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Top Ten Storage Certifications

Training is often promoted as the path to career success. While not perhaps as firm a guarantee as it used to be, holding a storage certificate of some kind is often required even to be considered as an applicant.

And with virtualization adding so much additional complexity, certification in that area is fast becoming a prerequisite for an IT career. A study by the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) states that a top requirement to enable more widespread use of server virtualization was additional training for IT staff.

"Additional IT staff training is the factor most often cited that would enable more widespread server virtualization usage,” said Bob Laliberte, a senior analyst with ESG.

But which courses should you choose? Here are ten certificates well worth earning.

VMware Certified Professional

Knowledge of server virtualization is more and more necessary as the storage and server worlds converge. Case in point: EMC disk arrays have VMware so baked in that you don’t even need to log onto EMC software to manage them. That can be done from within vSphere. A good place to begin an education on virtualization is VMware Certified Professional (VCP). This certification covers how to install, manage and deploy VMware vSphere 4.

Cisco Data Center Storage Networking Design Specialist

Speaking of convergence, storage and networking are two other areas that are rapidly coming together. The Cisco Data Center Storage Networking Design Specialist covers how to select and integrate storage products from Cisco based on the company’s converged architecture vision. In particular, it trains users on the Cisco MDS 9000 Series Multilayer Directors and Switches, MDS 9509 Director Switch, 9216 Fabric Switch, and MDS 9120.

“Cisco and VMware certification are popular and timely right now,” said Greg Schulz, an analyst with StorageIO Group.

EMC Proven Professional

This is probably the most common storage certification -- understandably considering EMC’s status in the industry. According to EMC, more than 53,000 certifications have been awarded to customers, partners, employees, industry professionals and college students. EMC breaks its program into several areas.

“EMC Proven Professional Information Storage Associate (EMCISA) is the most popular certification and over 13,000 certifications have been awarded so far,” said Alok Shrivastava, senior director of EMC Global Services. “EMCISA is an entry-level certification for any IT professional or technology student who is interested in storage technologies.”

The EMC Proven Professional certification program has two tracks: certifications that align to EMC products and technology, and certifications that are ‘open,’ focusing on technology concepts rather than products. An example of the latter is the EMC Proven Professional Technology Architect (EMCTA), which spans business continuity, SAN, NAS, CAS, and storage management.

NetApp Certified Data Management Administrators

Those gravitating more towards NetApp should consider becoming a NetApp Certified Data Management Administrator. This certification and its associated training covers support, administration and performance management for NetApp storage appliances running NetApp’s Data ONTAP operating system in NFS and CIFS environments. This course trains professionals in continuous data availability, data recovery, snapshots, and more.

Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) Certified Storage Manager

This HDS credential is geared to storage managers who wish to achieve expert status. It covers business continuity and storage management but first requires several foundation-level training courses.

Brocade Switch Certification

Brocade’s training lineup has three tracks covering FICON, Fibre Channel and Ethernet. You can achieve Beginner, Premier or Elite status on the Brocade Certified Professional FICON Track, Data Center Track or Internetworking Track.

Oracle/Sun Certification

Those working in Sun storage environments have had to suffer through some confusion over the past year. However, Oracle recently set things straight by integrating Sun training into its Oracle University program. Java, Solaris, MySQL, Sun Storage and Open Office certifications all fall under this umbrella. All Sun certs have been rebranded as Oracle, although the training lineup is largely the same.

“Training is available in hundreds of locations worldwide, as well as remotely,” said John Hall, senior vice president at Oracle University, “and Self-Study CD-ROM (SSCD) libraries for Oracle Solaris or Java training are available at 35 percent discount.’

Storage Networking Certification Program

You don’t only have to go to vendors for storage training. The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) provides the Storage Networking Certification Program (SNCP). These vendor-neutral, systems-level credentials are designed to complement vendors’ training programs. The SNIA Storage Networking Foundations e-Course consists of 18 learning modules to prepare students for the SNIA Storage Networking Foundations Exam.

SNIA Certified Profession (SCSP)

The SNIA Certified Profession (SCSP) is another good foundation-level course that is required for many SNIA advanced level courses, and also leads into SNIA-sponsored, vendor-specific certifications.

EMC Cloud Certification

With the popularity of the cloud, EMC has put together the EMC Proven Professional Cloud Architect (EMCCA) program. The training and certification is also applicable to non-EMC environments and technologies. EMCCA supplies architects, designers, and consultants with the knowledge and skills to converge and manage storage, servers, and networking environments into a virtual data center.

Those completing this course successfully can graduate to EMC Cloud Architect (EMCCA) certification for cloud architects, designers, and consultants who are EMCCA Virtualized Infrastructure certified. This program helps IT professionals evolve virtualized infrastructures into cloud-based, IT-as-a-Service environments.

Drew Robb is a freelance writer specializing in technology and engineering. Currently living in California, he is originally from Scotland, where he received a degree in geology and geography from the University of Strathclyde. He is the author of Server Disk Management in a Windows Environment (CRC Press).

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