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NetApp partners and their certifications: an overview

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

NetApp partnersNetApp partner certifications are an important part of the NetApp partner program. A recurring complaint of NetApp partners when I advise them on the partner certifications is that they are difficult to understand. In this blog therefore a simple explanation of the basics of the NetApp partner certifications.

How is the certification program composed, which roles and levels are distinguishable and what is required of NetApp partners and their employees?

NetApp partners: why is certification necessary?

Let’s start at the beginning: why would NetApp partners care about certifications? For NetApp partners the answer to this question is different than from NetApp itself.

When a NetApp partner possesses the required certifications the organization will receive advantages like attention and rebates. The partner can furthermore service his clients by committing the knowledge that is present within the organization.

NetApp on the other hand has a different goal for partner certifications: more quantifiable knowledge in the market will lead to more sales and the realization of a bigger market share.

Plenty of reasons to explore the matter some more.

Different partner certifications

Several partner certifications exist within the partner program. This way both small and large NetApp partners are able to participate in the partner program. It goes without saying that NetApp will grant a higher status to partners who possess many certifications. But NetApp will also expect more from these partners. A higher revenue and more knowledge, for instance.

NetApp distinguishes 5 partner certifications:

  • Star International
  • Star
  • PlatinumGold and Gold with PSC (Professional Services Certification)
  • Silver

The hierarchy in this order is obvious.

Different roles

To function optimally the organization will need specialists in several areas. Therefore the certification program for NetApp partners distinguishes 3 different roles:

  • Account Manager / Sales
  • Systems Engineer
  • Implementation Engineer

Different levels

The role of, for instance, a Systems Engineer at a start-up Silver partner differs from that of the System Engineer at a renowned Star partner. Besides roles, the certification program therefore distinguishes levels too:

  • Professional
  • Specialist
  • Expert

At this time only the levels Professional and Specialist exist within the partner program.

Learning paths

Every role on any level requires a number of learning goals. These are defined in learning paths. A learning path consists of the following components:

  • Assessments: these can be found at the NetApp Learning Center, as a free service for NetApp partners, or are included in training sessions.
  • Web Based Training (WBT): these can be found at the NetApp Learning Center, as a free service for NetApp partners.
  • Instructor-Led Training (ILT): these are organized by NetApp Learning Partners and can be paid with Training Units.
  • Exams: exams can be booked at exam center Pearson VUE.
  • Personal certifications

Personal NetApp certifications

A small detour to personal NetApp certifications. Personal certifications provide an employee with the possibility to showcase his or her expertise and skills. The arrival of Data ONTAP Cluster-Mode, E-Series and clustered Data ONTAP 8.3 has made the landscape of personal certifications a bit more unclear. An overview of the most important certifications:

CertificationOperating SystemExam
NCSAData ONTAP 7-Mode and clustered Data ONTAPNS0-145
NCDA 7-ModeData ONTAP 7-Mode NS0-155
NCDA cDOTclustered Data ONTAPNS0-157
NCIE SAN 7-ModeData ONTAP 7-ModeNS0-502
NCIE SAN cDOTclustered Data ONTAPNS0-506
NCIE SAN E-seriesE-SeriesNS0-505
NCIE Data Protection cDOTclustered Data ONTAPNS0-511
Converged Infrastructure
Cisco and NetApp FlexPod Design
FlexPodNS0-170
Converged Infrastructure
Cisco and NetApp FlexPod Implementatioin and Adminstration
FlexPodNS0-171

NetApp partner certifications: all components combined

Now that we have collected all components we can built a complete certification program for clustered Data ONTAP. Per status the minimum annual revenue in NetApp products and number of specialists is shown.

PartnercertificeringOmzetRollen
Star International€ 16M6x Sales Professional
3x System Engineer Professional
3x Systems Engineer Specialist
2x Implementation Professional cDOT
1x Implementation Professional E-series (optional)
Star€ 10M6x Sales Professional
3x System Engineer Professional
3x Systems Engineer Specialist
2x Implementation Professional cDOT
1x Implementation Professional E-series (optional)
Platinum€ 4M4x Sales Professional
2x System Engineer Professional
2x Systems Engineer Specialist
2x Implementation Professional cDOT
1x Implementation Professional E-series (optional)
Gold PSC€ 500K2x Sales Professional
1x Systems Engineer Professional
2x Implementation Professional cDOT
1x Implementation Professional E-series (optional)
Gold€ 500K2x Sales Professional
1x Systems Engineer Professional
1x NCDA cDOT
1x Implementation Professional E-series (optional)
Silver€ 60K2x Sales Professional

If you apply the above diagram and combine this with the learning paths in the NetApp Learning Center (logging in with a Support ID is obligated) it is quite simple to determine what requirements belong to which status. Together with NetApp, a NetApp Learning Partner, like Fast Lane, will be able to indicate exactly which components are still missing for the (continued) fulfilment of the demands NetApp requires of the partners.

