Survey: Data Center Staff in the Dumps

The IT industry is finally emerging from the slowdown - but someone should let the data center staff know

June 9, 2004

3 Min Read
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Data centers and IT departments are not among the happiest working environments on earth, according to Meta Group Inc.'s annual IT staffing and compensation survey.

Nearly 75 percent of the 650 companies interviewed reported having a morale problem among their IT staff. Though the industry as a whole is emerging from an economic downturn, it appears that many staff are still stuck in the doldrums.

"It doesn't surprise me all that much. I think that IT professionals are still under pressure because IT budgets have still not been released," says the report's author, Maria Schafer, senior program director for Meta Group's Executive Directions Advisory Service.

"Until we see higher levels of investment, people will still be working long hours and feeling put upon -- they have also not seen the big bonuses of a few years ago," she adds.

More than half of the respondents indicated that they lost staff this year, so the burden of extra work is coming to rest on those IT professionals left behind. Schafer says that IT professionals are now working, on average, up to 60 hours a week.Interestingly, outsourcing doesn't appear to be the cause of dwindling IT staff sizes. Only 20 percent of the companies surveyed admit to sourcing labor offshore. Among these, the amount of outsourcing varied greatly. For example, 40 percent of that number have only 5 percent of their total workforce deployed overseas.

As expected, IT is still a lucrative area in which to work. Overall, the research revealed that companies pay their IT staff an average of 20 percent more than their non-IT (and non-executive) employees.

This could be scant consolation for readers of this Website. A recent Next-gen Data Center Forum survey found that money is obviously something of a sore point in the data center. Half of the respondents felt that they were underpaid, compared to 26 percent who felt fairly compensated and a smug 12 percent who think they're actually getting more than they're worth (see Data Center Staff: Show Us the Money).

Meta Group's findings also reflect the current importance of specialized applications within data centers (see Philadelphia Stories and Startup Shifts Applications). Application development skills continue to be highly sought after, as are IT professionals with knowledge of Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL) products, Java, and networking.

However, one area that did not surface as a major issue was legacy skills, which encompasses the older data center technologies, such as mainframes. There has been growing concern among data center managers that these skills are dying out -- or, more precisely, that the people with these skill sets are retiring (see Mainframe Skills Shortage Looms).Does this mean that we have managed to successfully dodge a bullet? Sadly not, according to Schafer, who says, "Because there has not been a high turnover in most companies, it perpetuates the myth that everything is fine."

But this will all change. "Within the next 12 to 18 months we will see a lot of the baby boomers retiring as the economy improves. Legacy skills will become an issue."

James Rogers, Site Editor, Next-gen Data Center Forum

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