Data Center Staffing Drops Sharply

September, 2015

Data center staffing as a percentage of the typical IT workforce took a sharp drop over the past year in what could be part of a long-term trend as IT organization modernize data centers, outsource data center operations, and embrace software as a service.

As Figure 1 from our study, Server Support Staffing Ratios, shows, server support staffing as a percentage of the IT staff fell from a median of 9.1% in 2014 to 7.7% in 2015. This means data center staffing has lagged behind staffing growth in other areas.

Server S Fig 1 - Data Center Staffing Drops Sharply

Due to a change in our staffing categorization system in 2013, comparable data from earlier years is not available. However, trend analysis for the pre-2014 period indicates this downward movement has been ongoing since 2011, just as IT budgets and hiring began to recover. This decline indicates data center outsourcing, use of cloud applications and infrastructure, and rising productivity due to virtualization and automation technologies are beginning to take a toll on server support staffing levels.

Most IT organizations today have data centers where legacy systems co-exist with virtualized servers and even software-defined storage running atop commodity hardware. That makes optimal data center staffing a moving target. What is the standard level of server support staffing in today’s data center?

To answer that question, the full study provides four key metrics for benchmarking server support staff: server support staff as a percentage of the IT staff, users per server support staff member, OS instances per server support staff member, and physical servers per server support staff member. We provide benchmarks for small, midsize, and large organizations, as well as organization sector.

In this study, we use a broad definition for server support staff that covers the majority of employees in the data center. The category specifically includes systems administrators, systems programmers, systems engineers, storage administrators, and facilities engineers. It also includes computer operations staff, including computer operators, job schedulers, and production control personnel.

This Research Byte is based on our full study, Server Support Staffing Ratios. The full report is available at no charge for Computer Economics clients, or it may be purchased by non-clients directly from our website (click for pricing).

Do you also need staffing ratios for other IT job functions? Consider this collection of all of our staffing ratio reports, which bundles them all into a single report at a significant discount: IT Staffing Ratios–Special Report Bundle.