The next time IT professionals with advanced skills go looking for a job, chances are good they’ll discover that IT services providers will pay them about 15 to 30 percent more than a traditional enterprise IT organization.
IT services vendors and traditional IT organizations have always competed for the best IT talent. But because IT services providers build their business around the talents of their in-house IT staffs, making sure they have the best and brightest people is a critical business requirement. With the general economy improving and enterprise IT becoming more complex, finding those people has evolved into a major challenge.
“We have a number of senior architects that emerged from our storage and data center practices,” Jerry McIntosh, senior vice president for advanced technology at IT-services provider ePlus Technology, said in an interview. “But we’re starting to have to look further afield in order to find people with, for example, programming skills.” He believes the people who can combine business skills with technical acumen will be the ones that rise to the top.
Because IT people with the latest advanced skills are in such high demand, CompTIA, the industry IT association, reports that IT services firms have already noticed an uptick in the cost of IT labor. In fact, CompTIA reports that salaries for IT professionals who work in IT services firms are considerably higher than in traditional enterprise IT organizations.
For example, CompTIA data shows that computer network architects make about 32 percent more when working for an IT services firm. Network and systems administrators typically make as much as 17 percent more.
The challenge that IT professionals often face with applying for these jobs is that many of them are customer-facing. Not only do IT professionals need to have advanced skills to land these jobs, IT service providers want to make sure that the IT professionals they hire have the “soft skills” required to keep customers satisfied.
Charles King, principal analyst for Pund-IT, suggests that, with the rise of software-defined data centers (SDDCs), it’s going to be a lot easier for IT services organizations to remotely manage IT. Combine that capability with advances in IT automation, and King notes that it’s quite likely more IT in the years ahead will be under the management of external IT services providers.
With the rise of SDDCs, King said, it’s increasingly clear that application programming interfaces (APIs) will be exposed that will allow data-center infrastructure (along with the applications running on it) to be managed from anywhere in the world: “We’re heading towards a future where traditional back-end management of the data center is being commoditized… The effect that automated operations have on IT is something vendors have historically always talked gingerly about.”
Right now, many data center operations lack people with the programming skills necessary to turn the vision of SDDCs into everyday reality. But the IT operations specialists who do have those programming skills are likely to command a significant salary premium for years to come. As for those IT specialists who don’t learn to program, the number of career opportunities they can pursue will continue to shrink as IT operations become more automated.
Even if IT operations specialists don’t know how to program today, the probability that an IT services provider is going to be willing to invest in training is considerably higher than a traditional enterprise IT organization. The IT service provider is trying to monetize IT skills to the fullest extent possible; the average enterprise IT organization tends to view training as either an expense to be minimized or, worse yet, a cost to be absorbed by the employee.
With the costs associated with acquiring those skills rising, IT professionals who want to stay current on advanced technologies that will pay consistently better might want to go to work for an IT services provider. After all, IT services providers tend to have the financial wherewithal to actually deliver on that salary promise.
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