dcblogs writes: Virtualization, cloud services and software-as-a-service (SaaS) is making it much easier to shift IT infrastructure operations to service providers, and that is exactly what many users are doing. Service providers are growing dramatically. Of the new data center space being built in the U.S., service providers accounted for about 13% of it last year, but by 2017 they will be responsible for more than 30% of this new space, says IDC. "We are definitely seeing a trend away from in-house data centers toward external data centers, external provisioning," said Gartner analyst Jon Hardcastle. Among those planning for a transition is the University of Kentucky's CIO, who wants to reduce his data center footprint by half to two thirds. He expects in three to five years service provider pricing models "will be very attractive to us and allow us to take most of our computing off of our data center." IT managers says a big reason for the shift is IT pros don't want to work in data centers at small-to-mid size firms that can't offer them a career path. Hank Seader, managing principal of the Uptime Institute, said that it takes a "certain set of legacy skills, a certain commitment to the less than glorious career fields to make data centers work, and it's hard to find people to do it."