Your shout: IT skills, SLAs, datacentres

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IT should open its arms to non-technical recruits

Sandra Smith, Head of information systems, Toshiba

I agree that business and education must work together to help bridge the IT skills gap. One answer to the problem is to employ and train graduates and non-graduates from a much broader degree spectrum, beyond traditional IT qualifications.

A non-technical degree can be just as valuable as an IT, mathematical or scientific one, if it teaches graduates self-discipline, team-working and cognitive skills. With blurred boundaries between technical and non-technical roles, the softer skills are becoming necessary earlier in IT careers.

The government has to some extent responded to this, having introduced IT degrees encompassing job-specific technical skills and core non-technical skills. But more UK companies need to offer apprenticeships to their new workers to give them hands-on experience in the workplace.

Ultimately, IT departments need to take responsibility for attracting and recruiting a wider range of graduates, school-leavers and existing workers, and for providing support, training and relevant experience for them.

With a bit of foresight and some willingness to invest in people, it really should be feasible to turn the skills shortage around.

Bring the penalties for breaching SLAs into line

Paul Carter Hemlin, Blake Newport

I agree with Bill Goodwin's article "Too many SLAs don't measure up" - IT contracts all too often suffer from an overdose of service level agreements (SLAs).

Although I also believe that if applied correctly SLAs can be more "carrot than stick" in incentivising a supplier's performance, does the issue not lie equally with the sums at risk for failure, which are significantly lower in IT and telecommunications contracts than in other industries?

Take a typical construction contract. Liquidated damages are often payable in the event of a delay or default in performance these are damages that are calculated and agreed at the time of entering the contract and are a genuine pre-estimate of loss. If a £15m supermarket is delayed, for instance, the contractor could find itself out of pocket for anything up to £250,000 per week.

True, the consequences of a breach of an IT service contract are less predictable and usually less absolute, but the fact remains that they are also all too often removed from the commercial norm. Is it not about time that performance, responsibility, risk, and reward went hand in hand?

Keep the doors closed and costs down in datacentres

Russell Stevens, Regional director, Avocent

I read with interest your article "Want to cut costs? Then go green".

There are a number of simple steps that organisations should take to reduce the energy used as a result of running their datacentre.

Datacentre activity accounts for a significant proportion of the overall IT carbon footprint. Indeed, the draft Climate Change Bill, released in March, identified that datacentres consume 1.5% of all UK electricity.

Although not a new concept in the datacentre world, taking a "lights out" approach is not only a by-product of remote management capabilities but, if followed, will significantly reduce energy used and in turn carbon emissions produced.

Overheating and cooling of equipment in the datacentre is still a key concern for businesses. One way to regulate the temperature and get the most out of air-conditioning systems is to keep the doors closed to allow for better heat regulation. Having staff regularly walk in and out of the datacentre will require the air-conditioning to work faster and use more power to stop equipment overheating.

With the arrival of the mega datacentre and the expected rise in the capacity and energy needs of big business, looking at putting in place a more efficient IT infrastructure and making changes to wider businesses processes will all help towards reducing the amount of energy used.

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