If you have any questions about the certifications for NetApp partners, feel free to contact me. I’ll be happy to help!

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A shortage in IT professionals: is a talent program the solution?

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

Tekort aan IT-personeelWell-educated ICT professionals are hard to find” [Dutch], “Shortage in higly skilled ICT professionals” [Dutch], “ICT branche fears shortage in good staff” [Dutch]: the message is clear, there is a shortage in IT professionals. In well-educated IT professionals, to be exact. A talent program can be a solution for many organizations.

Talent program, Young Professionals program, Talent Development program, Partner Talent program, Talent@Work program: it are all terms with roughly the same meaning. But what are they exactly? And how can these programs help solve the shortage in IT professionals? Is it solely intended for large organizations or also for the smaller ones? In this blogpost I will answer those and other questions.

A shortage in IT professionals: why a talent program?

There has been a shortage in IT professionals for years now. In well-educated IT professionals, to be exact. A problem for many organizations. That problem is even bigger when you take into account the increased importance of IT within organizations in the previous years. The damage of a non-functioning IT infrastructure can be considerable. Think about the internet that is down, important applications that do not work or hackers that break into the infrastructure because the security does not work. Those are scenarios that the management of an organization would rather not face.

The solution lies in finding and hiring a well-educated IT staff. But this may be more harder than it sounds. Finding suitable candidates with the required profile is pretty difficult. This is precisely what talent programs are responding to.

Instead of hiring candidates who meet all requirements an organization hires candidates, talents, who don’t meet all requirements yét at the time of their recruitment. By means of a specific educational plan the candidate obtains the missing expertise within a defined period and puts this expertise immediately into practice.

In general it concerns young candidates with the ambition to specialize in IT. But age is no requirement. Older re-entrants are no less eligible.

A talent program: the components in a row

  • The influx profile is flexible, the outflow profile is set and key
  • The focus is on the educational plan
  • Practical experience is very important
  • Clear agreements are the basis

It will gladly clarify these components.

The influx profile is flexible, the outflow profile is set and key

With ‘influx profile’ I mean the profile that the candidate has when he or she enters the program. ‘Outflow profile’ stands for the knowledge, skills and experience he or she has obtained at the completion of the program.

It may sound a bit strange, but with the recruitment of talent an imperative influx demand doesn’t exist. Hence the before mentioned: the influx profile is flexible. After all, the idea is to work on the deficits during the program. Of course it is important that the candidate possesses the ambition and talent to obtain the necessary theoretical knowledge and the ability to put this into practice in a relatively short time. The candidate fits well into the culture of the organization and has good communication skills so that he or she can perform projects with clients independently.

The outflow profile is set and key. The organization determines the profile that the candidate needs to meet at the end of the program and this profile will be pursued during the whole period.

An example: when I advise organizations that are suffering from a shortage in well-educated staff I have noticed that there is often a need for candidates who not only possess the CCNP certification and specific knowledge on the security solution Fortinet, but also virtualization expertise in the area of VMware and several years of professional experience. This profile is very hard to find. Therefore the vacancy continues and is filled with (much more expensive) hired workers in the meantime.

However, if we turn this profile into an outflow profile and train the talent to meet this profile, it dóes become a realistic target.

The focus is on the educational plan

I mentioned it before: the outflow profile will be pursued during the whole program. The focus is on the educational plan. There is a need for a fitting educational plan that is consistent with the previous knowledge of the candidate and can be met within the relative short time that is available. It is preferable to allocate the courses over time so that the candidate can process the knowledge sufficiently and is able to put it into practice immediately.

