the data storage industry are research programs like Carnegie Mellon’s, which push the frontiers of technology and turn out well-rounded systems engineers.

“Despite the so-called recession, we haven’t seen any decrease in our sponsoring companies’ interest in our graduates,” Méndez comments.

Currently, 10 universities, including Carnegie Mellon, offer formal research centers devoted to storage technology. Others include the University of California Berkeley, Santa Clara University, Stanford University, the University of Minnesota, the University of Arizona, the University of Alabama, Ohio State University, the University of California San Diego, and Washington University in St. Louis.

Numerous other universities are members of The National Storage Industry Consortium, which fosters collaborative research efforts in storage technology among its members—over 50 corporations, universities and national labs.

Industry Leaders
The hardware, software, research and development, and integration sectors continue to grow as a result of the digital information boom.

The storage software market in particular has realized substantial growth, as worldwide storage software revenue reached $5.3 billion in 2000—a 28 percent increase over 1999—according to Dataquest, Inc., a unit of Gartner, Inc.

Ten companies, including EMC, Veritas, and IBM (with 67, 69, and 17 percent growth in data storage sales respectively), currently account for 87 percent of the storage software market. Half are software-only vendors and half are vendors that also sell storage hardware, according to Carolyn DiCenzo, chief analyst for Gartner Dataquest’s storage group.

Help Wanted: Capacity Planners
In addition to the actual development and integration of hardware and software, opportunities also abound at the corporate level, where “capacity planners,” or “database administrators,” for example, help companies manage stored data.

“We’ve spent so much time and effort creating data, we now need people to manage it,” says Maria Schafer, program director of human capital management for META Group, an IT research and consulting firm based in Stamford, Conn. “Knowing when and how much new storage to buy is a critical component of any IT operations strategy.”

Experience that is both broad and deep, combined with specialized training, gives candidates an edge, Schafer explains. A master’s degree in computer science or an engineering-related discipline, or equivalent experience, provides applicants an additional boost.

“In most business environments, there is concern about storage. This demand for expertise means that a database administrator—to point out just one storage-related position—is a very important, well-paid position. In many cases a company will have a couple of different databases, and somebody has to know how to make those databases work together,” says Schafer.

She went on to say that “it’s the combination of knowledge and experience that makes these people so valuable. It’s a great area if you’re a young person. It may not sound as exciting as doing web design. But it’s a very important position in any organization right now. Companies need storage—they need capacity.”

That means that–if you’ve stored up the right educational background and technical skills–the storage industry needs you.

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1 Comments For This Post

  1. Resume Tips says:


    Thanks for your positive article about jobs that are in demand. It’s nice to see the words “Help Wanted” instead of something like “Citibank to Cut 50,000 Jobs.” Staying positive and getting the right information certainly helps!

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