New Architect level certifications focus on virtual and converged environments

Organizations of every size and description are rapidly adopting new data center technologies, including virtualization and cloud computing. Truly transforming a data center, however, requires more than setting up a few virtual machines. When companies need to radically redesign their data centers using the new converged infrastructure platforms and cloud computing models, they need experienced people to guide this process. New architect level certifications from EMC and HP help companies select the appropriate people to guide the transformation process.

In describing how quickly companies are changing their data centers and transforming their IT architectures, Alok Shrivastava of EMC Corporation says, “It’s not evolutionary; it’s revolutionary.” He’s referring to the speed in which companies are implementing virtualized data centers and cloud computing.

Shrivastava is a senior director in EMC Education Services. His company, as well as Hewlett-Packard, is addressing the need for trained and well qualified people to help companies adopt these new infrastructures and technologies.

In December EMC announced two new EMC Proven Professional certification tracks designed to help companies build teams of people who can support the cloud infrastructure and virtualized environments. The tracks are Cloud Architect (EMCCA) and Data Center Architect (EMCDCA), and the training and certifications are based on general concepts and technologies and not just products. Shrivastava calls it an “open curriculum” in that the tracks don’t specifically focus on EMC. Rather, they include a range of technologies such as servers, storage and security that are critical to virtual and cloud computing.

“The Architects are highly skilled and experienced across several technologies,” says Shrivastava. “This aligns to a real business need, in which companies are looking for help to make that transition to deploy virtualized data centers and private clouds.”

EMC’s Data Center track is focused on storage, with specialty certifications pertaining to Storage Networking, Information Availability, Information Storage Security, and Storage Service Management. Associate and Specialist level certifications are available in the Data Center track. The Cloud track is more cross-domain and has a Virtualized Infrastructure Specialist certification and a yet-to-be-released IT-as-a-Service Expert certification. Instructor-led training and case study labs help prepare certification candidates for a proctored exam.

EMC says the ideal candidate for either the EMCCA track or the EMCDCA track has three or more years of design experience in storage, operating systems, and networking, along with knowledge and understanding of designing and managing complex systems, networks and storage with an advent of virtualization. The candidate should also have business application knowledge and common business continuity practices and disaster recovery principles.

HP (www.hp.com) also is announcing a new Architect level certification for highly experienced senior technologists. The HP Master ASE – Converged Infrastructure Architect certification will be available by mid January as part of the HP ExpertONE program. As the certification name implies, this credential is focused on validating a person’s knowledge and skills pertaining to data center infrastructure built on converged technologies. That is, the traditional siloes of servers, storage and networking have been collapsed into adaptive pools of assets that can be shared by many applications and managed as a service.

The Converged Infrastructure Architect blends a heavy dose of vendor-neutral concepts and technologies with a healthy portion of knowledge about HP’s own Converged Infrastructure architecture and products. Add to that a keen focus on business outcomes and return on IT investments. HP expects the ideal candidate to come into this certification with at least ten years of experience in enterprise-level infrastructure design. This person also should possess all the foundational knowledge in infrastructure frameworks as well as IT technologies such as servers, storage, networking, management and software, power & cooling, data centers, virtualization, and cloud computing.

HP is looking worldwide for the cream of the crop among data center architects to apply for this certification. There is an application process in which the candidate’s current skills and experience level will be evaluated. Upon acceptance to the program, the candidate undergoes training where he learns about the reference architecture, products and technologies of the HP way of designing a data center built on virtualization and convergence.

After training, the candidate then faces a proctored exam and a board review exam. In the board review, the candidate is given an enterprise business scenario and he has a day to (re)design the data center based on a converged infrastructure. The candidate then presents his solution to this board of experts as if he were presenting to a Fortune 500 company’s room full of CxOs.

This rigorous screening, training and testing process is designed to ensure that HP puts its stamp of approval on only the world’s best data center architects. In the end, an HP Master ASE – Converged Infrastructure Architect should have the technical, business and leadership skills to work with the most sophisticated enterprises to develop transformative IT infrastructures.

As EMC’s Shrivastava said, companies are adopting these new IT architectures very rapidly. They need expert technologists to guide them through the design and implementation processes. EMC’s and HP’s new certifications aim to help companies know who they can trust for quality expertise and leadership.

Linda Musthaler is a Principal Analyst with Essential Solutions Corporation.  You can write to her at mailto:LMusthaler@essential-iws.com.

______________________________________________________________Essential Solutions researches the practical value of information technology, and how it can make individual workers and entire organizations more productive.  Essential Solutions offers consulting services to computer industry and corporate clients to help define and fulfill the potential of IT.  

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