Practical experience is very important

Independent study and practicing in simulated environments may be fun for a short while, but in time it will not lead to good results. I always advise to get the basic knowledge into order first, and subsequently a period wherein the candidate job shadows an experienced engineer from his or her own organization and/or performs helpdesk activities. Only then the pieces will start to fall into place, ensuring a smooth process of knowledge building. After 2 months the candidate will continue the program.

Clear agreements are the basis

A talent program means: investing in a new employee. Clear agreements are the basis. In my view there are 4 major agreements:

  1. employment contract at the start of the program.
  2. employment contract at the completion of the program.
  3. learning agreement that contains the student loans and the repayment schedule.
  4. worker benefits like a laptop, a phone and a car.

In my experience a talent program takes 6 to 24 months. The precise duration depends on the difference between in the influx and outflow profile. It goes without saying that it is important to agree beforehand on the conditions of employment at the end of the program.

The learning agreement is meant to protect the investment made against an early departure of the employee. The financial risks can never be covered completely, but in any case it is important to share the value of a talent program with the candidate.

Finally it must be prevented that discussion on the worker benefits arises during or after the program.

A talent program: for which organizations is it intended?

Talent programs are intended for all organizations that suffer from a shortage in IT professionals. So it is also intended for medium-sized and small organizations that only want to develop 1 or a few candidates.

In our own Talent@Work program we’ll take everything of the hands of your organization: from the selection and recruitment to the outflow. And still it remains possible to request for 1 or a few candidates. The program is after all custom-made. The duration, the influx profile and the outflow profile may differ.

A shortage in IT professionals: if it isn’t there you have to make it yourself

If it isn’t there you have to make it yourself: that is what a talent program represents. Instead of searching for a profile that is nowhere to be found in the market, developing a new employee yourself is a good option. One that works for both larger and smaller organizations.

Getting cold feet by the thought of organizing it? Let me know. I will be happy to help.

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New NCDA and NCIE certifications: a list of frequently asked questions

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

New NCDA and NCIE certificationsWith the arrival of cDOT 8.3 NetApp will not only introduce new courses and specializations, the certification program will also contain some major changes.
New NCDA and NCIE exams and certifications, new names for existing certifications, new regulations concerning exams and certifications, in short, a lot is changing. In this blog I have listed the questions most frequently asked about the new certifications.

Which new exams will be available for NCDA and NCIE?

On May 15th 2015 the following NetApp exams will be available:

  • NS0-157, NCDA cDOT (replaces NS0-156)
  • NS0-506, NCIE SAN cDOT (replaces NS0-504)
  • NS0-511, NCIE Data Protection (replaces NS0-510)

What will change within the NCDA certification?

From May 15th 2015 a distinction will be made between NCDA 7-Mode and NCDA cDOT within the NCDA certification. The exam NS0-156 will be cancelled.

An important note: despite the changes the already obtained certifications will still be valid. It won’t be necessary to take the exams again.

Current name and acronymNew name and acronymExam
NetApp Certified Data Administrator
(NCDA)
NetApp Certified Data Administrator, Data ONTAP 7-Mode
(NCDA 7-Mode)
NS0-155
NetApp Certified Data Administrator, Clustered Data ONTAP
(NCDA cDOT)
NS0-157

After May 15th 2015 the exams for 7-Mode, including the exam NS0-155, will not be renewed. Thus the certificate will not have an expiry date anymore, it will stay valid forever.

What will change within the NCIE-SAN certification?

From May 15th 2015 a distinction will be made between NCIE SAN 7-Mode, NCIE SAN cDOT and NCIE SAN E-Series within the NCIE certification. The exam NS0-504 will be cancelled.

An important note: despite the changes the already obtained certifications will still be valid. It won’t be necessary to take the exams again.

Current name and acronymNew name and acronymExam
NetApp Certified SAN Implementation Engineer
(NCIE SAN)
Specialist, 7-Mode
(NCIE SAN 7-Mode)
NS0-502
NetApp Certified Implementation Engineer - SAN Specialist, Clustered Data ONTAP
(NCIE SAN cDOT)
NS0-506
NetApp Certified Implementation Engineer - SAN Specialist, E-Series
(NCIE SAN E-Series)
NS0-505

Do you want to certify for NCIE SAN cDOT after May 15th 2015? In that case you require the NCDA cDOT certification. NCDA 7-Mode will no longer suffice. A NCDA certification is not mandatory for NCIE SAN E-Series. NCDA 7-Mode will stay mandatory for NCIE SAN 7-Mode.

