In the world of certifications, there are generally a few that are common knowledge among the general IT networking world: Cisco’s CCNA and CCSP certifications, for example, are known to the majority of the IT world, as are certifications like Microsoft’s MCP program or the A+ certification for desktop support specialists.
There are, however, other certifications out there that are definitely worth looking at; certifications that, while not as well-known as some of the above, are great certifications that will help you specialize in a field or niche that you’re interested in: One of these, for example, is NetApp; they specialize in storage networking solutions that aren’t all that prevalent in other certifications paths.
The only other really industry-standard data storage and networking certification is the SNIA Storage Networking Certification Program, a vendor-neutral certificate that shows your proficiency in designing and implementing storage networking solutions. While this is a great starting point for data storage certification and most IT employees looking to go into this field should think about getting it, employers want to see real-world vendor-specific examples of technical proficiency – (Think Cisco and Microsoft certification paths) and in the data storage networking world, NetApp is a big player in that regard.
NetApp certifications start at the professional level, as an NetApp Certified Data Management Administrator (NCDA). It is a great first certificate to have, even if you don’t intend to go any further in the data storage networking world; it’s a certificate that shows you can troubleshoot, support, and optimize any data storage environments that may exist in your enterprise network. SANs and their implementation, whether as NFS or CIFS, tend to be very common in enterprise environments, and this certification is going to be fairly useful at a general level.
The next certificate on the chain is more specialized; the NCIE, or NetApp Certified Implementation Engineer, has two different routes; an NCIE can specialize in either SAN administration and virtualization or backup and recovery (or both). These certificates are quite a bit more specialized than the beginning NCDA certification, so it may not help your career path to take both of them unless you’re looking to work in a large data center or similar environment that specializes in these sorts of network data storage management. Make sure to assess which certificate is best for your situation, and specialize in that direction to make the most of the NCIE!
The NetApp certification path is a great one for getting a little off the beaten road of Microsoft and Cisco-certified IT workers; while many people have Cisco and Microsoft certifications, NetApp’s certifications are just as valuable in a networking environment and they show that you have the skills and experience necessary to maintain a networked data storage environment at a corporate or enterprise level!