The human capital is important in the IT industry. Yet, we are facing a situation where there is a steady supply of storage-related jobs, but the supply of human resources and skills to these jobs is seriously lacking. Even if there are many people applying for these positions, the good ones are far and few.
What’s happening? Malaysia has been stuck in a rut for quite a few years now trying to raise good quality human capital, especially in the IT sectors. God knows how hard agencies such as MDeC and others IT bodies have been trying to increase the awareness and supply of good quality IT people for the IT industry. In storage, the situation is even more acute because storage has been seen as the one of the unglamourous jobs. That is why there are likely to have more networking techies than storage techies.
We all know IT is all about data and information and the data and information are created, stored, modified, stored-again, replicated, migrated, archived and deleted IN STORAGE. Data has to reside in storage and memory before it can be used. And don’t forget that memory is temporary, volatile storage. It’s plain and simple – data has to be in some form of storage before it can be used.
I have been fairly disturbed by the fact that storage remains one of the most important foundations of IT and yet, the pool of good storage networking and data management professionals is seriously shallow, especially in Malaysia. The good ones are out there, kept as prized assets of the company they work for. But cloud computing is here, and the demand for storage professionals is greater than ever.
I went out and did some research, using the salary factor as the main criteria for storage jobs. And here’s what I found –>
The information source of the above chart is Certification Magazine Salary Survey 2009. I hope the table isn’t too small to read but here’s what I can summarize in the table below. The rows in red are the storage-related jobs.
Yes, the information is a bit old but it tells a tale. Storage professionals’ salary with the value that the storage certifications carry are in the upper echelons of the pay scale. At the same time during my research, I also found this page of information from Foote Partners LLC – 2011 IT Skills & Certification Pay Index.
And again, storage certification is usually higher in percentage than the median average pay premium.
However, all these information are from the US where skills and experience are valued highly because they drive innovation and sales.
Sadly, this cannot be always true in Malaysia because the IT economy in Malaysia has not reached the level of innovation that drives new technologies in the country’s economy. I think this is all our fault. Why? Here’s what I think
- We go for the easy ones
- We don’t want to learn anymore after we started working in IT
- We don’t set high targets for ourselves
- We accept things as they are – something to us being apathy towards things
- We have other things on our mind – like politics, inflation and so on
- We don’t innovate
And this is something that saddens me.
A few years ago, I was at a local FOSScon where the open source geeks and nerds and gurus convene. I was there for 2 reasons – to have a bit of fun, but more importantly, I was looking for people who had skills with kernel and file systems. Sadly, I found none after 2 days at the event. Almost all developers I spoke to where developing in PHP, mySQL, Python, Ruby-on-Rails and so on. This was a clear signal that most Malaysian developers were taking the easy way out (point #1 above). No one was programming in C, C++, and working on hardcore stuff like device drivers, networking protocols and so on.
Since we did not go out and outdo ourselves and innovate, we did not create an innovative IT economy that is the key for creating demand. Most IT companies in Malaysia would prefer playing the pass-through game i.e. “let’s pass through this deal with this reseller”, knowing full well that the reseller is there for relationship connections, not value-add. Hence point #1 again.
I recall another incident that also vivid in my mind. I was decommissioning some Sun JavaStations in the backroom of a premier, “multimedia” university in Melaka. I looked at the lecture that was going on and the instructor was teaching ApplixWord. I asked one of the students and he told me that the course was 2 (or was it 1) credit hours. It came as a big shocker to me because an premier IT multimedia university was teaching the most basic of the basics of word processing. A university is supposed to be the institution to ignite creativity and innovation, but this university was droning its students on word processing. No wonder our IT economy sucks because we set such f*cking low standards for ourselves (point #3).
What I would like to see if IT people go out of the box they didn’t know they were confined to in the first place, and learn/share and learn/share and learn/share. Be creative, be innovative, be bold.
I have been blessed with like-minded people who can do a good hack and build something that can compete with the big boys like EMC, IBM, HP and the likes. But these people are far and few.
Today, I am looking for more of such people, people who are f*cking (pardon me French but I am the passionate one) good with storage networking and data management stuff. I am looking for people who can innovate to create the real Silicon Valley culture in Malaysia. We don’t need fancy ministers to officiate or glamourous events launching but the real hackers, entrepreneurial junkies and those pioneering spirited wackos (in a good way), to define what this IT economy is all about!
I was chatting with a friend yesterday and we were discussing about virtualization and cloud, the biggest things that are happening in the IT industry right now. We were talking about the VMware vSphere 5 arrival, the cool stuff VMware is bringing into the game, pushing the technology juggernaut farther and farther ahead of its rivals Hyper-V, Xen and Virtual Box.
And in the technology section of the newspaper yesterday, I saw news of Jaring OneCloud offering and one of the local IT players just brought in Joyent. Fantastic stuff! But for us in IT, we have been inundated with cloud, cloud and more cloud. The hype, the fuzz and the reality. It’s all there but back to our conversation. We realized that virtualization and cloud aren’t much without storage, the cornerstone of virtualization and cloud. And in the storage networking layer, there are the data management piece, the information infrastructure piece and so on and yet … why are there so few storage networking professional out there in our IT scene.
I have been lamenting this for a long time because we have been facing this problem for a long time. We are facing a shortage of qualified and well experienced storage networking professionals. There are plenty of jobs out there but not enough resources to meet the demand. As SNIA Malaysia Chairman, it is my duty to work with my committee members of HP, IBM, EMC, NetApp, Symantec and Cisco to create the awareness, and more importantly the passion to get the local IT’s storage networking professional voice together. It has been challenging but my advice to all those people out there – “Why be ordinary when you can become extra-ordinary?”
We have to make others realize that storage networking is what makes virtualization and cloud happen. Join us at SNIA Malaysia and be part of something extra-ordinary. Storage networking IS the foundation of virtualization and cloud. You can’t exclude it.