After May 15th 2015 the exams for 7-Mode, including the exam NS0-502, will not be renewed. Thus the certificate will not have an expiry date anymore, it will stay valid forever.

What will change within the certification NCIE Backup & Recovery?

From May 15th 2015 the NCIE Backup & Recovery certification will be replaced by the NCIE Data Protection certification. The exam NS0-510 will be cancelled.

An important note: despite the changes the already obtained certifications will still be valid. It won’t be necessary to take the exams again.

Current name and acronymNew name and acronymExam
NetApp Certified Backup & Recovery Implementation Engineer
(NCIE B&R)
NetApp Certified Implementation Engineer - Data Protection Specialist
(NCIE Data Protection)
NS0-511

Until when can you take the NetApp exams that will be cancelled?

Until June 14th 2015.

Until May 15th 2015 only the current NetApp exams will be available. If you want to take the exam between May 15th and June 14th 2015 you can choose whether you want to take the current exam or the new exam. After June 14th 2015 only the new exams will be available.

What happens to the NetApp certificates you have already obtained?

There will be 2 changes:

  1. The name changes, depending on the exam you have passed. For example: you are now NetApp Certified Data Administrator (NCDA) because you passed the exam NS0-155. After May 15th 2015 you will be NetApp Certified Data Administrator, Data ONTAP 7-Mode.
  2. The expiry date of your certificate changes. The expiry date for certificates for 7-Mode lapses – certificates will be valid forever – and the earlier communicated expiry date of all other certificates will be postponed with 3 months. Those certificates will henceforth be valid for 27 months instead of 24, to provide everyone with the opportunity to certify himself again during NetApp Insight.

Do you get a new proof of certification and a new logo?

Yes. Because of the name change you have a right to a new proof of certification with the right name. Go to your CertCenter account, select Certifications and print the PDF document. NetApp doesn’t send paper certificates.

You will also receive new logos that will be available in your CertCenter account in June or July.

What else will change in the area of NetApp exams from May 15th 2015?

When you take the exam in a non-English-speaking country you will get 30 more minutes to complete the exam than when you take it in an English-speaking country.

If you took the NetApp exam for the first time, didn’t pass and want to try it for a second time, you will have to wait at least 24 hours before you can take it again. If you don’t pass the second time either, you will have to wait at least 14 days before you can take the exam again.

If you passed the NetApp exam, you will have to wait at least 18 months before you can take the same exam again.

NetApp introduces Provisional Exam Scoring: after the exam you will receive a provisional result. Only after a statistical analysis of approximately 3 working days you will receive the definitive result by e-mail.

You have attended the 5-day NetApp training on cDOT 8.2. Do you need additional courses to prepare for the exam NS0-157: the exam for cDOT 8.3?

When you attend the online course Clustered Data ONTAP 8.3: New Features, available in the NetApp Learning Center, you will learn more about the new features of cDOT 8.3. The course is free and will last approximately 2 hours.

Will there also be new courses available?

With the arrival of NetApp cDOT 8.3 the course Clustered Data ONTAP 8.2 Administration (DCADM) has been replaced by the course Clustered Data ONTAP Administration and Data Protection (CDOTDP). You will find more information on other new and changed courses in my (Dutch) blog NetApp cDOT 8.3: new features, courses and specializations.

What will be the impact of these changes on the certification program for NetApp partners?

For now these changes will have no impact on the certification program for NetApp partners. In one of my following blogs I will address the changes in the partner program that will be implemented after the summer.

Couldn’t find your question in this blog?

Do you have another question that you couldn’t find in the above? Let me know. I will be happy to help!

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NetApp cDOT 8.3: new features, courses and specializations

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

At the end of 2014 NetApp launched the new version of its operating system: clustered Data ONTAP 8.3, also known as cDOT 8.3. This version contains new features compared to 8.2. The arrival of these features has consequences for the NetApp courses, certifications and specializations.

In this blog post I will explain the most important new features of NetApp cDOT 8.3, which NetApp courses will change and which will stay the same.

What is different in NetApp cDOT 8.3 compared to NetApp cDOT 8.2?

NetApp cDOT 8.3 contains the following new features:

  • MetroCluster technology
  • IPspaces
  • Improvement in SnapMirror functionality
  • Advanced Drive Partitioning (ADP)

Which NetApp courses will change with the arrival of NetApp cDOT 8.3?

