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Data centers may soon emulate Indian IT services firms in tech hiring

Data centers may soon emulate Indian IT services firms in tech hiring
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India’s booming data center industry may soon emulate the Indian IT services sector in terms of job offers. Data centres, which are of strategic importance to digital infrastructure and in securing data by localization, are expected to grow 7-10 times in the next five years, spawning thousands of new job opportunities for technology professionals.

Prominent employers seeking data center talent include firms such as Dell, Accenture, NTT Global, IBM, Flipkart, ICICI, Capgemini, Wells Fargo, Oracle, Bharti Airtel and more. 

Enterprise data center functions and commercial cloud service businesses of large players like Google, Amazon and Microsoft are also expected to provide regular intake of talent and replacement hiring. In addition, commercial data centers will also have demand for non-tech talent in customer facing and support roles.

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Manoj Paul, managing director of American data center firm Equinix, said the industry will require systems engineers, and skilled employees to manage equipment, network managers, and product managers, along with admin staff. “There will be opportunities for employment from the construction stage of data centers till finally running them on an everyday basis,” he added.

Data sourced from specialist staffing firm Xpheno show that more than 8000 positions have been listed by the industry in the last two weeks alone. 

Kamal Karanth, co-founder of Xpheno, believes the workforce demand will grow even more as the industry is expected to nearly double its capacity in the next two years. The current installed capacity of data centers across Mumbai, Chennai, Pune, Hyderabad, Delhi NCR, Bengaluru and Kolkata is over 10.5 million square feet and around 500 MW.

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This capacity, according to Karanth, is expected to increase by another six million square feet and to 990 MW in the next two years. He noted that while the overall workforce may not grow at the same rate, a prominent spike is still on the cards.

The grant of infrastructure status to the data centre industry in the Union budget proposals made on February 1 is only expected to boost this demand.

Sanchit Vir Gogia, chief analyst and founder of Greyhound Research, corroborated that the momentum for data centers is expected to grow significantly by 2025. He added that the government has to “ensure the confluence of factors” like providing adequate power supply and passing of the Data Protection Bill in order for data centers to grow.

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The existing supply of talent for IT services companies will play a role in hiring in the data center sector. “India also has a pool of chief information officers (CIOs) and tech teams at the user end that have, for the longest time, been trained on data centre architecture,” Gogia explained.

Data centre investments in India are expected to reach $4.6 billion per annum by 2025, according to report by Nasscom from last year. The report added that Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Delhi NCR are amongst the major data centre locations in the country, on the back of good fiber connectivity, proximity to customers, availability of skilled workforce, and submarine cable connectivity.

The report also noted that availability of skilled workforce is one of the major site selection criteria for data center development and operations. “Engineering skill shortage is a major challenge in developed data center markets such as North America and Western Europe, where it is a benefit for India to position itself as a major data centre hub,” the report said.

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That said, the demand is only set to rapidly increase. “India needs 7-10 times more data center capacity than what is available today to match the size and scale of mature global markets, despite a reasonable capacity addition in the last five years,” said Sunil Gupta, chief executive officer of Yotta Infrastructure. Yotta expects to add over 1000 employees to run its data centre facilities and provide customer facing services. In addition, the company plans to add 2500 indirect resources for construction of data centers over the next two years.

According to Gupta, the company expects to invest over Rs. 15,000 crore over the next 5-7 years in creating massive business critical data centers, providing cloud networking and other information technology infrastructure.