The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) has introduced a program that it hopes will provide consistently high quality vendor-neutral storage training in Australia and New Zealand.
As SNIA writes the standards for interoperability between storage devices, it is ideally placed to offer vendor-neutral certification and training, according to SNIA ANZ executive director, Rob Stirling.
Storage training, he said, has been neglected for too long.
"If you distil storage into its basic element, it's really simple; it's just a big box where all the data goes. But the industry is more about the networks built around the storage," he said.
"The software and the networks around storage are extraordinarily complex. You have to build a SAN or a NAS competently; you have got to provide things like redundancy and mirroring and it's all about effectively utilizing the pipeline and the network."
There are four levels of SNIA certification - Sales Qualification (SQSP), Storage Foundations (SCP), Storage Administration/Management (SCSE) and Storage Architect (SCA). All of these exams are written by SNIA and offered by external computer-based testing company Thomson Prometric for around $US200.
Until now SNIA has not played a role in the pre-certification training, which has been offered in an unsupervised way by any number of training providers.
The new program will see external companies able to have their course material approved by SNIA. All training providers whose courseware has been validated to meet SNIA storage networking certification program (SNCP) objectives then will be listed on the SNIA Web site and will be entitled to market their courseware as SNCP Curriculum, validated by SNIA.
"So until now market forces have been such that if you paid for training by an independent training provider and then sat the exam and failed, you were quite possibly with the wrong trainer," Stirling said.
"This might sound good from a free-market economics perspective, but it's not so good for the end user who keeps forking out the money and failing the exams."
SNIA members Infinity I/O and Knowledge Transfer have signed up for the program in ANZ and are listed as certified training partners.
Stirling said he is also in discussions with several Australian universities that are interested in including the SNIA certifications within their technology curriculum.
While there are moe than 1000 SNIA certified professionals worldwide, only 100 of these are from Australia, but Stirling expects these numbers to increase with the new program.
The certifications are aimed mainly at the channel, but also at engineers within vendor companies and organizations.
"There has been a bit of discussion recently about vendor qualifications holding back the channel. We are thinking that the SNIA qualification can become the baseline qualification in storage and we will offer a discounted price (on the exam) to resellers," Stirling said.
"As a result, resellers will be able to cut down on the thousands of dollars they spend each year on numerous qualifications."