Even though the successful installation of network cable infrastructure is vital for the effective operation of critical organisations, Andrew Stevens, President and CEO, CNet Training, says its importance is not fully recognised. He tells us about the vital role of training to ensure customers can feel totally confident about the quality of installation.
Can you outline the regulations – or lack of – surrounding [network] data centre infrastructure at present?
It’s quite an alarming fact to know that there are no regulations around network cable infrastructure installation and even more alarming when you realise that anyone can be responsible for installing the infrastructure that we all rely on in our personal and business lives.
It’s often the case that network infrastructure is simply not considered or is deemed as low tech, when in fact it is essential in many critical situations; air traffic control, hospitals, traffic lights, communication…
What happens when they go wrong? Industry needs to recognise network cabling infrastructure as the fourth utility and give it the importance it deserves.
There should be tighter regulation to help increase quality of service, be more professional generally and allow customers to feel more confident and trust the quality of the installation. This is in addition to helping to safeguard the industry, making it more attractive for new talent, after all we are in competition with other industries to attract good people.
What are the potential implications of this?
If the network cable infrastructure is not installed correctly and it goes wrong it is hugely costly and inconvenient – you only need to read the press about the impact of cancelled flights, accessibility to online apps, lock outs on government systems, the list goes on… This is without considering any legal implications that could occur, increasing costs even more and absorbing valuable time. Sure, not all outages are caused by the network infrastructure failure as human error comes into it too, however it does highlight several gaps that could be filled relatively easily with regulation/certification.
Many deem regulation as being a time-consuming paper exercise. However it is needed. You wouldn’t dream of being an electrician without having the right certifications, it should be the same for those working within network cabling considering the importance of the task being carried out. Everyone talks about quality of installation but how do we currently know the installers have adopted the current standards and codes of practice during the install?
It could be self-regulated. However, this would involve the entire industry working together to agree processes that would work for all. Creating our own benchmark as a minimum and this being accepted and recognised throughout the industry is the first step.
Yes, it would need to be policed and externally, otherwise it has no value whatsoever. This echoes previous discussions about the need for a trusted trade association that could take this on, put the processes in place and manage it for everyone, effectively becoming the central watchdog for all.
Government regulation may occur in the future, as public awareness focuses more on connectivity, I believe the penny will drop soon within government, and as an industry we would be in a far stronger position if we already have effective self-regulation in place.
How can this risk be reduced by having professionally certified teams?
Every business claims that its people are their most important asset and the primary driver of success. But, how many organisations genuinely have a structured investment programme in training and on-going education for mission-critical people? People are the very lifeblood of any business and organisations need to understand this in order to continue to thrive.
The business case to invest in on-going professional development and certification for existing teams is strong. By harnessing current skills and embarking on a structured approach to career development, in the form of new learning and skills development enhanced by professional qualifications and industry recognised certification, data centre managers can be confident that the data centre is in the right technical hands. They will also benefit from:
- Increased quality of service to clients
- Increased confidence in your teams
- Increased competitive advantage
- Reduced people related risk
- Staff retention and loyalty
- Enhanced employee satisfaction and increased morale
- Increased employee contributions due to the added confidence and new skills after training
- Training/certification return on investment
The organisation would also prove to be a more attractive employer to potential new staff. This competitive edge could allow the organisation to be confident and therefore help attract the highest calibre talent.
How would you describe current attitudes towards ongoing education?
Attitudes vary on this one. For example, in the Middle East we have found that industry professionals are proud of their achievements and really value their certificates. In the U.S. there seems to be a culture of life-long learning, where it is the norm to continue to enhance knowledge, skills and professional certifications. By contrast, within the UK, the request for training or education is often seen as a weakness, whereby instead of seeing the positivity of the outcomes of new learning, it is looked upon negatively as having to fill the gap when skills and knowledge are lacking.
However generally, I think the industry is listening, but I think there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure companies understand what a qualification is and how they differ to certifications. More importantly, is that there is still a lack of understanding surrounding the benefits that a skilled, knowledgeable and well-trained workforce will bring to an organisation, it can drive profit and it can go straight to the bottom line.
Why is ongoing technical development so crucial?
Within fast-moving technical environments, such as the data centre industry, there is a need to adopt a positive attitude towards training and on-going professional development. Only then will professionals have the opportunity to learn how to embrace the new and emerging technologies and this will, in turn, benefit the organisation.
Can you outline the alliance with CBRE and the advantages this will bring?
This is another big industry first for CNet Training and we are delighted to be part of such a huge global commitment to education and professional development with CBRE Data Centre Solutions.
CBRE has committed to certifying 100% of its global technical workforce. Through a strategic alliance with CNet, we will work together to deliver a comprehensive training and development programme that requires each data centre technician to achieve the highly respected Certified Data Centre Technician Professional (CDCTP®) certification and therefore help to be recognised as the most skilled and knowledgeable data centre technical team in the world.
CBRE already has an exceptional global team and a solid reputation for nurturing and progressing staff, and this commitment to official certification has raised the bar even further. I believe no other organisation has committed to demonstrating that their data centre technicians are the best in the world and proving it with 100% CDCTP® certification. We forecast that the project will take two years to complete, it’s a monumental project and one we are delighted to be part of.
CBRE are leading the way by ensuring that they are nurturing and encouraging its entire technical team to progress within the industry. This is a move away from most companies who tend to select just a few throughout their team to invest in and put through education and development programmes to gain certification and qualifications.
This commitment from CBRE give its staff the personal and progression development to enhance their career and make them stand out from the rest. This puts CBRE in a very strong position, they will continue to lead the way in data centre management and operational excellence and challenge the rest of the industry to step up.