The course Clustered Data ONTAP 8.2 Administration (DCADM) will be replaced by the course Clustered Data ONTAP Administration and Data Protection (CDOTDP). The duration of the course remains unchanged: 5 days. The course is a preparation for the exam NSO-156 and will be available in March.
The other courses that will change with the arrival of NetApp cDOT 8.3 are the NFS and the CIFS courses: Data ONTAP NFS Administration and Data ONTAP SMB (CIFS) Administration. These changed courses will also be available in March.

Will the certification change? Will there be a new NetApp cDOT 8.3 exam?

Not in the very near future. The NS0-156 exam is still the exam that needs to be taken successfully to obtain the NCDA certification. It is however expected that a specific exam for NetApp cDOT 8.3 will be implemented this year.

Will the courses on Data ONTAP 7-Mode still exist?

Yes. There are after all still organizations that work with Data ONTAP 7-Mode.

Is there an update course available that will address the differences between NetApp cDOT 8.2 and NetApp cDOT 8.3?

Yes. Fast Lane will develop an update workshop. In this workshop the following subjects will be addressed:

  • Support for All-Flash FAS and new NetApp hardware platforms
  • MetroCluster technology
  • VM Granular Operation and Management
  • IPspaces
  • Datamotion for LUNs
  • Improvement in SnapMirror functionality
  • Automated Non-Disruptive Upgrade (NDU)
  • Increased Flash Pool cache size
  • Support for Microsoft Management Console (MMC)
  • Advanced Drive Partitioning (ADP)
  • System Setup 3.0
  • System Manager 8.3
  • 7-mode transition tools
  • SnapVault enhancements

What is the difference between Data ONTAP Cluster-Mode and clustered Data ONTAP?

There is none. Since version 8.2 of the operating system the product is called clustered Data ONTAP.

Are all NetApp courses available on the cDOT platform?

Almost. The course Administration of OnCommand Management Solutions (AOCMCDOT) for OnCommand is expected in March. This version is suitable for OnCommand on cDOT. The course has a duration of 2 days.

The cDOT specialization is added to the NetApp partner program. What does your organization need to do to obtain the NetApp cDOT specialization?

Within the cDOT specialization there are 3 distinctive roles: the role of sales professional, the role of SE specialist and the role of PS professional. Your organization needs to have an established amount of certified employees in its service:

  • 5 sales professionals
  • 2 SE specialisten
  • 2 PS professionals

These employees need to take the following courses and exams:

Sales professional

  • GetSuccessful cDOT Workshop (classical)

SE specialist

  • Clustered Data ONTAP Fundamentals (web based)
  • Clustered Data ONTAP 8.2 New Features (web based)
  • Technical Positioning or Clustered Data ONTAP 8.2 (web based)
  • What’s New in Data ONTAP 8.2 Licensing (web based)
  • Technical Overview or Licensing in Data ONTAP 8.2 (web based)
  • Data ONTAP License Key Replacement Scenarios (web based)
  • NetApp Transition Fundamentals (web based)
  • Technical Overview or OnCommand System Manager 3.1 (web based)
  • Technical Overview or OnCommand Unified Manager 5.x (web based)
  • Performance Analysis Fundamentals on Data ONTAP (web based)
  • Technical Overview of SnapVault on Clustered Data ONTAP (web based)
  • Clustered Data ONTAP Administration and Data Protection (classical)
  • NetApp Certified Data Management Administrator Clustered (exam)

PS professional

  • What’s New in Data ONTAP 8.2 Licensing (web based)
  • Technical Overview or Licensing in Data ONTAP (web based)
  • Data ONTAP License Key Replacement Scenarios (web based)
  • Technical Overview or OnCommand System Manager 3.1 (web based)
  • Clustered Data ONTAP Installation Workshop (classical)
  • NetApp Accredited Professional II (Clustered Data ONTAP) Assessment
  • Clustered Data ONTAP Administration and Data Protection (classical)
  • NetApp Certified Data Management Administrator Clustered (exam)

Besides taking courses and exams the NetApp partner 3 will provide client references and will perform the cDOT Demo Competency Assessment.

Can’t find your question?

Do you have another question that you can’t find in the above? Let me know. I will be glad to help!

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