Is there or isn’t there an IT skills shortage? Some recent news articles seem to suggest that the only real skills shortage is the one that exists in IT security. Roughly half of seasoned IT security professionals say they get contacted by a recruiter at least once a week. So, aside from this vital area, your IT department is probably firing on all cylinders, right?

Perhaps it’s all a matter of perspective. No matter what the stats or the news media say, if you’re having a hard time finding and retaining the right IT talent, for you, there’s an IT skills shortage.

As a follow up to our three-part interview on data center automation with TierPoint’s Sunny Shah, VP of Technology, here are four ways data center automation can help you overcome your IT Skills Shortage:

1. Reduce repetitive IT tasks

Traditionally, IT has been filled with time-consuming, repetitive tasks. Think about adding data center capacity, for instance. It used to be you had to procure computer, networking, and storage resources separately. Now, you can implement hyperconverged infrastructure devices in a matter of minutes and provision virtual machines remotely, automating many of the basic steps. This beats traveling to each of your sites and spending days configuring equipment.

2. Reduce errors with automation

Correcting errors can be incredibly time-consuming in IT, especially if that error compromised the security or the reliability of your systems. As Sunny pointed out in the interview, “Not only does [automation] make the process more efficient and less error-prone, with less human-intervention needed, it also decreases the level of skill needed. That’s a benefit that shouldn’t be underestimated at a time when almost everyone in this business is having problems finding and retaining the right IT talent.”  

As automation advances even more and artificial intelligence/machine learning become the norm, errors should become even less frequent. Complex decisions may still need to be made by people, but they will be guided by near-instant analysis and recommendations. Even if your IT staff, left to their own analysis, would have arrived at the same conclusion, automation and AI will help you have more confidence in their decisions. Plus, your IT department will arrive at their conclusions faster, so they can respond faster to problems or opportunities, and yet, still respond appropriately.

The Software-Defined Data Center: A Foundation for Digital Transformation

3. Reduce required labor

IT security automation is getting more and more sophisticated. The jury is still out on whether automation will ever allow a company to put IT security on auto-pilot, but at least it’s reducing the labor needed to monitor systems manually. Here’s an example from industry that illustrates this well.

In the healthcare industry, HIPAA requires an audit trail showing who has accessed electronic personal health records (EPHI). Though the regulation doesn’t specify how often an audit must be conducted, Section 164.312(b) does say that the covered entity must “implement hardware, software, and/or procedural mechanisms that record and examine activity in information systems that contain or use electronic protected health information.”

If you’ve ever tried to examine access logs manually, you know how tedious it can be. Eventually, everything blurs together, and it’s easy for problems to be obscured. Automated log monitoring is faster and less error-prone. As machine learning gets added, covered entities will even be able to detect problematic patterns more easily and ensure greater security for their customers – and the Health and Human Services Department.

4. Better utilization of talent with the right IT Skills

Almost every IT leader we talk to has in-house staff doing work that is far below their pay grade. Even if they don’t see it that way, it’s a bet that some of their senior engineers do, and that can contribute to an IT staff retention problem. A study by Booz Allen Hamilton and (ISC)2 conducted in 2017 found that 28% of millennials in IT security positions had voluntarily changed jobs in the past year for one that offered them such benefits as greater “role diversity” and “training programs.” 

Other times, senior engineers are doing work only they can do, but the work is mundane and takes them away from applying their skills in areas that move the business forward such as data analytics.  By automating repetitive tasks, you can free up these resources for more meaningful projects, creating a win/win for the employer and the employee.

How can automation help you create a more agile IT department?

As a managed service provider, we’re keenly interested in data center automation as it helps us create more agile, responsive services for our customers. Learn more about how TierPoint Managed Services can help you achieve your IT goals.

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