Driven by business demands such as regulatory compliance and the growth of unstructured content, companies are investing in storage technologies, including Fibre Channel and iSCSI storage area networks, storage virtualization, and disk-to-disk backup. The convergence of storage and networking has created demand for--and a shortage of--workers with skills in these areas.
The Information Storage Industry Center, a nonprofit research program of the University of California at San Diego, provides technology pros with resources to further their careers by adding storage skills. The center operates StorageNetworking .org, where visitors can find degree and certification programs that include backup and recovery, data integrity, storage administration, network-attached storage, SANs, and virtualization.
The site also serves as a clearinghouse for user groups and research papers. Links are available to storage networking user groups that provide forums for storage pros to polish their skills and learn new ones: The New York group recently held a talk by Christopher Hill, associate director of information systems at law firm Thacher Proffitt & Wood LLP, on the topic of storage strategies in the mid-tier enterprise.
Although many educational institutions feature storage as an academic discipline, most of these programs are research-oriented. The center wants to expand the number of institutions offering practical courses. "We're trying to bridge the gap between industry and academia, so academia can realize the value of offering courses that prepare people to enter the storage workforce and be more competent at it," says Rob Durbin, the center's director of industry relations.
The ideal preparation for someone wishing to pursue a career as a storage professional is an academic track combining storage and networking, plus some on-the-job training that involves translating business objectives into technology requirements. Says Durbin, "The days of the heads-down database administrator are over. The hiring managers I speak to want people who are smart, versatile, and possess business savvy."