Data Center Skillset

Founder and CEO of Compass Datacenters, Chris Crosby, is a noted speaker at theCritical Facilities Summit, on September 29th through October 1st at the Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, N.C. The Critical Facilities Summit recently spoke with Crosby about the role of data center facility professionals and how that role has evolved over the years. Crosby’s presentation will provide insight to attendees on understanding how data center management is changing and what that means for them.


Critical Facilities Summit: How has the role of data center facility professionals changed over the years?

Chris Crosby: Innovation in terms of the applications that run within data centers, as well as the facilities themselves, continue to rapidly evolve. Five years ago, for example, wholesale data centers tended to be located in just five or six metro areas in the US, but innovation in building methodologies, etc. are now enabling customers to have their data centers delivered in locations that are not traditional “data center” markets. This has led to an increased need for data center professionals to be familiar with not just the technical aspect of the business. For example, real estate is now an area where they need to be conversant. Within the facility, enhancements like virtualization and the cloud are now placing greater pressure on data center personnel to track and manage their equipment and the applications that they support. You can’t track things on a spreadsheet anymore. Thus, today’s data center professional must be much better versed in the things like the management aspects of the facility than they were just a few years ago. The end result of this continued evolution is the need for professionals to continually be enhancing their skill sets.

CFS: What is the best mix of skills for today’s mission critical facility management career? 

Crosby: An individual seeking to embark on a mission critical facility management career today needs to be well versed in both the technical and business side of the business. This means a solid background in areas like engineering and finance to make them the well rounded individuals the industry needs today. Just a strong technical background will no longer be enough to successfully operate in today’s data center environment.

CFS: What does the future hold for the mission critical job market?

Crosby: The world continues to migrate to an information based economy. The need for data to flow across global boundaries in near instantaneous fashion will continue to drive the need for more processing and storage capability and data centers are the home for that equipment and the corresponding applications that they do (will support). As a result, we can expect to see a continual increase in the demand for the professionals required to staff these facilities.

CFS: How would you suggest implementing a new skillset for data centers already in place?

Crosby: Fortunately for today’s data center professionals the need for continuing education to enable them to continue to successfully operate increasingly complex facilities is being recognized by leading educational institutions like SMU. Through programs like their new MS in Data Center Engineering today’s professional has more and more options to augment their capabilities while continuing in their present positions. Thus, the necessary new skill sets can be cultivated without any disruption to their current work environments and with no degradation in the level of support they currently provide their organizations.

CFS: You will be presenting “The Data Center Skillset” at the Critical Facilities Summit. What is the biggest takeaway attendees can receive from participating in this session?

Crosby: I think that the biggest takeaways that attendees can expect to walk away with are:

  • Understanding how data centers are changing
  • What these changes mean for them
  • The skills they will need to continue to advance their own careers and the avenues available to obtain them.

In short, they will see that mission critical data centers and their operation has become a distinct profession and how that recognition is manifesting itself in formal programs of education.

Chris Crosby will also be part of the General Sessions presentation, “Game Changers: What’s Impacting Data Centers Today … and Tomorrow?” on October 1st. To hear more from Crosby and other presenters, join us at the Critical Facilities Summit on September 29 through October 1 at the Charlotte Convention Center. For full agenda details, visit