BOSTON -- Feeling that its current storage certification program was too narrowly focused on Fibre Channel technology, the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) is taking a new tack toward end user education.
SNIA education director Peter Manijak told a handful of users at the Data Storage User Day at the SNIA Symposium that a new set of storage certification exams is on the horizon.
"We have a new education framework, and we've changed our certification exams to include domains. The current program focused on Fibre Channel, while the new one will expand beyond FC," said Manijak.
Rather than focusing on a single technology, the new tests are said to cover storage networking concepts, standards, solutions and products at a cost of $200 per exam. The SNIA will also require annual refresher exams to ensure that end users stay up to date.
In addition to the broader technology focus, the exams will also be targeted at specific jobs. There will be different certificates for storage administrators versus systems administrators.
Manijak said SNIA is "not looking to tax the end user, but just make sure they're current."
User responses to the new vendor-neutral storage certifications have been mixed. At last month's Storage Networking World conference, more than 50 users took the beta tests for the new program, but at Monday's symposium, only one user among the approximately 30 in attendance expressed any interest in obtaining certification as a SNIA Certified Systems Engineer, SNIA Certified Architect or SNIA Certified Storage Networking Expert.
One user who wished to remain anonymous doubts the need for certifications that aren't related to Fibre Channel technology. "With Fibre Channel, you need it [exams], but with iSCSI if you can set up a subnet, you can set up an iSCSI SAN; there's not really much to it," he said.
But SNIA's Manijak maintains that SNIA certifications are valuable for users to have and hopes to recruit 500 users to take the test this year and more than 1,000 in 2005.
Henry Hunt, a Round Rock, Texas-based development engineer and senior analyst for Dell Computer Corp.'s enterprise systems group, has taken SNIA's Fibre Channel certification test in the past and said he initially questioned the validity of the exam.
"I questioned the effectiveness of a multiple-choice test in actually delivering comprehensive, in-depth results," he said. "But the test was well prepared and thorough."
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