Top 10 Data Storage Certifications

If you are one of the many data storage professionals looking to take advantage of one of the hottest job markets in history, one way to set yourself apart from the crowd is with certifications.

Certifications tell potential employers that you have strong foundational training in relevant areas of expertise and that you are committed to being an expert in your area. 

Here are the 10 top certifications you should consider to advance your career in storage:

1. Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) Data Center

CCIE Data Center is the most widely accepted and well-known certification for experienced data professionals. The certification is valid for three years, and holders must complete continuing education credits to recertify.

What skills will you learn?

CCIE Data Center training covers end-to-end data center technologies, including network (25%), computer (25%), storage network (20%), automation (15%), and security (15%) applications.

Requirements

No formal prerequisites, although applicants should have five to seven years of experience in the design, deployment, operation, and optimization of data center solutions.

Applicants must pass two exams: a two-hour qualifying exam (Implementing and Operating Cisco Data Center Core Technologies, DCCOR 350-601) and an eight-hour practical lab exam (CCIE Data Center v3.0). Lab exams are pass/fail.

Time commitment

Cisco offers a five-day intensive training course, with an additional three days of self-paced learning material and time for hands-on practice. 

Cost

$400 qualifying exam fee; $1,900 lab exam fee. Cisco is currently offering a BYOD mobile lab program that waives the lab exam fee. The Cisco e-learning training course is $1,500.

2. Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) Data Center

CCNP Data Center certification is another widely accepted Cisco certification for skilled and experienced professionals valid for three years. Holders can recertify after meeting continuing education requirements.

What skills will you learn?

CCNP Data Center covers many of the same areas as the CCIE, although it additionally requires applicants to focus on a specialization selected from the following:

  • 300-610 DCID: Designing Cisco Data Center Infrastructure
  • 300-615 DCIT: Troubleshooting Cisco Data Center Infrastructure
  • 300-620 DCACI: Implementing Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure
  • 300-625 DCSAN: Configuring Cisco MDS 9000 Series Switches
  • 300-630 DCACIA: Implementing Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure, Advanced
  • 300-635 DCAUTO: Implementing Automation for Cisco Data Center Solutions

Requirements

No formal requirements, although applicants should have three to five years of data center solution implementation experience.

Applicants must pass a two-hour core exam (Implementing and Operating Cisco Data Center Core Technologies, DCCOR 350-601), a CCIE lab course, and a data center concentration exam.

Time commitment

The training course for the core exam is the same five-day intensive class similar to the one for the CCIE qualifying exam. Each concentration exam also has a five-day intensive training course with theoretical and practical parts.

Cost

$400 per exam. E-learning courses range from $1,500 to $1,615.

3. Hitachi Vantara Qualified Professional Storage Administration

Hitachi offers a wide range of certification options, including the Storage Administration HQT-6740 certification. Certification is good for three years, and recertification is available with continuing education requirements.

What skills will you learn?

The Storage Administration certification focuses on six primary areas of Hitachi systems:

  • Command Suite fundamentals
  • Use of Hitachi Device Manager
  • Advanced storage management operations
  • Multi-pathing and load balancing
  • Troubleshooting
  • HCS 8.5.x and SVOS 7.x

Requirements

Applicants must pass a 35-question, 60-minute exam with a minimum score of 65%. There are no formal prerequisites, although prior experience with Hitachi storage systems is recommended.

Time commitment

A variety of self-paced online training options are available.

Cost

$100

4. NetApp Certified Data Administrator (NCDA), ONTAP

NCDA certification is a more entry- to intermediate-level certification for professionals with more limited experience but a solid background knowledge base. NetApp certifications are valid for two years (extended during the pandemic).

What skills will you learn?

NCDA certification covers the following areas:

Requirements

NetApp recommends that applicants have at least six months to a year of practical experience in implementing and managing NetApp data storage solutions.

The certification exam is 90 minutes and has 60 questions. The minimum passing score is 64%.

Time commitment

NetApp provides a list of recommended e-learning and self-study materials with varying time requirements. 

Cost

$150 exam fee plus training costs.

5. Dell Technologies Certified Associate, Information Storage and Management v5

Following on from the prior EMC Proven Professional program, Dell offers several professional certifications, including an Information Storage and Management track. The certification is for both entry-level and experienced professionals looking to expand their skill set. Associate-level certifications do not expire or require recertification.

What skills will you learn?

Certification training covers five primary areas:

  • Modern data center infrastructure (18%)
  • Storage networking technologies (19%)
  • Storage systems (23%)
  • Backup, archive, and replication (24%)
  • Security and management (16%)

Requirements

Beginning in February 2022, applicants must pass the 90-minute, 60-question DEA-1TT5 exam with a minimum score of 60%.

Time commitment

Dell offers five-day, on-demand online training or in-person courses.

Cost

$1,875 for the online training course, which includes an equivalent amount in exam credits, or $3,125 for in-person or virtual training.

