'Nobody is storing less data these days; everybody is storing more," says Brian Babineau, an analyst for Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) of Milford, MA. He has experience at EMC, the info management and storage leader. ESG's focus areas include application infrastructure and info security, management and storage.
Babineau notes that much data is being retained for regulatory purposes. SEC regs 17a-3 and 17a-4, Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA and the Patriot Act, he says, are critical factors driving demand for storage and secure access to data. He sees the storage industry placing increasing value on professionals who are also expert in security.
Robert Gray, storage systems research VP for research firm IDC (Framingham, MA), agrees that within the storage market, "Data protection is hot. A whole new architecture based on grids is coming onto the storage scene." Gray notes a considerable blending of storage and networking today, which he attributes partly to ex-networking people coming into storage.
Record growth promotes opportunities
IDC measured the growth of this industry segment in 2005. It found that the worldwide disk storage systems market grew at a record year-over-year rate of 13.3 percent.
All this growth undoubtedly means more employment opportunities. Evan Scott, founder and president of retained executive search firm Evan Scott Group International (Philadelphia, PA), says the storage job market remains strong despite industry consolidation. He notes special demand in the Washington, DC area for storage tech professionals with clearance to work on federal contracts in the private sector.
The storage tech professionals interviewed for this article are all close to the hardware or software that is part of their company's product or service. They all agree that storage is a good place to be, and share an optimistic outlook for the industry and their own careers. And they all happen to be women.
Kerry Mahoney: senior hardware design engineer at EMC
Kerry Mahoney joined EMC Corp (Hopkinton, MA), the info management and storage provider, when she was a co-op student at Northeastern University (Boston, MA). She was given a wonderful introduction to the field. She got to design test boards, measure signal integrity on disk mid-planes and document and analyze the results, and do initial inspection, power-up and basic testing of director boards.
She did such a great job that EMC offered her a job while she was still in school. She worked part-time for the company until she received her BSEE in 2001.
Mahoney is now a senior hardware design engineer, working on EMC's flagship Symmetrix storage box. She's a circuit board designer and tech lead, coordinating three Symmetrix gigabit Ethernet/iSCSI printed circuit boards as they move through design, testing, qualification and manufacturing.
She also works with outside vendors and other EMC internal teams to help develop new technologies and products and maintain existing products in the field. Her contributions here range from design through debugging and hardware QA.
EMC has an atmosphere something like a startup, she says, which suits her fine. "It's fast-paced and keeps me challenged; I'm never bored."
Mahoney also loves the many career development opportunities at EMC, including on-site educational programs and courses at local colleges. She's working toward an MS in IE or operations research at Northeastern, and has also joined Toastmasters to improve her communication skills.
At work she's been given EMC's MVP and manager's choice awards, and chairs the public relations committee of the company's women's employee circle. She's also VP of professional development of the Boston section of SWE, and in her spare time she visits Northeastern and mentors students there.
Clearly, Mahoney keeps busy at work and after. She even manages to get to some Red Sox games, she reports with pleasure.
Lea Squires manages software engineering at Engenio Info
Lea Squires works for Engenio Information Technologies, Inc (Wichita, KS). This division of LSI (www.lsilogic.com) designs and makes high-performance modular enterprise storage platforms and storage management software, which is sold through strategic partners.
Squires is a software engineering manager at Engenio's storage group facility. Her job includes managing people, and projects management on OEM products used to control and manage large storage arrays. She helps design software to meet customer needs and desires.
After she got her 1992 BSEE from the University of Texas-Austin, Squires worked for National Instruments (Austin, TX) as an application engineer. She gained both hardware and software experience. "I always had a knack for software," she notes.
She moved on to an application engineer position with Engenio, which was then called Symbios. Symbios was acquired by LSI and renamed Engenio. Squires has been there eleven years now, and finds the culture very supportive, offering the stability of a large organization.
She also has a comfortable feeling of job security. "All those bits and bytes need to be stored someplace; it's a staple for any business," she says.
About five years ago, Squires accepted the challenge of a move into management. "I've never regretted it," she says, even though it involved moving into a Java organization which was new to her. "I'm making a much bigger contribution as a manager."
Squires looks forward to going to work every morning, and also enjoys going home at night. She credits her husband for supporting her career and sharing the load at home. "Engenio is supportive too," she adds. "It measures folks by contribution, not hours."
Victoria Richard manages programs at Network Appliance
Victoria Richard is a program manager for Network Appliance, Inc (Sunnyvale, CA). She picked Network Appliance, a very young company at the time, because she liked the firm, approved of its sound business plan, and felt that storage was a practical and growing industry. "Data storage had a foreseeable future, as opposed to other technologies in 1998," says Richard.
As a business major, she didn't expect to get into engineering. "I just sort of fell into it," she says.
Richard received a BS in business admin from the University of California-Berkeley in 1997. After graduation she traveled briefly in Europe, and the next year she started as a contractor for Network Appliance. She soon became a regular employee.
"The company gave me the opportunity to define my own job," she says. She learned the business end of engineering on the job.
She became one of the young company's first program managers for new product development, and now oversees large projects. Network Appliance storage solutions include specialized hardware, software and services, providing seamless storage management for open-network environments.
Richard manages new products from concept to release, and leads core teams including engineering, marketing, customer service and manufacturing. "My role is to help project teams find the right balance between what the organization can deliver and what the market needs," she says. "My contribution impacts the bottom line."
Richard is considering a graduate degree in organizational development to learn new ways to manage change. "Program management is often about dealing with change effectively. How you handle change greatly affects the success of a program," she notes.
"I don't see the need for storage decreasing," she adds. "The opportunities are there. We're always looking for engineers for platform and software application development."
