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Virtualization Experts in High Demand

I'm getting a few calls a week from headhunters seeking design and operational virtualization talent

Those with virtualization skills are in high demand right now.  That makes them just as difficult to retain as it is to find and hire them.  Indeed, as virtualization becomes more important to enterprise IT, those who understand VMWare, and other virtualization technology, as well as understand virtualization in general, are commanding top salaries and they are often recruited away from current employers.

Personally, I'm getting a few calls a week from headhunters seeking design and operational virtualization talent, even in the downturn when data centers are shrinking.  At the heart of the issue is that virtualization now touches all parts of the data center, the use cases are becoming more complex, and the operational value is mission-critical.

In responding to this need, many organizations have created virtualization centers of excellence with the hopes of creating new talent and becoming more attractive to virtualization experts.  Typically this means an investment that the IT leaders hope comes back to them quickly as virtualization becomes a larger part of the infrastructure, and the use of cloud computing and private clouds begins to become more pervasive.

So, how can you attract new virtualization talent?   The trick is to understand first that you have to pay for talent, and thus perhaps pay more than some of the existing players.  Talk to recruiters and candidates to understand more about expectations.  Beyond that, plan on paying retention and signing bonuses, and being creative around work/life issues, such as allowing a liberal telecommuting policy and a relaxed dress code.

So, if you're a virtualization expert, how can you find the best places to work?  Look for organizations that invest in your talent as well as IT.  Those organizations that seem to have a lot of turnover typically have that turnover for a good reason.  They're either too slow to promote, or do not provide competitive wages.

The core issue around virtualization is that virtualization goes well beyond simple network and system administration.  Many seek tradition "network administration" types, and they quickly find that the skills go far above the network.  There are many abstraction layers to consider, and virtualization is much more complex than traditional systems administration.  To this end, virtualization skills require that the ideal candidate be a jack-of-all-trades and a master of VMWare.

As the use of virtualization rapidly expands, the need for talent will expand with it.  At this point there are more positions chasing too few candidates, and that could mean salaries go up quickly for the core talent, or they settle for those who don't fully fit the bill.  Either way, it's going to cost more to maintain virtualization in 2009 and 2010.

More Stories By David Linthicum

Dave Linthicum is Sr. VP at Cloud Technology Partners, and an internationally known cloud computing and SOA expert. He is a sought-after consultant, speaker, and blogger. In his career, Dave has formed or enhanced many of the ideas behind modern distributed computing including EAI, B2B Application Integration, and SOA, approaches and technologies in wide use today. In addition, he is the Editor-in-Chief of SYS-CON's Virtualization Journal.

For the last 10 years, he has focused on the technology and strategies around cloud computing, including working with several cloud computing startups. His industry experience includes tenure as CTO and CEO of several successful software and cloud computing companies, and upper-level management positions in Fortune 500 companies. In addition, he was an associate professor of computer science for eight years, and continues to lecture at major technical colleges and universities, including University of Virginia and Arizona State University. He keynotes at many leading technology conferences, and has several well-read columns and blogs. Linthicum has authored 10 books, including the ground-breaking "Enterprise Application Integration" and "B2B Application Integration." You can reach him at david@bluemountainlabs.com. Or follow him on Twitter. Or view his profile on LinkedIn.

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