Owing to software-defined data center technologies, many of today's data center certifications require additional skills, including virtualization and cloud computing. Other trends affecting this space include big data, the Internet of Things, network virtualization and more. Here are some of the very best options for data center certifications for 2016.
EMCDCA: EMC2: Data Center Architect
Making its first appearance in our list of top five data center certs is the EMC Data Center Architect (EMCDCA) credential. The EMCDCA focuses on validating and building architectural design skills for IT professionals working with virtualized infrastructures and cloud environments. All training is vendor-neutral and skills learned are easily transferable to various vendor environments.
Two different specialty tracks are offered:
- Enterprise Storage Networking Design (ESDN): Targets professionals working in virtual and physical environments who are charged with planning, architecting and deploying network storage solutions, as well as implementing best design practice solutions (compute, replication and storage).
- Enterprise Backup Recovery Design (EBRD): Focuses on IT professionals working with solutions related to backup recovery in virtual and physical environments, including planning, architecting and deployment, as well as data duplication, replication solutions, backup to the cloud and archiving data.
In addition to these two tracks, the EMCDCA credential is offered at both the associate and specialist levels. A single exam is required for each credential.
There are no recertification requirements for the EMCDCA. However, to maintain currency, EMC recommends that credential holders renew their certifications every 36 months. This can be accomplished passing whatever exam is current for any particular credential.
Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) Data Center
Networking professionals looking to validate their data center skills and achieve a competitive edge in the workplace can't go wrong with the Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) Data Center credential.
Cisco certifications continue to be some of the most recognizable and respected credentials in the industry. Geared toward technology architects, along with design and implementation engineers and solutions experts, the CCNP Data Center identifies individuals who can implement Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) blade and rack-mount servers, and install, configure and manage Cisco Nexus switches. The CCNP Data Center is designed for candidates with three to five years of experience working with Cisco technologies.
The CCNP Data Center is valid for three years, after which credential holders must recertify. The recertification process is fairly easy. Candidates need only pass a single exam to maintain the credential. Cisco provides a list of acceptable exams that meet the recertification requirement. Credential holders should check the Cisco Web site for the current list of qualifying exams before attempting to recertify.
VMware Certified Professional 6 - Data Center Virtualization (VCP6-DCV)
The VMware VCP6-DCV is one of those credentials that sits firmly on the line between traditional data center networking and cloud management.
VMware offers an extensive certification program with a rigorous Data Center virtualization track, which includes the VCP6-DCV. Candidates must thoroughly understand Domain Name System (DNS), routing and database connectivity techniques, and know how to deploy, configure, manage and scale VMware vSphere environments. VMware recommends that candidates have a minimum of six months of experience with VMware infrastructure technologies before attempting the VCP6-DCV certification.
At one time, VMware certifications were valid for life. However, in an effort to promote skill currency and maintain the value and integrity of their credentials, VMware implemented a recertification policy in 2014. Currently, VMware requires credential holders recertify every two years. Recertification is achieved by taking the then current exam, earning a new VCP certification in a different solution track or advancing to the next-level VMware certification.
Schneider Electric Data Center Certified Associate (DCCA)
The Schneider Electric vendor-neutral DCCA is a terrific entry-level certification for individuals who design, build and manage data centers as part of a data center-centric IT team.
The DCCA certification focuses on proficiency working with physical data center infrastructures, such as power and cooling, racks, cabling, management and security. Schneider Electric offers free training courses through its Energy University, and the DCCA courses can be completed in about 15 hours. The exam itself costs only $250 USD, making the DCCA one of the least expensive data center certifications available. It’s idea for those who design, build or maintain the physical infrastructure for data centers.
Schneider Electric offers one other cert, the Professional Energy Manager (PEM), which is geared toward folks who perform energy audits/ assessments and recommend measures for making facilities more energy efficient.
This credential does not expire and there are no requirements necessary to maintain the credential.
BICSI Data Center Design Consultant (DCDC)
BICSI is a membership association that offers several engineering-oriented IT communications credentials aimed at networking professionals who design and implement optical fiber-, copper-based and wireless infrastructures.
BICSI is perhaps best known for its Registered Communications Distribution Designer (RCDD) and cabling certifications. It also offers the Registered Telecommunications Project Manager (RTPM) credential, along with several other certs for telecommunications project management, electronic safety and security design and outside plant design. The RTPM is a new certification and, effective October 1, 2015, replaces the Registered Information Technology Professional (RITP).
A relatively new certification in the BICSI program is the Data Center Design Consultant (DCDC), which is designed for IT professionals with at least two years of experience in planning and implementing data centers. This vendor-neutral certification is ideal for data center engineers, architects, designers and consultants.
The DCDC credential is valid for two years. To renew, credential holders are required to obtain a minimum of 24 hours of BICSI continuing education credits (CEC) to maintain the credential.