Hewlett-Packard Certified Professional Program
In early 2001, two large technology companies were running high-stakes, high-volume certification programs. Hewlett-Packard Company had the popular HP STAR and the HP Certified programs. Compaq Computer Corp. owned the Compaq Accredited Professional Program. Each of these programs addressed multiple audiences, covered different technologies and encompassed multiple levels of tracks and achievements.
Then the two companies merged.
Three goals were envisioned as the certification programs were combined:
- Viable certification credentials from both programs would be merged into a certification program for all audiences.
- Compaq’s Accredited Systems Engineer (ASE) would be maintained due to its popularity.
- Previous investments in certification would be protected by providing a migration path into the new program.
“Accomplishing these objectives proved to be a daunting task,” said Tony Croes, the new worldwide certification program manager for HP. “Not only were we dealing with the integration of several large-scale certification programs, but we also had to deal with merging technologies and product lines.”
After several months of intensive integration work, the HP Certified Professional (HPCP) Program was launched worldwide on Feb. 3, 2003. Since the launch, the three most common questions have been: why are there so many certifications, how do I choose the one that is right for me, and what happens to my pre-merger credential?
Why So Many Certifications?
Brian Beneda, certification program architect for the HP Certified Professional Program, explained the reasons for the number of HPCP certifications: “There are four categories of certification aligned by job role, which we call ‘focus areas.’ During our analysis of the different types of jobs that are involved in an IT solution life cycle, we first determined that there are sales representatives who analyze customers’ business needs and sell the solution. Next, there are presales designers who spec out the technical aspects of the solution. Third, there are implementation and support engineers who install and maintain the solution. And finally, there are system administrators and operators who manage the solution. Therefore, HPCP built certifications for Sales, Presales, Integration and Operating Systems to align to the unique needs of each job role.
“Within each focus area, there are multiple levels of certification that correspond to differing levels of skill. The more complex the environment, the higher the skills and knowledge level required. Therefore, we built multiple levels to recognize the various skill levels found within each career path.
“Finally, within each level, we defined different tracks that are associated with various technology or solution areas. For instance, your job might require you to sell a business-critical server solution, or you might be involved with implementing a StorageWorks solution. The ultimate credential that an individual gets is a combination of both the level name and the track name, for example, ‘ASE – StorageWorks.’”
The HPCP exams found in each track are primarily multiple-choice format and are delivered through both Prometric (www.2test.com) and Promissor (www.promissor.com) test delivery centers. HP also has a few exams in the HP-UX Certified Systems Engineer track that are hands-on performance labs. These tests are two-day, practical exams that require exercises on live systems. Future plans for test item creation include more performance-based items, such as simulations and live application testing.
How Do I Select My Certification?
To determine your certification path in the HPCP program, you should:
- Determine a high-level focus area.
- Select a certification track that corresponds to your target product or technology.
- Attain the highest level of certification needed within your focus area.
To complete these steps, you need a general understanding of the four focus areas, the levels of certification and the specific tracks.
The four focus areas can be summarized as follows.
- Sales: HPCP sales-focused certifications ensure that sales professionals can evaluate a customer’s business needs and sell the appropriate HP products, technologies and solutions.
- Presales: HPCP presales certifications equip individuals with the technical skills necessary to effectively plan and design HP solutions for customers.
- Integration: HPCP integration certifications require skills in integrating platforms, operating systems, networking storage and application components into customer solutions.
- Operating System: HP operating system certifications ensure that IT professionals demonstrate basic to intermediate OS installation, configuration and administration skills. At the advanced level, the required skills include integration, performance tuning, management and troubleshooting support for enterprise-class configurations.
Each focus area contains certification levels. These levels include tracks that align with HP products and technologies. For example, within the ASE certification level, there are tracks that focus on ProLiant Servers and other tracks that focus on OpenView technologies.
Sales Levels and Tracks
The entry-level sales certification is Accredited Sales Professional, which is a prerequisite to the advanced sales certification, Accredited Sales Consultant.
The Accredited Sales Professional credential requires an individual to analyze customer business requirements, recognize opportunities and make recommendations from the HP product line that solve business needs. This certification is available for AlphaServers, HP 9000 Servers, imaging and printing and network storage technologies.
The Accredited Sales Consultant credential requires an individual to demonstrate the ability to position and sell HP products and services in an engagement with a customer. This certification is available for enterprise storage solutions, imaging and printing, Superdome and StorageWorks XP.
Presales Levels and Tracks
The entry-level presales certification is Accredited Presales Professional, which is a prerequisite to the advanced presales certification, Accredited Presales Consultant.
The Accredited Presales Professional certification requires an individual to evaluate customer business requirements, recognize opportunities and make recommendations for a solution (including application, platform, operating system, storage, network and option components) that solves business needs. This certification is available for HP 9000 Servers and network storage solutions.
The Accredited Presales Consultant certification requires an individual to evaluate customer business requirements and plan and design a solution (including application, platform, operating system, storage, network and option components) within a specialty area. This certification is available for AlphaServer GS solutions, enterprise storage solutions, Superdome, StorageWorks and Storage Virtualization solutions.
Integration Levels and Tracks
The levels within the Integration focus area include Accredited Platform Specialist, Accredited Integration Specialist, Accredited Systems Engineer and Master Accredited Systems Engineer.
Accredited Platform Specialist is a service-focused certification and is not a prerequisite for the other tracks in the Integration focus. The Accredited Integration Specialist is a prerequisite for Accredited Systems Engineer. Likewise, Accredited Systems Engineer is a prerequisite for Master Accredited Systems Engineer.
The Accredited Platform Specialist certification requires skills in remedial maintenance for the purpose of restoring hardware to operational levels. This certification is available fo