Competition Is Mounting for Systems Engineering Skill Sets

Enterprise and network architects, listen up: Your skills are a hot commodity as companies mount new initiatives in automating and virtualizing the data center and desktop.

Increases to project funding and investment in new technology initiatives are driving demand for technology skills this quarter, according to reports from IT staffing firms such as TEKsystems and analyses on IT spending from Forrester.

An early August report from Hanover, Md.-based TEKsystems found that 59 percent of companies expect to have increasing project needs over the coming six months and that hiring for those needs will climb 6 percent from the previous quarter.
"Given the uptick we're seeing in permanent hires, organizations are likely coming to the realization that the skill sets required for current projects will be needed in-house to maintain [the] new technologies [for a] longer term," said TEKsystems' market research manager Tania Lavin in an August 3 statement.
Skills in demand include enterprise architecture, security, networking and database administration, with project investment in mobile applications, business intelligence, virtualization and unified communications, said TEKsystems.
While 2009 and much of the first half of 2010 has been about maintaining current infrastructure and keeping the damper tight on costs, new project initiatives have gained steam in the second quarter, according to research from Forrester. Thirty percent of combined capital and operating budgets was allocated to new projects this year, and another 18 percent supported capacity expansion for business growth. While half of budgets are still allocated to maintenance and ongoing operations, these expansion efforts in new initiatives are noteworthy.
Forrester noted in July that the typical 70/30 percent split between maintenance of infrastructure and operations to investment was shifting. From the report "Focus Your I&O Budget on Three Key Initiatives," analyst Robert Whiteley wrote:
"Thirty-six percent of budget holders told us they were going to increase both storage and server spend by 5 percent or more, and 33 percent indicated they'd increase network spend by 5 percent or more. The key is not to spend this money in the traditional siloed approach. New converged infrastructure combines server, storage and network in a single chassis. This unified approach helps transform the economics of running your data center."
Forrester also advised on productivity benefits from automation, migrating to Windows 7, virtualizing desktop operations, and using on-demand infrastructure services from the likes of cloud operators.