CompTIA and SNIA combine on revised storage networking certification

Mortar BoardMajor trade organizations CompTIA and the Storage Networking Industry Association are working together to offer a new certification for storage networking.

The new CompTIA Storage+ Powered by SNIA certification will replace SNIA’s own Storage Foundations certification, in a bid to create a worldwide baseline standard for storage networking that is validated by the ISO. Storage Foundations was due for an update, and rather than continue to go it alone, SNIA decided to work with CompTIA to create a new certification that meets the needs of a changing marketplace.

“The average data centre has all sorts of moving parts from all sorts of vendors, and no part of the market summarized this more than storage and storage networking, said Rick Bauer, director of product management at CompTIA.

The announcement of the partnership is the culmination of a lot of discussions behind the scenes – in fact, talks between the two associations have been going on for almost two years.

“We had a couple of choices – to invest the time and subject matter expertise into a refresh of Foundations, or to work with another organization, one with a global footprint, that complements the expertise of our community and our technical council, and takes that a level up, said Leo Leger, executive director of SNIA. “Synergy is the operative word for us.”

The revised certification will take into consideration a variety of changes in the storage networking marketplace over recent years, the largest of which is the emergence of Ethernet as a more mainstream and viable competitor to the dominant Fibre Channel interconnect. Other topics making their way into Storage+ include virtualization, green storage and Fibre Channel over Ethernet.

The program is still under development, with the plan to offer 300 or 400 test exams during the second quarter of this year. Bauer said both organizations hope to test the revised certification over the summer and have a final specification through the ISO process by the end of the year.

“Given the collaboration we’ve had and the progress we’ve made thus far, we see this as being done efficiently and with the kind of scale CompTIA has not had before,” he said.

From there, the groups will turn their attention to getting the broad community of SNIA Storage Foundations-certified professionals switched over to the new Storage+ brand. To help keep existing members in the loop, Leger said all Foundation credential-holders can participate in the beta phase of the program.

“We want to make sure the investment that members of SNIA have made are protected and that they know they aren’t being shut out,” he said.

That said, the new credentials would start from scratch, a requirement to meet the goal of getting ISO approval for its process. Bauer said the organizations are working on ways to incent current credential-holders to upgrade to Storage+

SNIA will continue to offer its own independent medium- and higher-level certifications even after Storage+ is in the market, the companies said.

One of the big reasons for working with CompTIA is its reach into the channel, and the value that a storage certification can drive for solution providers, Leger said. The demand for partners that offer a vendor-agnostic view on storage networking is great, particularly in regions like Europe, where even vendor storage reps are expected to have industry-wide knowledge to be legitimate.

“No one product owns best breed in the space,” Bauer said. “Someone who’s in the channel and understands what products can and can’t do, who understands the technology first and the products second, can really benefit from the logarithmic growth of storage.”

Bauer sees Storage+ as filling one of the biggest needs in the company’s lineup of certifications, and sees it as potentially opening the door to bigger, broader technology certifications in the future.

“When you put something like Storage+ together with Network+, Server+ and Security+, you’ve got the potential for an über-credential that’s pretty attractive as well – a master data centre credential as it were,” he said, looking at the future.

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Robert Dutt

Robert Dutt is the founder and head blogger at ChannelBuzz.ca. He has been covering the Canadian solution provider channel community for a variety of publications and Web sites since 1997. 

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