The recession may have led people to tighten their purse strings, but it hasn’t diminished the popularity or value of certain vendor-neutral certifications.
Recent research by Foote Partners LLC has revealed that three certifications offered by the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) — the Certified Systems Engineer, Certified Architect and Certified Storage Networking Expert — increased in value by 9 to 12 percent toward the end of 2008.
Moreover, the fact that the credentials are vendor-neutral has proven to be advantageous to job seekers.
“We’ve found that most students who earn our credentials have a particular vendor-specific certification already, and what they’re looking for is a broader exposure to the technology — particularly something as complex as storage networking,” said Rick Bauer, technology and education director for SNIA.
“There are a lot of different moving parts, so a more holistic look at the data center — from a foundation aspect to management to architecture — is what’s needed,” he added.
This experience equips candidates with skills that may be more marketable in today’s competitive job market. For instance, a candidate may be in a position to influence storage equipment purchasing decisions when called upon by CTOs.
“[CTOs] want to get an answer from someone who’s got a comprehensive exposure to all the technologies, not just a particular one,” Bauer said. “SNIA-certified [individuals] can advise those buying decisions well because they understand all the different parts and how they work together.”
In January, SNIA introduced the SNIA Qualified Storage Sales Professional (SQSSP) credential in response to a rising need for storage sales professionals to optimize on-the-job proficiency. The training, which typically lasts one or two days, teaches these non-IT professionals basic storage networking concepts and terminology so they can converse knowledgeably with all ranges of IT professionals, from the storage network manager to the CTO or CIO, Bauer explained.
“These folks are not running storage or data centers; they’re selling into that environment [and] want to be able to speak coherently about the technologies,” he said. For example, they wouldn’t want to “confuse virtualization with storage fabric.”
Following the success of the SQSSP, SNIA now is building qualification credentials in storage virtualization as well as backup and recovery.
As a result of high turnover rates both in the IT industry and in corporate America in general today, employers are seeking candidates who can validate their skill sets through certifications and credentials, Bauer explained. Furthermore, employers need candidates who, upon joining the company, can hit the ground running.
“It’s long past the point where people can learn on the job using customer data, and a lot of IT professionals don’t have the time to do the kind of hands-on training with junior [employees] to get them up to speed,” he explained. “[Companies] are looking for a way to make sure [employees] have that awareness [without needing] to provide it themselves.”
– Deanna Hartley, firstname.lastname@example.org