No folks, I am not a heretic. But the continuing evolution of technology begs the question of whether the IT-facilities divide of the past will simply disappear. At companies that have successfully managed to integrate IT and facilities, the facilities side seems to fade somewhat as IT refocuses as a purchaser of services rather than a provider of services. For sure, the “XaaS” (pronounced “zass” for anything and everything as a service) mentality is taking over a large part of the IT world.

IT is already fully enveloped in acronymns such as SaaS—software as a service, PaaS—platform as a service, IaaS—infrastructure as a service, and NaaS—network as a service describing specific service types. Further, these XaaS offerings are rapidly maturing and combining to form enhanced offerings like SPI that merge SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS into a single service offering.

All these offerings generally fall under what has become the accursed “C” word known as the cloud. The cloud is increasingly getting emotional reactions as it drives user companies to outsource its hardware, software, support, and maintenance to multiple third-party virtual companies. While the cloud has created thousands of new jobs in multiple industries around cloud services and support, these jobs have come at the expense of many traditional positions in IT and facilities. So as IT migrates to the cloud, it is becoming less dependent on facilities support. Furthermore, new companies may never have a data center and thus never need data center facilities support.

The market is changing and evolving, and the mission-critical facilities responsibilities are migrating from traditional company roles to cloud technology companies where the responsibilities are greatly expanded and the support staff is significantly reduced. The expanded responsibilities demand more highly educated people capable of handling a broader spectrum of duties from housekeeping and UPS maintenance to data cabling and DCIM programs in the name of doing more with less.

So what does that mean for those in the traditional mission-critical roles?

First, it means that the mission-critical manager of the future will be experienced in more data center operations than in the past. Being a facilities expert will no longer be sufficient as skills in networking, hardware, and software take on greater importance.  Next it means that the future mission-critical manager role will demand greater interpersonal skills as he/she takes on greater direct end user interfacing. Lastly, it means greater competition coming from non-facilities personnel for fewer positions whose roles are also being consolidated with those of the mission critical facilities manager.

Eventually this will all give way to a new level of mission-critical professionalism that will transcend the traditional concepts of mission-critical roles to include a wider base of knowledge with greater skill sets incorporating multiple IT and facility proficiencies.

This is an evolving market. It will not happen in mass overnight but will advance over time. It may take a decade, a few years, or after the next generation of technology deployment. The questions are:

  • Are you ready?
  • Have you been expanding your skill sets?
  • What will be the mix of skills and experience that will be in the greatest demand?


Every maturing industry before us has seen its traditional roles redefined. The mission-critical industry is no different, but as much as these redefinitions create challenges they also create opportunities for those who embrace the changing times. Unless you are about to retire, can you afford to be considered a relic from the past—even if that past was just last year?