Storage certifications continue to be in high demand in today's workplace, but with over 70 different storage-related credentials available, the choices might be overwhelming. Here are our picks for the best storage certs for 2016.
BCNE: Brocade Certified Network Engineer
Brocade has been running a top-notch storage certification program for over a decade. The Brocade Certified Network Engineer (BCNE) is an intermediate-level Brocade credential ("Premier Level" in Brocade terminology) that enjoys broad recognition in the industry. The certification recognizes individuals who understand how to administer Brocade hardware, and who maintain Ethernet Layer 2 switching and IP routing networks using Brocade management tools and consoles.
Candidates must take the CNE 200 Brocade Certified Network Engineer course before attempting the BCNE exam. Brocade recommends that prospective BCNE candidates take the Brocade ETH 101 Internetworking Fundamentals for Brocade course or have equivalent networking experience before taking CNE 200.
CCNP Data Center: Cisco Certified Network Professional Data Center
Cisco offers a variety of certifications that address storage networking topics, including the CCENT and the Data Center versions of the CCNA, CCNP and CCIE (in order of difficulty). We chose the CCNP Data Center credential as the best fit for this top five list because it hits the sweet spot in terms of warranting an IT professional's knowledge and understanding of Cisco's storage networking products and platforms in a data center context.
Cisco requires the Cisco Certified Network Associate Data Center (CCNA Data Center) credential or any Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) certification as a prerequisite for the CCNP Data Center.
Of all of the storage-related Cisco certifications, the CCIE Data Center is the most senior and the best-recognized, and while it is a difficult and demanding credential to earn, it comes with a terrific payoff for its holders.
NCDA: NetApp Certified Data Administrator
NetApp has been in the storage business since 1992 and offers a broad line of products and systems for backup and recovery, traditional and virtualized storage and cloud-based data centers. Although NetApp has some stiff competition -- EMC, HP and Hitachi, to name a few -- the company understands the value of flexibility and integration with other third-party products. For example, NetApp worked with Cisco to develop FlexPod, which helps customers manage Citrix, Oracle and SAP applications, and NetApp's hybrid cloud storage integrates with Amazon, Google and Microsoft.
The NCDA recognizes working knowledge of storage area network (SAN) administration, FCP and iSCSI components and configuration, CIFS and NFS management, data aggregation and deduplication, high availability, data clustering, protocol administration, storage performance and security. Candidates must be able to configure controllers running the NetApp Data ONTAP operating system in NFS and Windows (CIFS) environments, and understand NetApp SnapMirror, SnapRestore and SnapVault technologies.
NetApp certifications are valid for 27 months, and credential holders must meet recertification requirements during this period to maintain their certifications.
EMCSA: EMC Storage Administrator Track
EMC has one of the longest-standing and best-recognized certification programs for storage, in keeping with its lengthy presence and excellent recognition as a leading provider of storage solutions of all kinds. The EMC Storage Administrator track includes 12 different specialties or platforms at the Associate, Specialist and Expert levels.
For most EMCSA candidates, their work begins with the Associate-level Information Storage and Management Version 3 exam (E05-001). This qualifies candidates for Associate-level status in all specialty tracks. From there, a candidate pursuing a Specialist certification must pass one more exam in a chosen track. Finally, an Expert credential requires successful completion of an additional exam, available only for the CLARiiON and Symmetrix systems.
HP Master ASE: Storage Solutions Architect V1
HP offers four storage-related certifications in its Expert One program, including:
- HP Master ASE - Storage Solutions Architect V1
- HP ASE - Storage Solutions Architect V1
- HP ATP - Storage Solutions V1
- HP ATA - Servers & Storage V1
The program includes a Master Accredited Solutions Expert (ASE) for storage solutions architecture, a related ASE that serves as a prerequisite for the Master ASE credential, an Accredited Technical Professional (ATP) cert for storage and an Accredited Technical Associate (ATA) for servers and storage.
This defines a fairly complete certification ladder on HP storage products, platforms and solutions. Table 6 covers information for the capstone architect level credential in that sequence, the HP Master ASE - Storage Solutions Architect.