Working in data centers


The Dutch data center industry is a growing source of employment. The labor market is changing rapidly with the digitization of our economy. Almost all digital applications come from or are located in data centers. Because society and the Dutch economy are increasingly driven online, the data center sector is also growing strongly. In recent years with more than 15% per year. Working in a data center therefore offers enormous opportunities for starters and professionals who want to contribute to the development of the Internet and the latest developments in digital applications such as Cloud Computing, 5G, IoT, AI and Augmented and Virtual Reality.

There is a large diversity of staff working in and around data centers. This includes technical functions, management functions, commercial functions and support functions. A total of 4.800 people are employed at the Dutch data centers themselves. In addition, data centers often hire staff – think of security personnel, for example – and data center customers and suppliers also need a lot of crew. More than 1,000 people are sometimes involved in the construction of a capital-intensive, large data center. In total, data centers create 12.800 jobs in 2019 and this is estimated to grow to 16.500 jobs in 2024.

Working in the data center industry means working on the quality and development of the internet. Below you find the top six reasons to work in a data center, based on interviews with people from the industry.

You work at the forefront of digitization and innovation
Cloud, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Robotics, Virtual Reality … digital technology is everywhere and is developing at an incredibly high pace. All these technologies are literally housed in data centers. Working in the data center industry means working at the forefront of digital innovation. The data center is therefore the ideal working environment for gadget freaks; you always work with the latest techniques.

You are guaranteed to get a job
You are guaranteed to get a job in the data center sector – now and in the future! In contrast to many other sectors, automation does not lead to the distinguishment of jobs. Rather, it generated extra jobs. After all, the world is only becoming more digital and that means that data centers also continue to grow strongly. When entering the sector, you get access to a large diversity of companies in the data center ecosystem. Choosing a career in the data center sector therefore means a golden future with job security.

You work for a large company, but in small teams
Data centers are unique in the sense that they are huge companies in terms of size and capital, however with regard to work, employees often operate in small teams. Because even although an enormous amount of expertise is required to maintain a colocation or hyperscale data center, the team that is present daily is relatively small. Together with the other departments you fulfill an important task, which is to keep the internet running. Everything is focused on continuity and reliability. Because of this interdependence, you build a special bond together as a team, creating a family atmosphere. The lines are generally short and usually there is a flat structure with little hierarchy.

Many training and career opportunities
The data center is a unique crossroads of all kinds of different technologies. That makes it incredibly interesting, and at the same time it means that almost every starter needs extra training to get started. In addition, data centers are always working with the latest techniques and equipment, making continuous training and education of employees the normal course of events. That means that a data center is certainly also a training company. The following applies: the more you master all these different areas of expertise, the more you can climb within the organization.

Attractive salary with good conditions
With the Amsterdam region, the Netherlands has one of the largest data center hubs in Europe, making it an important global player in the field of data centers. Regional data centers play an equally essential role in keeping all of the Netherlands digitally prosperous. It is therefore no surprise that it is a thriving industry where good salaries are offered to employees. In addition, the secondary employment conditions are also extremely good and plenty of drinks, events and conferences are being organized.

You have many paths to choose from

Are you almost done with your studies, and yet you still don’t know exactly which path to choose? Then there is no better starting point than a data center! The complexity and critical processes of data centers mean that everyone who gets started must have a broad knowledge of all installations and processes. Because you start as a generalist, this means that you can still go in any direction you like based on what draws to you most.

Data centers have a huge impact on the economy and employment. Below an overview of the employment rates.

Direct employment
Data centers generate an enormous amount of employment. In 2019, a total of more than 4.800 people were employed by the Dutch data centers themselves. This concerns technical functions such as facility engineers or technicians and security functions such as security guards or safety specialists. In a data center you can also get started at the customer service department as a help desk employee or service delivery manager, or you can choose a commercial route as an account manager, business developer or marketer. In addition to countless project managers, the back-office of a data center also employs HR staff, legal specialists and financial controllers.


Indirect employment
In addition to a data center’s own staff, data centers also create employment in an indirect way. Indeed, data centers often  hire a lot of staff from third parties – this is often the case for security guards – and data center customers and suppliers also need crew. Because Dutch data centers are growing fast, many employees are needed, particularly in the construction and installation sector.

Total employment
In addition to direct and indirect employment, there is also an induced effect. This is the impact of employee spending on the local economy and employment; data center employees in the Netherlands spend their salaries locally on housing, shops, catering and other matters. After calculating all variables, we estimate that a total of almost 12.800 jobs is created by data centers in the Netherlands, and this number is expected to grow to 16.500 jobs in 2024.

There are few jobs that are as diverse as the ones in a data center. This is due to the different fields of knowledge any employee needs to possess. The most important are described below.

Digital technology & innovation
Data centers exist thanks to the demand of customers that prefer their IT systems and applications to be managed professionally. Internet service vendors (ISVs), cloud providers and direct customers all have different needs in a disruptive market. To support the customer, data center staff is up-to-date on the most innovative digital technologies.

Technical equipment
A data center is a highly technical building. The technical facilities, including data infrastructure, cooling and electricity, must be in perfect condition, efficiently managed and regularly updated as to continue to comply with the latest standards and regulations.

Power supply
Power of energy is both the most important “fuel” and the highest cost item for data centers. The less power data centers use, the lower the costs and the better it is for the environment. It is therefore very important that data center employees have up-to-date knowledge of (green) energy pricing, energy laws and regulations, energy efficiency .

It is precisely because of the enormous amounts of power that a data center consumes, that it is a frontrunner in sustainability practices. 80% of the sector is now running on green energy, all systems in the data centers are designed to be as energy efficient as possible, and in the construction and renovation process of data centers, there is an increasing focus on the reuse of residual data center heat. Sustainability is part of the DNA of data centers and therefore also the knowledge of the employees.

A data center must be extremely secure to earn the trust of its customers. Data center premises are guarded with advanced fencing and secured with detection gates, CCTV and 24/7 guards. In addition, strict security measures and processes are necessary to maintain the trust of its consumers.

Data centers are crossroads of connectivity. Extensive knowledge of Fiber carriers, Backbone providers, CDNs and Internet Exchanges is required. This, together with other connectivity such as cloud, ads, mobile data, media exchange and knowledge of (in-house) patching.

Real estate
A data center is also known as “digital real estate”. A data center rents out an amount of racks, which is called retail rental. Some customers desire even a full section of the data center. The latter is called wholesale rental.

Data centers are expensive to build, and house valuable equipment. The costs for a large data center are often more than 150 million euros. Hyperscale data centers can even exceed 1 billion euros. These huge investments require excellent data center expertise from the financial markets and the possibilities of, for example, financial lease constructions.

In the field of data it is common to get certification in different areas. If a data center houses mission-critical IT systems, it wants to give its customers the assurance that it meets certain requirements. Certain standard processes and procedures that data centers must comply to are part of these certifications.

The most important certifications are:

IS0 27001 Information security management
ISO 9001 Quality management
ISO 14001 Environmental management
PCI-DSS Credit card payments
SOC1 Financial and internal controls are covered by ISAE3402 / SSAE16 (prev. SAS70)
LEED / BREEAM Green building certification

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