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Q&A Interview: All about SNIA FC-SAN Level 1 certification

When it comes to SNIA's new vendor-neutral certification program, there's been lots of interest and even more questions from our audience. Curious to know how much it costs, where to take it, and how it might compare to training and certification offered by the likes of EMC and IBM?

It was just these types of certification questions asked by our audience members at SearchStorage's recent Live Expert Q&A online event on SNIA's vendor-neutral certification for FC-SAN professionals. The event was held April 24, 2002 with Half Moon Bay, Calif.-based training firm, Infinity I/O, and its training specialist, Jay Kramer, who has been an integral part of SNIA's certification program to date. Here, we present an excerpt of the questions Jay answered following this event.

Certification resources:

  • See the Storage networking forum for all of Jay's answers to certification questions (Posts #679-698).
  • View the archive of the first of our certification series: Live study guide for SNIA's Fibre Channel SAN Professional (Level 1) certification.
  • Pre-register to view the next event in this series, May 22, 2002, at 2pm EDT: Live study guide for SNIA's Fibre Channel SAN Practitioner (Level 2) certification.

If someone passes professional level, are they certified forever? How do you deal with the on-going changes in the industry?
No, the certification is not forever. This network storage industry is changing at a rapid rate as the technologies continue to advance. This creates the need to have one's skills sharpened over time. The SNIA Fibre Channel SAN Certification is good for 2 years. Upon expiration, the candidate will be required to take another test in order to keep his/her certification status active. As for the candidate dealing with the on-going changes in the industry, additional courses can be taken from those educational companies that provide update courses for this type of person that already has a foundation and wants to just tune one's skills and get current on all the new developments. Are there any prerequisite courses for the FC SAN certification?
No. A certification candidate can take the exams without taking any courses. The candidate also has the flexibility to engage their desired certification exam track at any initial level. There is no prerequisite that you have to take level 1 before going to level 2. Although there is not a prerequisite for specific courses, many candidates will benefit by taking a course track for preparatory skills development. A wide range of providers such as academic institutions, product companies and training companies can provide this service. A list of courses and providers can be obtained from the SNIA website at Which storage books do you recommend as reference and for passing Level 1 certification?
There have been a variety of books written on storage networking and these provide a valuable resource for the certification candidate. On the Infinity I/O Web site, there is a list of suggested reading. For Level 1 Certification, there are two open systems and vendor-neutral books that are on the recommended reading list:
  • Building Storage Networks, by Marc Farley. This easy to understand book clearly explains all the latest methods of storing data on a network. Get in-depth details of NAS, SAN, RAID, Fibre Channel, SCSI, backup, InfiniBand and Ethernet/IP storage.
  • Designing Storage Area Networks, by Tom Clark. This book goes beyond a description of Fibre Channel specifications and standards; it offers practical guidelines for implementing and utilizing SANs to solve the real world needs of business networks. It demonstrates how to use Fibre Channel SAN technology to address specific application challenges.
  • Comprehensive Study Guide for the SNIA FC-SAN Level 1 Certification Exam, by Infinity I/O (available soon). The Comprehensive Study Guide is an aid to preparing for the SNIA Level 1 Certification Exam. The guide is designed as a supplemental reference or refresher for candidates wishing to take the Exam. By reading this Guide, students will recognize their readiness for the actual exam and/or determine their strengths and weaknesses on particular topics covered in the exam. The Comprehensive Study Guide is intended to prepare the student for exam format as well as exam content. The Guide includes a lengthy section covering a wide variety of practice questions with answers, explanations why an answer is correct and why an answer is incorrect.
How does this compare to EMC's certification process, which I am currently following?
The SNIA Fibre Channel SAN certification program is complementary to product specific certification programs. A well-rounded candidate should consider gaining an open systems vendor neutral foundation through the SNIA Certification Program and then add to it the product specific certifications from the various product companies to fulfill the skill sets and knowledge required to support the customer environments involving components from those specific product providers. As customers evolve their SANs with best of breed technologies, the breadth of skills achieved through the SNIA Certification Program will add value to the knowledge and expertise of the certified individual. Does the industry recognize SNIA certification these days? Any instances of this?
Yes. In industries where there are multiple certification authorities, the value of each particular certification can be in question. The SNIA is the sole industry authority for the entire storage networking industry and this certification is the exclusive offering of the SNIA. In addition, the computer industry publications and analyst firms have recognized the value of this certification program in both printed articles and during speaking engagements at computer industry conferences. What hardware vendors have signed up to this certification process?
There are currently over 300+ member companies in the SNIA worldwide that have endorsed this certification program. The overwhelming majority of member companies are hardware vendors and their support to date for this program has been very positively received. Many of the hardware vendors have also served the industry as auditors of the certification question pool making sure that the exams meet the standards set by the SNIA. What is the cost of the exam and where can you take it? Also, does it cost more to retake the exam?
The level 1 professional exam cost is $150. Should the candidate not pass the exam, they will have to pay for retesting. The examination is available at approximately 5000 Prometric testing facilities around the world. Check the testing website for the testing location that is most convenient to your area.

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