Certifiably sensible

The pros of certification programs for storage professionals.

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Certifiably sensible

By Alan Earls

Over recent years, certification of IS professionals has become ever more common. Vendors -- usually the providers of certification -- have emphasized certification as a tool to build loyalty and brand presence.

To be sure, there are doubters, but a body of studies has shown certification in a favorable light. For instance, a 1995 IDC study showed a dramatic dip in server downtime at companies that supported certification. Then, a series of Gartner studies (sponsored by Sylvan Prometric and several vendors), showed management support for certification rising from 65 percent in 1994 to 77 percent in 1997, and 85 percent in 2000.

Of course, for storage professionals, certification options remain somewhat limited, but those options are growing. The most recent entrant is EMC's Proven Professional Certification Program which, according to the company, aims to help increase the pool of information storage professionals and certifies candidates for commonly accepted information storage management roles, such as information storage architect, builder and operator.

"At a time when the global pool of highly qualified IT managers is not keeping up with demand, well-designed, independently validated certification programs can be beneficial to both the individuals trained and their companies," said Carl Greiner, of Meta Group, a research and consulting firm with headquarters in Stamford, Conn. "Such focused programs are necessary as IT professionals are required to rise to the challenge of managing, protecting and sharing the exploding volumes of information being generated and consumed by every organization."

EMC certification is awarded following successful completion of the required course curriculum and examinations. The program provides Associate- and Master-level Certification.

Compaq Computer Corporation, another major SAN player, offers certification through its ASE program -- but only in broader mastery of Compaq products and their integration.

Meanwhile, San Jose, Calif.-based Brocade Communications Systems, Inc., is another storage player that offers certification. The company's Level 1 certification is based on mastery of installation, configuration, and troubleshooting of Brocade products including the SilkWorm switch. Level 2 Certification -- the Brocade Certified SAN Designer -- is defined as a "Brocade Fabric Professional" with detailed understanding of SAN Design and solution implementation.

Are there any prospects for completely independent certification? Well, the independent Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals (ICCP), at least, says it has no current plans to offer any storage-related certifications.

With storage skills becoming more and more important, perhaps that verdict will change. While you wait, you might consider checking out "Get certified and get ahead: 200 computer certifications that will get you more money, boost your career, make you more valuable," by Anne Martinez (McGraw-Hill, New York). This shouldn't be confused with leisure reading but if you are really trying to decide how much of your time and money to bet on certification, this book is the place to start.

Additional resources:

About the author: Alan Earls is a freelance writer in Franklin, Mass.


This was first published in February 2001

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