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Boom in bytes requires storage pros

Published on Thursday, 12 Jul 2012
Andrew Sampson
Photo: Berton Chang

Modern workplaces need more space – and lots of it. Not for new desks or meeting rooms or coffee machines, but for data storage. The vast amounts of e-mails, documents, graphics, multimedia files and applications that run a business – and the multiple backups required – create a need for ever more increasing amounts of disc space. Companies big and small are investing in data-storage solutions that include both storage facilities and people who can manage the data efficiently.

“Every day, companies are storing more data. Even though economies around the world are having difficulties, we are still seeing the storage industry grow,” says Andrew Sampson, vice-president of managed services for Asia-Pacific, and general manager for Hong Kong and Macau at Hitachi Data Systems (HDS).

To deal with the massive amounts of data businesses produce every day, HDS provides managed services to clients on the infrastructure level. Its main objective is to help manage clients’ storage on a pay-per-use basis.

“We manage their data in their data centre, or someone else’s data centre, and we only charge them for what they use,” Sampson says. “We are seeing more and more customers use managed services.”

One of the reasons behind the strong growth in the data-storage industry is new regulations. Sampson says many financial-services and health-care companies are not allowed to delete their data, under government law. “We are creating more data and not removing it,” he says.

HDS was named one of Fortune magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” this year. It has about 90 people in its Hong Kong office that look after its regional and local functions. It is now looking for data-storage engineers as well as sales people as a result of the industry’s rapid growth.

Engineers are classified in terms of pre-sales and post-sales. Pre-sales engineers are architects and designers who work with customers to develop a storage architecture that meets their requirements.

Post-sales engineers fall into three areas of services: managed services cover the daily operations of customer equipment, professional services involve one-off projects such as data migration or IT-backup assessments, while customer engineering or customer services manage the routine maintenance of systems.

Sampson says that HDS is always looking for staff with a combination of the right skills and the right attitude and experience. “[But] it has not been easy finding the right people,” he says. “At the moment, there is more demand than supply.”

He says there is a tendency in the IT industry for companies to only hire experienced people because they want to see quick results. “A lot of the big IT firms work on a quarterly basis, so a lot of people think about how to meet targets in the next three months. When hiring, they tend to want people who can produce results, now.”

Sampson started his career in Hong Kong with IBM. Having been trained himself for 18 months at the start of his career, he very much believes in bringing up young talent with mentoring and training.

“We are working with universities to bring in summer interns. The company also has something called the ‘Eagle Programme’ for people with less experience,” he says.

The Eagle Programme was introduced in the United States last year and was brought to the Asia-Pacific region this year. It is aimed at hiring people who are either fresh out of university or have less experience than normally required.

In Hong Kong, HDS has just hired its first couple of “eagles” in the post-sales engineering area.

“They will receive mentoring with someone who is more experienced and we will help them get to the stage where they can then join the company as an engineer,” Sampson says.  


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