Mary Dunn is an engineering director at Seagate
With over twenty-five years of storage tech experience, Mary Dunn is an engineering director for Seagate Technology (Longmont, CO). She joined the company almost twelve years ago, working as a design engineering lead for ten years before moving to her current position.
Dunn is a 1979 grad of Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Worcester, MA). She earned a BSEE with an emphasis on control system theory, a sort of cross between ME and EE.
She took her servo control systems background to Digital Equipment Corp (DEC, Colorado Springs, CO). "I
didn't know it would be a great career move to choose the storage industry. It just worked out," she says. She also worked for Miniscribe and Fujitsu Computer Products of America before joining Seagate.
Today, Dunn helps decide what storage products should be like. Much of her work involves firmware improvements. She's augmenting the fundamental capabilities of the recording head and the magnetic media, and mitigating the difficulties of cramming so much data into such small spaces. "I try to improve the lay of the land, increasing density," she says.
Dunn's favorite part of the job is learning new things. Storage tech offers a look into tribology, windage, mechanics, high-frequency recording channels, and of course servo control systems, Dunn's original specialty. Her proudest accomplishment as design engineering lead was Seagate's Barracuda 7200.7 hard drive, which has sold over 100 million units, the largest-selling hard drive ever.
The Barracuda required many long hours, Dunn recalls. She interfaced with customers and factories in Asia, working with a twelve-hour time difference. With that job accomplished, she has now reestablished her work/life balance. She recently took time to speak at a forum put on by the Women's Vision Foundation of Colorado (Denver, CO), a nonprofit organization working to enhance the success of corporate women.
Dunn plans to continue to grow with Seagate. She likes its progressive nature and efforts to recognize diversity and build a sense of inclusion. But the opportunity to contribute to Seagate's product leadership is what she likes best. She wants to stay in product design.
Monica Hayes is a systems admin at Intel
Monica Hayes recently changed jobs within Intel Corp, and is now a systems admin in its Chandler, AZ office. She supports multi-platform storage technologies including backup infrastructure, new hardware, servers and databases.
She previously worked for Intel in Santa Clara, CA as a systems engineer implementing storage area networks. She served as site contact for customers, solved problems, answered questions and chaired meetings.
She also provided project management for new business, overseeing resources, time and budget. The job included infrastructure forecasting in the areas of backup capacity planning, SAN utilization and data center capacity.
Hayes has been with Intel since 1999 and earned her Microsoft certification there. She started out as a Windows engineer, serving as a contractor at the IT helpdesk in Chandler. Then she moved to Santa Clara as a customer service rep.
"I love storage," says Hayes. "It's lots of fun, different from an OS. Clusters can be temperamental sometimes and I love to troubleshoot."
Taking full advantage of Intel's tuition reimbursement benefits, Hayes is currently pursuing a BSIT from the University of Phoenix, an online program.
She originally "approached her career backwards," getting married and having a family first, and going to work to help support it. "Intel has been great. I don't take work home with me," she says.
Hayes hopes to combine her people and technology skills to move toward management. She follows her own advice for success: "Know what you want, keep balance in mind and pace yourself."
Kris Hake: Sun Microsystems senior program manager
Kris Hake has been a senior program manager at Sun Microsystems (Menlo Park, CA) for nearly five years. She works in Sun's integrated business planning division. This unit, she explains, incorporates elements of the company's data management and software groups by integrating data and identity management.
She describes her job as bringing multiple groups together to develop messaging and solutions that address the needs of customers. "It's like the ultimate in program management."
Hake has a 1986 BS in physics from the University of California-San Diego. She selected physics over engineering to avoid extremely overcrowded classes during a time when the school's engineering department was reorganizing.
In physics and engineering, she notes, many subjects overlap. Both disciplines teach how to solve a problem with multiple answers, and then evaluate them to pinpoint the best one.
After graduating, Hake moved from San Diego to the San Francisco Bay area to do R&D; in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Next she became senior product development program manager at Acuson (Mountain View, CA), an ultrasound medical device company. Then she moved to software, spending two years as director of program management at Cybersource (Mountain View, CA), a software company specializing in transactional financial services.
The common thread in all those jobs was data intensity, says Hake. "There is sensitive, confidential data, and lots of it." Her next move, to storage tech at Sun, was a logical sequence. "It's about connecting data and people," she says.
At Sun, she's currently directing an integration of storage, which she calls information lifecycle management, and identity management. "Customers are finding they not only need to manage the lifecycle of their data, but also determine who has access to the data during the various stages of its life."
Making customers happy with new solutions is a professional high point for Hake. She also enjoys the diversity of people and cultures at Sun. With more than 40,000 employees worldwide there are lots of sub-cultures, and after all, she points out, it's her profession to bring people together.
Hake takes advantage of Sun's iWork program to work from home two or three days a week. She is active in the Project Management Institute (Newtown Square, PA), the global advocacy organization for the project management profession, and Women in Technology International (WITI, Sherman Oaks, CA).
Hake sees interesting changes coming in storage technology. "The industry in general is consolidating. Job expansions are in areas where storage can be leveraged with complementing technology," she believes.
OPPORTUNITIES AT INFO MANAGEMENT AND STORAGE MANUFACTURERS
Check the latest openings at these diversity-minded companies.
|Company and location
|Information management and storage
|Engenio Information Technologies, Inc
|Disk storage systems
(Santa Clara, CA)
|Chips and computer, networking and communications products
|Hard disk drives and data storage solutions
|Network Appliance, Inc
|Unified storage solutions
|Solid-state flash memory products
(Scotts Valley, CA)
(Santa Clara, CA)
|Software, servers, storage
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