Recently, Becky Cole and Bill Thomson of DC BLOX joined the StrategITcom podcast to discuss their career paths, as well as the plethora of opportunities to be found in data centers, both in a professional and career setting.
DC BLOX, as a multi-tenant data center operator in the Southeast, focuses on delivering mission-critical data center capabilities beyond the major metropolitan hubs. While there’s plenty of business and opportunity in these larger cities, smaller markets may not have the same population density, and therefore they don’t often get the same level of IT infrastructure investment. Still, with everyone demanding greater tech capabilities regardless of location, having critical IT infrastructure within reach is absolutely vital.
In order to keep pace with evolving mobile applications, IoT capabilities, AI applications or other demands for more data on a shorter timeline, keeping data local is important and delivering equitable opportunity is key. DC BLOX has looked at cities throughout the Southeast (such as Chattanooga, AL, Huntsville, AL, and recently Greenville, SC), recognizing that while the business needs in those markets are no different than the major cities, they remain underserved. To meet growing demands and help customers succeed in their digital transformation goals, DC BLOX builds smaller scale data centers to meet the size of the market with the same Tier III, high-performance capabilities that major metros receive.
Bill states, “It’s very expensive to build and to maintain data centers. Currently, the only options for organizations in these underserved markets are to put up with long drives to colocation data centers in the nearest NFL city, settle for second-rate local facilities, or build their own data centers. However, DC BLOX builds these data centers in secondary markets. Being local is a big deal, and the markets have been very responsive to us.”
In taking these data centers to markets that need them, they’re bringing more than just business opportunities, they’re bringing employment to new communities — where there’s a new facility, there’s new jobs. Furthermore, the changing work-from-home landscape means these jobs may look different than they previously did, and it means approaching IT may be different going forward.
Bill continues, “Well, clearly, there are a lot more folks who are working from home than we’ve ever seen before. A lot of businesses obviously are trying to avoid bringing their employees into the office where there might be risks of infection. Many companies are building VPNs, adapting new video conferencing solutions, and also teaching teams about tools they may have never used before.”
So, how can individuals break into and succeed in the evolving data center sphere? Well luckily, there are a lot of skills that are transferable from other industries — sales and marketing, to name a couple, both of which are core to DC BLOX’s success as they expand into new markets and attract tenants. From a technical and operations perspective, skills may include cabling or connecting network infrastructure, which can come from adjacent industries across telecommunications or can even be taught directly from a data center training company. Design and engineering skills can be applied to jobs that operate and maintain core systems like power, cooling and HVAC, and facilities management and commercial real estate skills have a lot of overlap here as well.
While getting into the data center field isn’t something that many may think of, and it can be a bit of a niche area to tap into, these jobs are in need of personnel that have the skills to support this crucial infrastructure — and DC BLOX is looking for locals. So what do Bill and Becky recommend? Broadening horizons through online classes, getting certifications and keeping an eye out for data center jobs pays dividends. Becky adds, “The certification programs tend to be a lot more tailored… whereas, [at a standard college] it’s such a broad overview of topics, and you never really get to fully specialize in one area.”
Technology is constantly changing, and so you need fresh information on all of the equipment, the networking, and the systems that go into the data center. Securing a data center career means having cutting-edge knowledge, and certifications tend to offer more relevant, specific knowledge that data centers are in real need of. Becky concludes, “If you’re even considering that data centers might be an option…I would start by attending some of the networking events. They’re all virtual now so they’re much easier to attend. That will kind of let you dip your toe in and gauge what people are talking about, what technologies they might be talking about, what the trends are and just see if it’s something that’s interesting to you.”
You can find the full discussion at https://strategitcom.libsyn.com/bill-thomson-and-becky-cole-dc-blox.