Military Veterans Power Data Center Boom

The explosion in cloud technologies is creating a boom in data centers.

The explosion in cloud technologies is creating a boom in data centers. That’s because data centers bring the cloud to life by processing, storing, and distributing the vast amounts of data within the cloud. There’s a problem, however: a growing shortage of qualified people to build, maintain, and keep data centers running.

60% of data center owners and operators polled by the Uptime Institute said they have trouble recruiting and holding onto staff. What’s more, thanks to an overall tight job market, an aging workforce, and a high growth rate for the industry, “staffing shortfalls show few signs of easing.” That’s the conclusion of the Institute’s 2019 Operational Skills Shortage report.

Even so, leading data center owners and operators have found a way forward: recruit military veterans to fill critical roles. “Military veterans are equipped with the most important attributes we look for in our employees: a mission-critical mindset, discipline, and ability to work in teams,” Steven Holland, Vice President of Solutions for T5 Data Centers explains.

Ramping Up With Help

In the latter half of 2019, T5 Data Centers launched a ramp-up in data center construction. It took on major new contracts and consulting agreements with corporate data center customers in both the U.S. and Europe.

As T5 President and CEO Pete Marin said in a recent announcement, “We know how to build and operate our own data centers, and we are taking what we have learned…to help other organizations achieve the same degree of reliability and performance.”

Veterans blogTo make it all work, T5 went on a hiring spree. The company aims to double more than the staff of 150 it had at the beginning of the year to surpass 400 by year-end. The new hires include electricians, HVAC mechanics, building control systems technicians, data center equipment technicians, and managers.

Despite staffing challenges faced by the industry overall, T5 is meeting its recruiting goals. “Our ability to retain and hire qualified data center technicians in a highly competitive market is one of our strongest differentiators,” Holland says. And veterans are a big reason for the company’s success in this area.

Former military personnel comprise most—over 60%—of T5’s workforce. Given their strong commitment and sense of mission, the vets help keep T5’s overall attrition rate low. Holland adds, “The veterans we hire have received military training that builds skills and knowledge that transition effectively to data center work.”

Building the Future

In 2018, T5 built or operated 11 data centers. That number is up to 14 today, and the company plans to nearly double the 2018 number to 20 in 2020. Fueling all that growth is a partnership with Canadian real estate company QuadReal announced early in 2019. Together, T5 and QuadReal will oversee $2.5 billion worth of data center construction.

It’s all part of meeting the cloud computing needs of the future. A future that will continue to be driven by veterans.

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