6. HPE Master ASE: Storage Solutions Architect V3

The Master ASE Storage Solutions Architect certification is for professionals who focus on translating business requirements into operational storage and backup systems. Certification validity depends on the track and the release of new and updated certification requirements.

What skills will you learn?

The certification tests the applicant’s ability to 

  • Identify, plan, and design multi-site storage and backup solutions
  • Manage, operate, and monitor HPE storage and backup solutions
  • Optimize HPE storage solutions
  • Recommend and use HP Nimble solutions

Requirements

HPE recommends three to five years of relevant work experience. In addition, applicants must hold one of the following certifications:

  • HPE ASE — Storage Solutions V4
  • HPE ASE — Hybrid IT Solutions Architect V1 
  • A prior version of either certification

Applicants must pass the two-hour, 60-question Designing Multi-Site HPE Storage Solutions exam with a minimum score of 66%.

Time commitment

HPE provides virtual or in-person five-day intensive training courses. In addition, self-paced online study materials are available.

Cost

Costs vary by the training center.

7. VMware Certified Professional, Data Center Virtualization

The VMware Certified Professional certification path is for both new and experienced storage experts. VMware removed certification validity periods and recertification requirements in 2019, leaving it up to the candidates to determine when recertification is necessary.

What skills will you learn?

Data Center Virtualization certification verifies an applicant’s ability to implement, administer, and maintain vSphere infrastructure.

Requirements

Prerequisites vary depending on the applicant’s experience and prior certifications. Candidates with no prior VCP certifications must attend one of a range of required training courses. All candidates must pass a 130-minute, 70-question exam with a minimum score of 300.

Time commitment

VMware offers several recommended five-day intensive online or in-person training sessions.

Cost

$250 exam fee. Fees vary for training courses, depending on the training format and location.

8. IBM Certified Specialist, IBM Cloud Object Storage V3.14

The IBM Cloud Storage Specialist certification is for professionals with at least some prior experience with IBM storage solutions who are interested in taking a more system-wide architectural view. This certification does not expire.   

What skills will you learn?

The certification focuses on the design and implementation of IBM Cloud Object Storage solutions and includes basic knowledge of solution components and architectures, integration and scaling principles, and overall system administration and maintenance.

Requirements

Although there are no formal prerequisites, IBM recommends an understanding of the following:

IBM offers an online assessment test to determine readiness for the certification exam.

Applicants must pass a 90-minute, 60-question test with a minimum passing score of 68%.

Time commitment

IBM suggests a two-day training workshop with an associated lab.

Cost

$200 exam fee. Training cost depends on the provider. 

9. AWS Certified Solutions Architect, Professional

For skilled professionals who want a deep and holistic understanding of the world’s largest public cloud solution. AWS certifications remain valid for three years. Recertification requires taking the current version of the exam. 

What skills will you learn?

The certification is high-level and includes a broader range of topics that implicate storage issues, including:

  • Design for organizational complexity (12.5%)
  • Design for new solutions (31%)
  • Migration planning (15%)
  • Cost control (12.5%)
  • Continuous improvement (29%)

Requirements

Amazon suggests at least two years of experience with AWS cloud architecture deployment, including basic knowledge of AWS components, understanding of cloud architecture design best practices, the ability to convert business requirements into formal plans, and the ability to design hybrid architecture.

Applicants must pass a 180-minute, 75-question (65 scored, 10 unscored) exam with a minimum score of 750 out of 1,000.

Time commitment

Amazon offers a range of free online study materials, in addition to a recommended three-day virtual or in-person training course.

Cost

$300 exam fee. Training costs depend on the training partner and location.

10. Microsoft Azure Certifications

Microsoft offers a variety of certifications related to its Azure cloud system, many of which address cloud storage solutions. Among these is the Azure Fundamentals certification, which serves as the basis for more advanced Azure certifications. Fundamentals certifications do not expire.

What skills will you learn?

Azure Fundamentals certification covers the following skill areas:

  • Cloud concepts (20–25%) 
  • Core Azure services (15–20%)
  • Core Azure solutions and management tools (10–15%)
  • General security and network features (10–15%)
  • Identity, governance, privacy, and compliance features (15–20%)
  • Cost management and SLAs (10–15%)

Requirements

There are no formal prerequisites; however, Microsoft recommends basic knowledge of general cloud concepts as well as a basic understanding of Azure systems and services.

Applicants must pass the exam with a minimum score of 700 out of 1,000.

Time commitment

Microsoft offers free online, self-paced training materials as well as one- and two-day instructor-led courses.

Cost

$99 exam fee. Training fees depend on course length and location.

Nahla Davies
Nahla Davies
Nahla Davies is a software developer and writer. Before devoting her work full time to technical writing, she managed—among other intriguing things—to serve as a lead programmer at an Inc. 5,000 experiential branding organization whose clients include Samsung, Time Warner, Netflix, and Sony.

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