Listen to most senior executives for a while, and -- sooner or later -- you'll hear the familiar lament that it's so hard to find good people with the right skills.
That's especially true in IT today -- as the IT industry transforms, so do the required skill sets. And it's happening very fast indeed.
Enter the EMC Academic Alliance -- an open curriculum platform for both academia and industry that targets the exact skills we see so much in demand.
It's been around for a while, I was just unaware of how big and influential it had become. After going through it, I was mightily impressed.
Perhaps you'll be impressed as well.
The Problem At Hand
If you've decided on IT as a career, that's particularly problematic for both you and your educational institution: the rate of change is so blistering that it's easy to be left behind.
Large IT vendors -- such as EMC -- can play a unique role in closing the gap for students, educators and employers alike.
For one thing, we tend to have a better-than-average sense of where the industry is going, and what's likely to be more important down the road.
We know what skills we need. We know what skills our customers and partners need. We have to develop training and certifications as a normal part of our business model.
To the extent that we can make that same cutting-edge curriculae widely available, everyone benefits.
That -- in a nutshell -- is the primary motivation behind our investment in the EMC Academic Alliance
The original initiative started way back in 2006. I thought it very cool at the time, but had sort of lost track as to where they were.
Recently, Rajesh Nambiar was kind enough to bring me up to date. Rajesh works with Krishna Kant, Somasundaram Gnanasundaram and Alok Shirivstava as part of EMC Education. Together, they've made a lot of progress, to say the least.
The stats are starting to get impressive:
- Over 800+ partner institutions are now involved in the program
- The engagement is clearly global, with participation in over 50 countries
- Over 100,000 students have been educated with EMC-supplied materials
- Over 140,000 students from 60+ countries "follow" the EMC Academic Alliance on the social web
There's dimensional growth as well: in addition to familiar IT topics, the group has branched out to offer data science and advanced analytics coursework.
Targeting The New Opportunities
Logcially, the EMC Academic Alliance offerings are starting to stack nicely.
The program first started with focusing around storage-centric skills. That's understandable, given EMC's heritage.
We found very strong demand for storage skills in 2006, and that has only continued to accelerate.
Storage continues to grow in both size, complexity and importance in the IT stack, and shows no signs whatsoever of slowing down.
Just check out Twitter (or any job posting site) and you'll see dozens of open positions being actively recruited each and every day for anyone with more-than-casual storage expertise.
Recently, the team updated their core materials to create a brand-new version of "Information Storage And Management" coursework, which can be found here.
If you take a storage-related course anywhere around the globe, there's a good chance it was based on these materials -- and now they're updated for the new era.
These core storage skills were augmented over time by the also-popular "Backup Recovery Systems and Architecture" coursework, as they're somewhat distinct disciplines.
Even though the ISM coursework has a segment on backup and recovery concepts, this course goes even deeper into the practical aspects of design, implementation and operations.
To my way of thinking, that's going to be sort of a IT infrastructure fundamentals course for anyone who'll be involved in any aspect of cloud -- and that should be just about everyone in IT going forward.
Hard for me to imagine just a few years ago that someone could take a practical "cloud course" as part of an undergraduate degree, but there you have it ...
Moving up the stack, the team has recently tackled the core skills required to use cloud to achieve broad proficiency with big data predictive analytics. Just to be clear, this isn't the typical undergrad statistics course ...
Strictly speaking, this really isn't part of an IT curriculum -- although there are many interesting use cases emerging for predictive analytics in IT settings.
Also a very popular topic, given by the exceptional demand we've seen :)
Help For Educators And Faculty
For example, there's a private faculty community where educators can interact with the coursework developers, not to mention each other.
There's a standard "student portal" where additional supplementary materials are available.
Educators can take advantage of EMC's Proven Professional advanced certifications at greatly reduced rates.
In Tomorrow's Economy, You're Only As Good As Your Skills
All of my kids are college age, or will be soon.
You spend many years and a bunch of money getting a degree -- what then?
While no one should offer any guarantee of specific outcomes, it's nice to see EMC -- and the Academic Alliance -- doing what it can to meet the needs of both future technology workers, as well as the organizations who will employ them.
Thanks to Rajesh for spending the time with me to get me up to date.
I can't wait to see what these folks do down the road.