Professional Certification: Linking to IBM Strategy

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It has been said that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. It also could be said that an IT certification program is only as strong as the company or organization it supports. IBM’s Professional Certification Program is linked to the world’s largest information technology company.


The link between the company’s corporate direction and certification is fundamental to the Professional Certification Program. The role-based certifications align with IBM’s strategy and support the broad range of products and solutions that the company offers.


IBM envisions the certification program as a premier provider of highly valued credentials that drive the acquisition of skills in support of IBM’s corporate goals. The mission of IBM professional certification is to:



  • Provide a reliable, valid and fair method of assessing skills and knowledge.
  • Provide IBM with a method of building and validating the skills of individuals and organizations.
  • Develop a loyal community of highly skilled certified professionals who recommend, sell, service, support and use IBM products and solutions.


IBM has a portfolio of certifications designed to meet the needs of a diverse IT community with different skill sets. IBM Certified Professionals can specialize in hardware, software, solutions or services that cross the spectrum of IBM products, solutions and technologies.


Roles for All
The program focuses on all sectors of the certification audience, with certifications designed to be appropriate for each: IBM business partners, IT professionals within an IBM customer account, IBM employees and independent consultants. The IBM certification program also provides certified job roles that span the complete lifecycle of a product or solution: designers and developers, sales representatives and consultants, users and administrators, and support specialists and architects.

Additionally, for these different roles, the certifications are available across the skills continuum—from entry-level to advanced. For example, in the hardware arena, the IBM eServer pSeries program includes IBM Certified Specialist certifications in Sales Solutions, Technical Sales, Basic Operations and Administration & Support. These entry-level certifications are the basis for more advanced pSeries certifications, such as the Certified Systems Expert and the popular Certified Advanced Technical Expert (CATE). On the software side, there is DB2 Information Management, which includes the full range of certified roles, including users, designers, developers and administrators.


Each of the IBM brands offers certification for roles in support of its product line. These are the building blocks that provide the skill to develop, administer and support solutions required in today’s IT industry. (See Figure 1.)


Flexible by Design
Diversity calls for flexibility, and the IBM certification program gives a choice of products, roles and disciplines. IBM-certified individuals can hone in on a single product type, or they can expand their focus to include multiple areas that come together to form a solution. In any case, after selecting a role and product area, candidates can prepare for certification at their own pace.


There are a variety of methods to assist in test preparation. Formal coursework is available, but usually is not required to achieve certification. The key factor is developing the required skills—not the method used to obtain the skill. However, education is closely tied to the certification. For each test, training resources are identified. Typically, there are several methods offered, such as in-class training, e-learning, study guides and reference materials. The candidates can choose what works best for them.


Cross-Brand & Cross-Discipline Certification
IBM business partners need to have the appropriate skills to effectively execute leads and provide a quality solution of products and services to the client.

The IBM Certified Infrastructure Systems Architect (I-SA) is built on the IBM product-related certifications developed by the IBM brands across the corporation and is an example of a cross-brand and cross-discipline certification that targets the IBM business partner community. This certification is highly advanced and requires not only multiple IBM certification exams, but also successful completion of The Open Group Architectural Framework (TOGAF) certification.


To achieve the IBM Certified Infrastructure Systems Architect certification, the IBM Business Partner must meet several requirements within a one-year period:


• Achieve two IBM technical product certifications.
• Achieve the IBM Certified for On Demand Business – Solution Designer certification.
• Complete the TOGAF Architectural methodology education and certification program.
• Complete the Consultative Selling Framework/Discovery Series course and mastery test, #M810.


The I-SA certification is designed to enhance the technical sales and solution design skills of IT professionals within an IBM business partner firm. The primary responsibility of the Infrastructure Systems Architect is to address client infrastructure requirements with IBM server, storage and software middleware solutions. The I-SA provides the technical and architectural leadership necessary to design, describe, document and articulate solutions to address large, complex, multiplatform system client opportunities.

TOGAF is an industry-standard architecture framework developed in the mid-1990s and continues to evolve under the guidance of an Architect Forum with representatives from some of the world’s leading IT organizations.


On Demand Business Strategy
The IBM Certified for On Demand Business – Solution Designer certification is a prerequisite for achieving the I-SA. This certification is another example of a solution-based certification tightly linked with IBM’s corporate strategy.


The Solution Designer certification validates the ability to translate client business requirements into implementable On Demand Business solutions. It takes into consideration security, networking and existing customer environments to design a secure and scalable solution. This certification is for those with general IT consulting or architecting experience.


The Solution Designer is skilled at articulating industry and technology trends within the framework of the IBM On Demand Business strategy, including:



  • Gathering and evaluating customer business requirements.
  • Identifying and documenting current processes and infrastructure related to the business requirements.
  • Designing an On Demand Business solution.
  • Validating the On Demand design.
  • Presenting the solution to the customer.
  • Assisting the project management team with implementation and deployment.


Walking the Certification Walk
Both the I-SA and the On Demand Business Solution Designer certifications target business partners. However, IBM employees also perform these roles and seek these certifications as well. In fact, IBM employees are certified in a variety of roles across the product areas.


IBM understands the value of certification as a skills credential, and employees who achieve certifications are recognized. As a result, there is a large number of IBM employees who are IBM-certified—including developers, IT specialists, architects, consultants, support staff and even the sales force.


This proves that as consumers of its own certifications, IBM walks the certification walk.


IBM Certification Delivers

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