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Storage certification guide for networking pros

Networking pros are seeking storage training as they become responsible for converging data center and storage networks. Storage certification programs may offer the right skills -- or at least a start.

The first part of this series on data center and storage certifications offered a full guide to virtualization certification programs for networking experts. In part two, find a rundown of what storage certification programs have to offer.

By Ed Tittel

Networking pros are increasingly called on to facilitate the convergence of data center and storage networks. As their roles expand in enterprise IT organizations, so too must their skills. Many will gain these skills through hands-on experience. But networking pros may also find they can get what they need from storage certification programs that run the gamut from the very basic foundations of the technology to in-depth storage network design and management.

Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) storage certification programs

While server virtualization represents a clearly defined product category, storage is an umbrella term that covers a broad assortment of technologies and strategies. In fact, the word "storage" covers disk arrays, disk and RAID controllers, conventional and solid state disks, local area networks (LANs), storage area networks (SANs) and even storage hosts. Organizations like the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) seek to provide an industry-standard storage certification track that uniformly examines skill sets encompassing the wide variety of technologies across virtual and physical storage types.

SNIA Storage Networking Certification Program (SNCP): The SNIA SNCP provides a strong foundation for vendor-neutral accreditation to complement the variety of vendor-specific certifications. SNCP is structured to reflect modern advances in storage networking technology and provides options for expanded offerings in the future. It ultimately aims to provide a standard benchmark against which individual IT professional skills can be uniformly measured:

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SNIA Certified Storage Professional (SCSP): An entry-level examination of foundational storage and storage networking knowledge. Material ranges from interface types to remote replication and from storage methods (such as RAID) to data management. SCSP is the basis for other SNIA certification paths, including SCSE, SCSA and SCSN-E.

SNIA Certified Storage Engineer (SCSE): An intermediate-level examination of foundational and next-level storage and network knowledge. Material covers administration and management of SAN fabrics, multi-way clustering, threats against stored data, and volume recovery.

SNIA Certified Storage Architect (SCSA): An intermediate-level examination of foundational and next-level storage and networking knowledge. Material encompasses a variety of network storage options involving assessment, planning and design that include identifying upgrade options, key advantages of certain technologies, storage capacity planning, and server capacity management.

SNIA Certified Storage Networking Expert (SCSN-E): An advanced examination incorporating entry-level and intermediate topics. All previously mentioned exams are SCSN-E prerequisites; successful completion establishes a candidate's expertise in storage networking topics in the areas of administration and management, planning and design, and analysis and assessment.

SNIA Qualified Storage Virtualization Associate (SQSVA): An entry-level certification which ensures that individuals can define storage virtualization, describe its benefits, identify its potential pain points, and determine implementation strategies. Because vendors use virtualization and its characteristics in different forms, the SQSVA is designed to evaluate and examine storage virtualization in a vendor-neutral manner. SNIA offers a few structured tutorials to guide candidates through the motivations of using storage virtualization and its effective usage within enterprise environments.

Is a vendor-neutral storage certification program enough? Given the availability of both vendor-neutral and vendor-specific certifications for storage, it's not unreasonable to ask: Should those who earn vendor-neutral storage certs pursue vendor-specific credentials as well? Ultimately, the answer depends on the employer's wishes, but even SNIA acknowledges that its credentials often serve as lower- or entry-level preambles to more advanced, vendor-specific training and certification credentials. In the sections that follow, you will learn more about some of the best-known vendor-specific programs.

EMC Storage Certification Tracks

EMC's storage certification tracks are comprehensive certifications that validate an IT professional's skills necessary to plan, deploy, manage and utilize the information infrastructure. There are several entry-level, intermediate and advanced certification paths a candidate can take to prove technical know-how across storage solutions and technologies:

Information Storage and Management (ISM): An entry-level "associate" exam that serves as a basis for intermediate and advanced EMC storage certification tracks. ISM covers informed decision making across multiple technologies involving SAN, network-attached storage (NAS), content addressed storage (CAS), Internet Protocol-storage area networking (IP-SAN), backup and recovery, business continuity, security and virtualization.

EMC Product/Technology Specific (EMCP/T): A foundational and focused examination of effective integration strategies and usage of EMC information infrastructure solutions. Focal points include EMC Technology Foundations, mainframe business continuity, EMC SourceOne email management, EmailXtender and EmailXaminer administration, Smarts network administration, DiskXtender, EMC Disk Library and B2D backup technologies, RecoverPoint data replication, and Avamar backup and data de-duplication.

EMC Storage Technologist (EMCST): An intermediate-level professional certification track that includes a single-exam associate level (E20-001) and two exams at the specialist level. Specialist-level exams evaluate storage networking design and management (E20-011), and information availability design and management (E20-012).

EMC Storage Administrator (EMCSA): A specialty certification track of several specialist-level programs and two expert-level programs. Candidates can specialize in products that include the NetWorker family, CLARiiON family solutions (expert), Celerra NAS, Connectrix SAN, EMC ControlCenter and Symmetrix solutions (expert).

Brocade storage certification programs

Brocade has a tiered storage certification track starting with beginner "Select Level" certifications that build up to advanced "Elite Level" certifications for specific categories. Brocade certification tracks are a mixed offering of storage and networking technologies, and strategies that ensure candidates are not only certified on paper but also have real-world experience with solutions in their chosen fields.

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Brocade Certified Specialist: Entry-level certifications are at the base of every intermediate and advanced Brocade certification program. Areas of specialization include Fibre Connectivity (FICON), data center, SAN security, internetworking, SAN channel and Ethernet channel topics.

Brocade Certified Administrator: Brocade's fabric administrator is an intermediate certification that underlies the FICON, SAN Channel and Data Center professional certification tracks. Fabric administrator certification is a prerequisite for intermediate certification in preparation for advanced-level examinations.

Brocade Certified Professional: An intermediate and advanced-level certification that appears across all tracks. Certified fabric professional and network professional are prerequisites for advancement in certain tracks.

Brocade Certified Architect: Candidates are expected to understand concepts and demonstrate skills for designing, installing, configuring, maintaining, managing and troubleshooting Brocade products. Prerequisites usually include at least six months of experience with relevant technologies. and prior experience

Brocade Certified Designer: Certified fabric designer represents mastery concepts involved with building data center fabric from basic components through application integration and state-of-the-art storage components. It represents the "elite" level certification for SAN security and SAN channel tracks.

About the author
Ed Tittel is a full-time freelance writer, trainer and consultant, who's written more than 140 books, including his latest, Windows Server 2008 For Dummies, with co-author Justin Korelc. Ed has been active in the computing industry for more than 25 years as a software developer, manager, writer, researcher, and trainer.

This was last published in January 2010

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