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Training and certifications
"Technical training is poker stakes. For career growth, success is about the ability to engage with business clients, consult, and fill the gap between 'what' and 'so what,'" says GlassHouse's Scannell. "You have to have the ability to draw conclusions; it's not about baselining or installation—it's about identifying possibilities."

Vinny Choinski, backup practice manager at Daymark Solutions Inc., North Billerica, MA, has been in storage, in one way or another, since 1985. "It's a career that's sustained me

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and has longevity," he says. "No matter if you want to be director of IT, CIO or a subject-matter expert, for people who know what they're doing, there's always more work than bodies."

Choinski's electrical engineering degree led him to a career in satellite imaging, which "gobbles up storage. It sent me down this path, and as things started to convert to more open systems, I followed from there," he recalls.

As a VAR, "it's like starting a new job every day. You work with different clients week to week." While "it's not the right job for some people, it's a very dynamic environment with a lot of change for people who like that. You get exposed to a lot of different products and technologies at a fast pace," he says.

John Echaniz is the director of the Solution Center at storage consultant NovusCG in Manassas, VA. He believes engineering skills can be learned, but adds, "the differentiator is being able to collaborate. It's not enough to solve a problem—you need to be able to defend it and socialize it with business users." Novus, like many consultancies, has two tracks—one for technologists and another for consultants who demonstrate an ability to deal with the company's clients on a business level.

Certifications are becoming more stringent as vendors and industry groups like the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) push for meaningful measures of expertise. "Certifications are great to have if you're going to stay in the industry—it makes your experience and commitment clear for employers and interviewers," says Larry Roberts, owner of the Jobstore.com Web site. "Project management certification is on the Top 10 list. But as you move toward the business side, certifications become less important."

But Echaniz cautions that "people sometimes mistake certifications for expertise. We still view certifications as a demonstration of competence, not superiority."

This was first published in December 2005

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