In a recent post, Alice Horrigan makes the point that members of Gen Y, defined here as anybody born somewhere between 1985 and today, will soon be taking the reigns as administrators and managers of today's data centers. That means people who weren't yet born when the first IBM S/390s rolled off the lines may still be running programs written for those machines. PCs running Windows were a part of most households before they were born.

But the way Gen-Yers expect to run data center environments will be very different. While Horrigan's post is explicitly self-promotional for her employer, CA, it is worth noting how expectations of technology are vastly different from generation to generation.

Consider these changes that will likely be brought into your data center as the Millennials gain a foothold. For purposes of comparison, baby boomer experiences and practices (those born between 1945 and 1964) are compared to today's incoming Millennials. It's likely Gen-Xers occupy a middle ground in-between. No stereotyping intended, this simply reflects life experience:

- Baby boomers worked with applications serving up data in batch mode, often updated overnight. Millennials expect real-time interaction.

- Boomers spent a great deal of their careers working with command-line code. Millennials want highly graphical interfaces. They want a data center monitoring dashboard to look like something they would see on their smartphone.

- Boomers focused their careers and specialized in various IT disciplines, such as “Cobol developer” or “CICS administrator.” Millennials want to be more adaptable across the board to whatever solutions, technologies or standards fit the situation.

- Boomers had to build or bring in whatever solutions were needed to add muscle to the data center. Millennials are just as comfortable in grabbing needed functionality off the cloud, or from an open-source community site.

- Boomers coveted careers in the IT shops of large, prestigious firms (especially insurers). Millennials covet careers with hot new internet startups.

Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.

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