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SNIA And CompTIA Raise Certification Bar

The association considered the leader in storage certifications, the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA), and the association considered the leader in vendor-neutral IT certifications, CompTIA, are joining forces to create a new certification for storage networking and information management. Work started on developing the new certification, CompTIA Storage+ Powered by SNIA, in the third quarter of 2010, according to Rick Bauer of CompTIA's skills certification department. "Our goal is to have the beta out late-February, early-March," he says. Following a validation period, the final product is expected in the third or fourth quarter timeframe, he adds.

The new certification is intended to be a comprehensive validation of the knowledge and skills necessary to support various solutions and technologies in data storage, storage networking, data protection and the underlying interconnect technologies. It's an ambitious undertaking, spanning multiple technologies and vendors, says SNIA executive director Leo Leger. "We see this as two very good partners with the opportunity to do something very good for the storage community," he says.

In addition to the individual storage vendors' certifications, there have been several recent attempts to address a heterogeneous IT environment, including HP's ExpertONE and IBM's VISION Cloud -- Virtualized Storage Services for the Future Internet. SNIA says a recent Gartner report (Gartner Analysts Explore Innovation Forces in Information Infrastructure) illustrates the move to an information-centric IT service model and the growing requirement for a "skilled storage staff able to work internationally with a uniform set of demonstrated capabilities that has been documented." The challenge with this trend is that while storage demand continues to soar, IT budgets remain relatively flat and headcount can't keep pace, says Bauer. So a vendor-neutral certification is needed. The objective is to build an ISO-approved credential that will address both the international requirements, as well as something that can be embraced by the academic community, he adds.

Analyst David G. Hill, a principal with Mesabi Group, is a strong advocate for certification. "With the growing complexity of managing storage, education becomes ever more necessary, and certification measures whether or not that education process was successful," he says. "Note that SNIA has done quite well with certification programs in the past. The need to go further is well recognized, so this joint effort should be welcome."

The new certification will replace SNIA's Storage Network Foundations credential, but every effort will be made to include the existing holders, says Bauer. "We will give a free beta exam to every existing SNIA Foundations holder. These are the very people that we want to validate that the new exam is on target." While discussions with storage vendors, including IBM, about the new certification have been ongoing, that's still a work in progress, says Leger. Previous partnerships have included NetApp, Hitachi Data Systems, Cisco, EMC, Hewlett-Packard, Brocade and LSI.