SNIA launches new education, certification programs

The SNIA Technology Center Institute offers vendor-neutral storage networking education for end users and storage integrators.

By Barb Goldworm

The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) recently launched the SNIA Technology Center Institute (TCI), an education program for users and integrators. While the SNIA has provided various education offerings in the past, this announcement represents the first comprehensive storage networking education program geared for users and integrators, covering basic through advanced concepts and skills.

Through surveys and interviews with users and integrators, the SNIA identified the following needs:

  • While there is product-specific training available from hardware and software vendors, users consistently identified a need for vendor-neutral education. This was articulated both by users just starting to evaluate their storage network requirements and by experienced users working in multi-vendor environments doing advanced planning;
  • Understanding what to expect and what to look for from storage networking products (and developing RFPs) is a critical area requiring vendor-neutral education;
  • Vendor-neutral certification is also a hot area, with users looking for both instructor-led training options as well as self-study options; and
  • Users also noted the need for hands-on training to "get their hands dirty" and practice what they're learning.

The SNIA is in a unique position to respond. In addition to its previous education/training programs (tutorials, workshops, publications, educational events, the SNIA Certification Program and its associated Certification Readiness Program, and others), the SNIA operates a multi-million dollar, multi-vendor, storage networking facility.

With a wide range of hardware and software from virtually all vendors, the SNIA Technology Center in Colorado Springs, CO, provides the multi-vendor testing and demonstration environment for all SNIA programs. These programs include the Storage Networking World (SNW) Interoperability and Solutions Demo, Storage Management Initiative development and test lab (SMI-Lab), SNIA Conformance Test Program (SNIA-CTP), Supported Solutions Forum (SSF) Solutions testing facilities, and others. While some users have seen a subset of the Technology Center equipment at the SNW Interoperability Demo, most have not had an opportunity to take advantage of the full resources.

The new Technology Center Institute offers access to these resources as part of a student's learning experience. Instead of lab exercises on paper, TCI classes offer interactive labs to give users hands-on learning.

Courses offered through TCI were developed by education providers and have been specifically designed to leverage the "Technology Center Advantage," which involves use of the extensive lab equipment. TCI provider partners currently include Howard Goldstein Associates, Infinity I/O, Solution Technology, and WBEM Solutions.

SNIA certification

While many people are looking for training to help them do their jobs better, some are specifically interested in achieving levels of storage network certification. Various certifications exist from numerous vendors, as well as from the SNIA. However, overlapping certifications from multiple vendors have become an issue. The SNIA is addressing these issues.

For example, the organization is rolling out a new generation of the SNIA Storage Networking Certification Program (SNCP). The new program extends beyond Fibre Channel and will provide building blocks of certification covering concepts, standards, and solutions. This approach provides a common structure for vendors to build their product certifications on and can help reduce certification and course overlap.

The new SNIA certification program has already begun with the Storage Network Foundations Exam (S10-100), introduced in May. This exam covers general concepts and is the base requirement for all SNIA certification credentials.

For those wanting instructor-led training (ILT) to help them prepare for the exam, there are courses offered through TCI. (Classroom training, however, is not a prerequisite to taking any SNIA certification exams.) For users/integrators who want an overview on storage networking, there is a three-day Storage Network Foundations (SN101) course that was launched this summer. For users who already have a strong foundation and just want help on specific advanced topics on the exam (e.g., SMI-S, IP storage, storage security), there is a two-day Foundations Exam Prep (SN 102) course following SN101.

In the Fibre Channel area, there are three TCI courses that provide information and hands-on experience for the existing SAN Practitioner Exam—the five-day SAN Workshop (SN201), a five-day FC SAN Implementation course (SN 221), and a three-day FC protocol course (SN225).

The new certification program will also expand to cover areas beyond Fibre Channel, such as IP storage. The TCI program currently offers an IP storage track, including basic and advanced courses and a TCP/IP and Internet Technologies course.

TCI curricula and courses

The TCI program includes three separate curricula to address differing requirements and audiences. The Solutions Curriculum provides courses that cover cross-technology issues and solutions (e.g., both Fibre Channel and IP storage) and looks at overall storage networking challenges from the user/integrator perspective. This curriculum starts with the Foundations courses discussed above and currently includes the SAN Workshop and an advanced course on Planning, Design, Performance, and Troubleshooting (SN301).

The Technologies Curriculum is geared more for specialization by technology and can be helpful for users, integrators, or vendors. This curriculum includes tracks on Fibre Channel, IP storage, and SCSI protocols, for example.

The SMI Developer Curriculum provides training for anyone developing SMI-enabled products.

Where to start?

Figuring out where to start can be confusing, so here's a guide:

  • If you are new to storage networking and need a solid base to get started, take the Foundations Course (SN101) and consider the 102 Exam Prep Extensions.
  • If you are already certified, but need to take the foundations exam and you want instructor-led training, take the Foundations Exam Prep (102) course.
  • If you want to take the Foundations exam and would like a current overview of the state of storage networking, as well as learning whatever's needed for the exam, take the Foundations Course (101) with the Exam Extensions (102).
  • If you are working toward Fibre Channel certification, consider the three Fibre Channel courses mentioned above to see which suits you best.
  • If you are looking for hands-on experience in implementing and managing a SAN, consider the SAN Workshop, FC SAN implementation courses, and IP storage courses.
  • If you are an experienced user/integrator looking for advanced skills in design, performance tuning, troubleshooting, etc., consider the Planning, Design, Performance, Troubleshooting class as well as the SAN Workshop and FC SAN implementation classes.

For more information about the SNIA Technology Center Institute, visit www.snia.org/tech_center/institute/. If you need help determining the best fit, e-mail TCI at tcinfo@snia.org or call (719) 884-8910. For more information about the SNIA Certification Program, go to www.snia.org/education/certification/.

Barb Goldworm is an independent analyst and consultant with more than 25 years' experience in systems and storage management with IBM, StorageTek, Novell, and several start-ups. She is currently program advisor for the SNIA Technology Center Institute. Goldworm can be reached at barbgoldworm@focusonstorage.com.

This article was originally published on September 01, 2004