Ten Storage-Related Jobs You Don’t Want

Plus a few you might want to think about

My editor has observed that articles about jobs and careers are hot right now—testimony to the state of the economy, uncertainty about the future, and tightly constrained IT budgets.

Here is my take on the top ten storage-related jobs that you probably want to avoid, followed by a few you might want to consider.

#10: Storage tradeshow developer

Audience development is often a thankless job made worse as few companies are springing for their employees to take a couple of days off at a golf resort in Phoenix or a casino hotel in Vegas. (Shows that have adopted a multi-city tour rather than a big bang event approach have seen better overall attendance.)

Vendor/sponsor recruitment is also a pain. Storage vendors know all about the drop-off in attendance and, facing some budgetary constraints themselves, most are less inclined to spend their marketing nut on big pavilions or pricey displays. Those that still display have pared down their giveaways to stuff nobody really wants, like pens, key chain fobs and luggage tags. No more furry cubes that say “Yotta, Yotta” when you smack them together, and no more stunningly attractive booth attendants. Bottom line: the salad days are over.

#9: Fibre Channel Tape Drive Developer

The word is out that Gigabit Ethernet is a lot more friendly to tape streams than Fibre Channel. Less bang for the buck makes FC tape a loser.

#8: Hard Disk Liquid Bearings Designer

A couple of 50-gallon drums of the stuff are enough for the whole industry.

#7: SCSI or ATA Array Specialist

Serial SCSI and Serial ATA will soon eclipse your career prospects. Jump on the serial bandwagon immediately.

#6: File System Designer

No one wants yet another scalable file system and the operating system folks such as Microsoft plan to do away with theirs.

#5: RAIN Architect

Despite the fact that the acronym for “Redundant Arrays of Independent Nodes” is now a trademark of Avamar Technologies and keeps popping up on storage Web pages and white papers, it doesn’t mean anything. There is no definitive reference for RAIN such as the white paper from Berkeley that defined RAID many years ago. If you want to do RAIN, take a plane to Spain.

#4: Common Storage Model Developer

This is the harbinger of storage commoditization and the industry knows it. CSM will not happen in anyone’s lifetime.

#3: Common Information Model Web-Based Enterprise Management (CIM/WBEM) Developer

While an object-oriented storage management model is a great idea, and everyone pays it lip service, hard times have made many vendors slow their CIM implementation in favor of developing more proprietary SCSI inquiry strings that keep their boxes from working with their competitors or being virtualized and managed by a common management console. Besides, having CIM/WBEM Expert for a job title won’t get you a date on Friday night.

#2: Storage Industry Analyst

Hard times have made many analysts the indentured servants of vendors with deep pockets. Objectivity and integrity must be sacrificed in favor of a paycheck. After a while, if you have a conscience, it is difficult to bear the fact that your prognostications will always be wrong as they are based on inflated industry projections.

#1: Fibre Channel SAN Manager

You will take the heat when the solution delivers none of the promised business value and costs a heck of a lot more than what you thought. Your career path terminates in the exciting world of fast food.

Worth a Look

The storage jobs you may want consider pursuing include the following:

Grey-market reseller: Used gear is selling better than new gear. It’s cheaper and offers the preponderance of companies exactly what they need to get by in hard times.

Opportunities with big name outsourcing companies: If JP Morgan Chase’s $5 billion deal with IBM Global Services or Proctor & Gamble’s $3 billion arrangement with HP are any indication, the economic slowdown seems to be reinvigorating that old dictum: when the going gets tough, the tough try to outsource their IT problems (storage in particular). Tread carefully, however. The blush usually fades from this rose within a couple of years.

Storage carney: Watch the trade press, note which start-ups have received second- and third-round funding from the venture capital (VC) community, then travel from start-up to shut-down. Hey, if the VCs are going to throw bad money after good in a down storage market, why not help them spend it? Be careful not to stay too long at any one shop, however, and avoid drinking the Kool-Aid wherever you go, or you may gain a reputation as a jinx. Leaving before the ship sinks gives you bragging rights that you were the only guy there who knew what he was doing.

Storage-industry columnist. The pay isn’t great, and many vendors hate your guts, but you don’t have to sell your soul either.

About the Author

Jon William Toigo is chairman of The Data Management Institute, the CEO of data management consulting and research firm Toigo Partners International, as well as a contributing editor to Enterprise Systems and its Storage Strategies columnist. Mr. Toigo is the author of 14 books, including Disaster Recovery Planning, 3rd Edition, and The Holy Grail of Network Storage Management, both from Prentice Hall.