Cisco, EMC, VMware unite behind big data, cloud training initiative

New training bundles are organized around specific disciplines and job roles, including cloud architect and data scientist

As the IT silos come down, tech pros need to beef up their skills to stay relevant and maximize the business benefits of cloud computing, virtualization, unified networking and big data, according to Cisco and EMC, which have teamed to offer training targeted at tech's hottest data center disciplines.

MORE: Critical milestones in Cisco history

IT JOB SPOTTING: Top 20 metro areas for tech jobs

New job roles are emerging as companies adopt converged infrastructures, shift to cloud architectures, and wrangle with massive data stores, and enterprises need to prepare the IT workforce to handle their new roles, the vendors say.

"There's some confusion around cloud, cloud-based services, and how to leverage the cloud as part of an overall organizational transformation. How do you move from classical data centers to virtual data centers to cloud-based data centers?" says Anthony Bryant, director of learning services at Learning@Cisco. "There's also confusion around how to transform the technical talent within this arena."

Unveiled this week, the training initiative from Cisco and EMC also includes resources from VMware. Their joint education bundles provide courseware and certifications related to cloud architecture, virtualization, storage, data center networking and data science. The bundles are organized around specific disciplines and job roles, including cloud architect, systems administrator, backup and recovery, data center network design and data scientist.

"The lines between the traditional silos, or pillars, in IT are starting to blur" in today's IT-as-a-service, cloud-based data center environments, says Alok Shrivastava, senior director of education services at EMC. "They have to, because one group or one function making a decision impacts everybody else," he says. "You might be a system admin or DBA or network admin, and you need to understand what's going on across the different technology areas in the data center."

In the Cisco/EMC/VMware training model, there's a path associated with each discipline that prescribes the required courses to become proficient. For instance, the systems administrator path requires these courses: Cloud Infrastructure and Services, VMware vSphere: Install, Configure, Manage, and Cisco Data Center Unified Computing Implementation (DCUCI). Someone aspiring to be a data center network architect could follow a learning path that includes these courses: EMC Cloud Infrastructure and Services, Cisco Data Center Unified Fabric (DCUFD), and Configuring Cisco Nexus Data Center (CCNDC).

IT pros can opt to purchase courses by the bundle or individually. The training is delivered via instructor-led courses, instructor-led video training, or, in certain cases, on-site instruction at a customer premises.

From the perspective of a CIO of a 1,000-person IT organization, "the success of cloud transformation depends on the team. Beyond the technologies, unless the team has bought into it and has developed new skill sets, the project could very well fail," Shrivastava says. "It becomes extremely critical for CIOs to transform the workforce."

Ann Bednarz covers IT careers, outsourcing and Internet culture for Network World. Follow Ann on Twitter at @annbednarz and check out her blog, Occupational Hazards. Her email address is

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

IT Salary Survey: The results are in