Brocade Certification: A Storage Solution
As companies discover increasing requirements for storing data and business continuity, storage area networks (SANs) are being implemented frequently. SANs provide a high-speed network to directly connect client devices to storage peripherals. A major benefit of a SAN infrastructure is that it is separate from the data network or local area network (LAN), to allow a faster, more scalable backup and recovery solution. In addition, the LAN can be utilized more efficiently for day-to-day operations.
Other benefits include the consolidation of both storage and servers. In the past, storage capacity was directly proportional to the quantity of servers. Storage units were directly attached to the servers and usually accommodated storage for that server only. This is called direct attached storage (DAS). The incorporation of a SAN infrastructure allows for “shared” storage and elimination of storage from the server infrastructure.
Recently, storage has become a major source of growth for Corporate America as it has grown into a considerable expenditure within IT budgets. The increased use of the Internet (e-business) and the implementation of additional applications has resulted in an intensified awareness of additional data and increased storage needs. DAS is inefficient in that storage is not shared across the infrastructure, creating the need for more and more storage units, when in reality there may be storage capacity already available. This has led to the increased deployment of SAN solutions throughout the industry.
The deployment of SAN solutions has created a need for certified SAN engineers to provide proven, best-of-breed technology. Brocade, a leader in SAN Fabric Switches, provides certifications that validate the knowledge required to implement industry-leading SAN technology used in real-world storage applications. The Brocade designs are focused on server and storage consolidation, LAN-free and server-less backup, remote data replication and dynamic storage management.
Two of the certifications Brocade currently offers are the Brocade Certified Fabric Professional (BCFP) and the Brocade Certified SAN Designer (BCSD).
The Brocade Certified Fabric Professional (BCFP) provides the foundation for all of Brocade’s storage certifications. The certification requires the proficiency to install, configure and troubleshoot various Brocade products and become capable in the intricacies of Brocade SilkWorm switches. Only one exam must be passed in order to achieve this level of certification, and there are no prerequisites.
The Brocade Certified Fabric Professional exam tests candidates for knowledge and expertise in the following areas. The exam may contain additional questions about other SAN topics not listed below.
- Hardware, Environmental and Field Replaceable Unit (FRU) Specifications: 1000 series switches; 2×00 series switches; 20×0 series switches; 22×0 series switches; 3000 series switches; 6400 switches; 12000 switches; and GBICs supported.
- Switch Ports: Types of switch ports available; port initialization (process and causes of); and addressing formats (public versus private).
- Fibre Channel Theory and Concepts: Fibre channel class of service; fibre channel protocol layers; WWN format; and state changes.
- Installation and Setup: Switch quick installation procedures; and LEDs.
- Fabric OS: Login capabilities; password changes; FirmwareDownload Process; and Fabric OS commands.
- Cascading: Static route command; principal switch and path; dynamic load sharing (DLS); in order delivery (IOD); link cost; remote switch; and extended fabric.
- Zoning: Zone types; enforcement mechanisms; Telnet commands; enforcement (hardware/software); broadcast zoning; and zoning steps.
- QuickLoop: Features and modes of operation; Quickloop commands; QL initialization (two pass process); issued with Quickloop; QL zoning; zone enforcement; alias options; QL zone commands; define a zone with AL_PA components (three methods).
- QL with Fabric Assist: Features and modes (across fabric); Fabric Assist commands; locking ports (public or private); LIP propagation; AL_PA assignments; and troubleshooting.
- Switch Management: Web tools and fabric watch; configuration options; views; commands; and trunking (options and requirements).
- Diagnostics: Hardware versus software; Telnet interface error format; circuit tests; and port functional tests.
A Brocade Certified SAN Designer (BCSD) is the second-tier certification recognized by Brocade. The certification requires that the individual pass the Brocade Certified Fabric Professional test, establishing a SAN knowledge foundation. This certification establishes a detailed understanding of SAN design as well as the ability to implement complete SAN solutions. In addition to the BCFP exam, the candidate must pass only the Brocade Certified SAN Designer exam to become certified.
The Brocade Certified SAN Designer exam tests candidates for knowledge and expertise in the following areas. The exam may contain additional questions about other SAN topics not listed below.
- SAN Design Considerations: Network, systems, storage and ownership characteristics of the environment; customer’s business goals and associated budget; and terminology.
- Characteristics of a SAN Design: Resiliency and reliability of each fabric topology; business continuance/disaster tolerance; ISL over-subscription; locality; scalability; port count; trunks; distance limitations; tiered topologies; FSPF costs; and RAID levels.
- SAN Implementations: Integration methods of a SAN into an existing infrastructure; configuration requirements for implementation (e.g., domain, IP address, zone licensing); allocation of storage; and procedures to enable a restoration.
- SAN Management: Maintenance procedures; threshold values; management platforms; performance monitoring; troubleshooting the SAN when devices are not “recognized”; troubleshooting power outages; and troubleshooting performance degradation.
In the IT industry, certifications are means to validate an individual’s expertise within a specified area. The Brocade Certified Fabric Professional and Brocade Certified SAN Designer certifications are two of the tools necessary to demonstrate the capabilities of a SAN professional. As an added benefit to achieving either of these SAN certifications, Brocade provides a 10 percent list price discount on future training classes at their facilities. The groundwork has also been laid to expand the levels of certification in the near future by incorporating the Brocade Certified SAN Architect credential. These certifications could not replace years of industry experience, but they do provide the foundation to design, implement, support and manage storage area networks using Brocade SilkWorm switches.
Rich Parsons has been involved in consulting for more than eight years and is currently a senior consultant with Callisma. His certifications include the Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) and Brocade’s BCFP and BCSD. E-mail Rich at email@example.com.