The network management vendor has introduced the new SolarWinds Certified Professional program, which consists of a two-hour exam with more than 70 questions. The company is also launching a
Only about one-third of the certification is dedicated specifically to SolarWinds' flagship product, Orion Network Performance Manager, according to Sanjay Castelino, senior director of product marketing at SolarWinds. The rest of the certification tests a networking pro's general mastery of four key areas: network management fundamentals, network management planning, network management operations, and fault and performance troubleshooting.
"Most vendor certifications are very vendor-specific," Castelino said. "The motivation of many of them is to smooth the sale and installation of their products. That's not what we're doing."
Some network management vendors, such as NetScout, offer product certifications. Network General, now owned by NetScout, used to offer Sniffer University, which was more of a generalized network management training program.
"SolarWinds is trying to take a little bit more of a broader viewpoint and trying to have it be more generally educational," said Jim Frey, analyst with Enterprise Management Associates. "If you look back at the old Sniffer University, that was very much non-vendor specific – here's how networks work and here's what protocols are out there and here's how you fix it. What makes [SolarWinds Certified Professional] interesting and credible in the long term is it has to be more than just how you use SolarWinds tools. I don't know any other vendors that are trying to take it in that direction right now."/p>
C. Randy Clark, a network security engineer at a large retail company, took a beta version of SolarWinds' certification exam. He said the certification really forces network managers to dig deeper into SolarWinds' products to get the most out of them. But he said it is also a generally valuable credential for a network manager to have.
"If I were a hiring manager and saw somebody come in with this certification, I would know that candidate would have at least a pretty good understanding of the tools and technology that you use to make sure you can keep a network up and running and diagnose it properly," Clark said. "Other certifications I have tend to lean more toward administrative functions. They are more command and control, whether it be from Cisco or Juniper. This [SolarWinds] certification is more of a diagnostic and troubleshooting view."
The certification is aimed at network managers with a moderate level of experience.
"Our expectation is that someone who passes this should have been managing a network for at least two years," Castelino said.
The SolarWinds certification exam will cost $150 in the United States and Canada.
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