Yatish Thakkar

Build and Uptime Development at National Defense Data Center

Q. For our readers, can you tell us about your job profile and elaborate on the industry you are currently working in?

I have an experience of 14+ years in the field of Information Technology and Networking especially in Data Center Design Build and Operate. I have 11 years of experience in India with companies like Sify Technologies, Pidilite Industries, Nelco (Tata Net) & Reliance Jio. I have been working in United Arab Emirates for the last 3+ years and responsible for the build and uptime of the National Defense Data Center.

Q. What are the upcoming domains, technologies and skill sets in the industry that are high in demand right now and expect an even further surge in the coming years?

In my opinion, the future is all about an increasingly connected and an ever evolving world. This means more number of users coming to the Digital world at an exponential pace requiring much more focus on IT and Telecom industry. As the volume and velocity of data increases, there will be a greater focus on domains and technologies which deal primarily with Data Movement (Telecomm industries), Data Storage (Data Centers and Cloud infrastructure) and Data processing (Big Data software).
Machine to Machine (M2M) communication or what is more known these days as IoT (Internet of Things) is also an exponentially growing domain and has a very good opportunity of growth.
Block chain technology or Open ledger system is at a very nascent stage and can be an interesting subject in near future.

Q. How big is the gap between the average quality of engineers in our country and the required level in the industry? What steps can the government and colleges take to reduce this gap?

Engineering is a specialized job! While there has been a constant effort to increase the quantity of institutes and colleges across the country, the quality has decreased rapidly. I have my concerns for the quality of engineers that the country is producing.
I believe there is a pressing need for the universities to upgrade their syllabus. Today even schools are deploying smart learning solutions, smart classrooms, etc. however, engineering college still follow the traditional black board method especially in the tier II and tier III engineering colleges.
Lack of proper infrastructure, the absence of laboratories, low-quality equipment harm students more than anything.
The government has to work on setting up parameters to authorize/permit setup of new engineering colleges. A grading system to comply with and a regular inspection by authorized government bodies in order to maintain and improve the quality of education at colleges.

Q. How important are soft skills to become successful in any industry? How do you think colleges can prepare students better and improve this aspect (soft skills)?

Communication skills are very important in today’s world. The greatest of the ideas are not sold if not communicated well. The colleges have to encourage students to do more of field work which will allow them to meet new people, explore new setups, learn upcoming industry technologies and compare what is in books and how it works practically.
The students should be allowed/encouraged to participate in a lot of inter college events, give presentations to unknown people. Inter college competitions, off subject group discussions should be encouraged.

Q. With the ‘Make in India’ and ‘Digital India’ programmes launched by the government in 2014 and 2015 respectively, what are the noticeable impacts of these programmes in the industry? 

These programs are a much-welcomed move by the government of India, however, the policy still seems to be a nascent stage of implementation and as a result, has had a limited impact.
Looking at Indian dynamics the progress was expected to be slow considering the challenges like digital illiteracy, poor infrastructure, low internet speed, lack of coordination among various departments, issue pertaining to taxation etc.
The good part is that with these programs there is an increased awareness amongst people about the need to be a digitally empowered society and a knowledge economy. There is a lot of interest and investment from foreign companies in India and I personally know the way WiFi is implemented on railway stations and remote villages which is fully sponsored by companies like Microsoft and Google. I personally feel it’s a very good initiative from the current government and with careful implementation it will fetch great results for the betterment of the society.

Q. What advice would you like to give to an engineer who is in the first or second year of his/her course?

Don’t let the quality of education system or other factors like “Reservations” in India affect you much. It may take its course of time to correct and there is nothing much you can do about it in your 4 years of precious time. Do the best in what is in your hands. Some of the below may help.
Have a clear Goal – Have a clear goal in mind on what you want to do after engineering like – Go for further studies – Masters, Getting placed or maybe choosing Management as the next curve in your career. It is not too far that you will be working dedicatedly towards your goal.
Take your project seriously – Its must to participate actively in your project activities and assume a key role voluntarily if a project is Team project.
Seek to gain a research experience – In doing research you get exposed to the imperfections of real world.
Additional Certification – While the engineering books and mentors will provide you knowledge out of the book. Additional certification will get you closer to the real world and exhibit your hunger to learn more. Explore self- learning sites like Udemy, edX, etc.

Q. What are the different ways you think you can collaborate with our department and help our students?

As I am away from the country I can be available remotely via mail or video chat for the students to consult and address their queries.
I can also network with my colleagues in India and arrange for field visits/tour for the students to a data center or Telecom facility. It can help the students to get the practical experience of Data Center facilities and Network operating centres in Telecom companies.