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Technology Center Expands Education Efforts

With the launch of the SNIA Technology Center Institute ( in Colorado Springs, SNIA is offering a full-fledged educational program leveraging its expertise and central role in the industry, says Mark Bradley, SNIA board member and chair of the SNIA Technology Center Committee.

The Technology Center's board of industry experts recommended that SNIA take advantage of its multimillion-dollar storage networking facilities to offer multi-vendor, vendor-neutral education, with a big emphasis on hands-on experience. The result — the Technology Center Institute — was designed to combine the unique facilities at the SNIA Technology Center, the depth of SNIA's experience with technologies, standards and solutions, and the experience of SNIA's education partners to give end user, integrator and vendor personnel hands-on training with multi-vendor solutions.

The SNIA Technology Center has already been used to provide training for SNIA's Storage Management Initiative Standard (SMI-S). SNIA's Technology Center Institute (TCI) program now incorporates two new curricula.

The first is a Storage Networking Solutions curriculum containing courses that focus on solutions that apply across all storage networking technologies. It includes foundation-level courses and advanced courses focused on cross-technology solutions.

The second new curriculum — Technologies and Standards — contains in-depth courses focused on specific technologies, such as Fibre Channel, IP storage and Internet technologies, TCP/IP, SCSI and Serial Attached protocols.

The TCI courses are developed and delivered by storage networking education provider companies Howard Goldstein Associates (HGAI), Infinity I/O, Solution Technology and WBEM Solutions. HGAI's Howard Goldstein sees the combination of vendor-neutral training with a state of the art hands-on opportunity as unique in the industry. "For TCI students to be able to both learn the theory and have hands-on practice is the ultimate learning experience," Goldstein states.

Efforts Could Lead To Storage Engineering Degree

Supplementing these certification and TCI programs is a new Storage Network Education Framework based on job task analysis (JTA) findings. The framework provides guidance and structure for training providers and vendors to develop and deliver courseware based on collective industry knowledge and experience.

An online survey just completed by SNIA delved into tasks and responsibilities of IT personnel assigned as storage administrators, implementation specialists, systems integrators and solutions architects. Survey results are expected to benefit vendors, resellers and end users with courseware based on common learning objectives, with less overlap in material.

Early response to the SNIA Education Continuum from both end users and the analyst community appears positive. Marty LeFebvre, vice president of technology strategy at Nielsen Media Research and a SNIA End User Council (EUC) Governing Board member, saw a link between the Continuum programs and a recent SNIA EUC survey identifying the "Top Ten Pain Points" for IT professionals.

"Accelerating education and certification of storage administrators, along with accelerating the adoption of standards and best practices, are important steps in meeting today's business needs," says LeFebvre.

Jeffrey Brown, a UNIX/Linux system administrator from Jefferson County, Colorado, says the courses offered through the SNIA Technology Center Institute will help him and his colleagues, particularly as they grapple with a major upgrade for their SAN.

Randy Kerns, senior partner at the Evaluator Group, says the new offerings will create more educated storage consumers. "Hands-on experience with existing and emerging storage technologies in a vendor-neutral setting would help end users and customers make more informed purchasing decisions," he says.

SNIA's certification program has issued more than 2,100 credentials to date. New credential recipients receive a certificate and a logo to apply to their business cards. Those who received credentials in 2003 and 2004 will be able to receive a corresponding new credential by passing the SNIA Storage Network Foundations exam by December 31, 2004.

The Education Continuum is not the end of SNIA's education efforts. SNIA's Mark Bradley and the SNIA Technology Center have been approached by two universities to develop storage curriculum programs. The effort could mark the beginning of significant changes in the way traditional higher learning institutions incorporate coursework on storage and networking, perhaps eventually leading to a storage engineering degree.

See All Articles By Marty Foltyn

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