The 10 Best Data Center Education and Certification Opportunities
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Join the ranks of the successful information technology professional who has tossed aside his college diploma for a real education. Gain practical experience from industry professionals who have traversed the trenches and came out smelling like money. Data centers with their power grids, cooling towers, racks, raised floors and bone-chilling temperatures beckon for new blood -- yours. Experienced and educated data center designers, managers and facilities personnel have jobs waiting for them. Here are 10 opportunities for you to learn and earn like a professional.
1. CiscoIt's time to trade-in your sheepskin for a practical education -- and a paycheck. Learn which certs will give you the best return on your investment.
Cisco offers more than routers, load balancers and switches; it also has an extensive education program covering its famous Cisco operating system (IOS) and data center technologies. Its bent is toward the networking side of the house, but, once earned, you can proudly display your Cisco certifications next to your college diploma. Especially intriguing is the Cisco Data Center Unified Computing Design Specialist track that requires a VMware certification as a prerequisite.
HP is a long-time training vendor, and it has expanded its portfolio to include all facets of data center operations, data center management, applications, technology infrastructure and facilities. A few months spent in an HP data center technology training program will likely have you earning more than any of your college fraternity brothers. Prepare for full immersion in HP technology, but your education will easily transfer to other product lines.
3. Marist College
Marist College's Institute for Data Center Professionals is 100-percent online, up-to-date and relevant to learning current dynamic data center requirements. Its data center training faculty consists of industry professionals who offer a broad view of the practical and contemporary problems and solutions that face data center managers and staff. Founded in 2004, Marist's Institute for Data Center Professionals has backing from the National Science Foundation.
4. Data Center University
Data Center University comes to you from the people who bring you uninterruptible power from the desktop to the data center, American Power Conversion (APC). It delivers an extreme list of courses pulled directly from the daily operations manual, if one exists, of real data centers. The power distribution and power requirements courses are of particular interest in these days of ever-shrinking resources.
5. Data Center Tech Media (DCTM)
Better known in the data center trenches of the Pacific Rim, DCTM offers one of the world's better known data center certifications: The Certified Data Centre Design Professional -- CDCDP. Those who want to manage or assist in data center management from a design and operations perspective will attend courses in power, cooling, efficiency, management and Design.
6. PTS Data Center Solutions
Who better to offer training than the people who build and maintain data centers? Design, training and consulting from the guys who know the business from the slab to the light fixtures. They offer onsite specialized and custom training. You can add in a one-day data center assessment for a mere $5,000.
7. Red Hat
Yes, it's that Red Hat, the Linux people offering the Red Hat Certified Datacenter Specialist training. You must hold the Red Had Certified Engineer (RHCE) credential before you can enroll. The program covers Red Hat's virtualization solutions, storage and directory services.
In EMC's courses you learn about storage, virtualization and architecture all based on EMC's technologies. No surprise there. It might surprise you to know, however, that every data center in the world uses EMC's products. They might use VMware, a SAN, EMC's other software and hardware solutions or a combination but as an EMC Proven Professional, you'll walk into any data center with the right knowledge to manage those systems from day one. EMC offers certifications for all levels from System Administrator to Architect.
NetApp University provides certification courses on its specific products and solutions. The value of any vendor certification depends on the popularity of its product. Where haven't you seen NetApp products? You see them in small businesses up to the largest enterprises. NetApp solutions are here to stay, and the certifications are worth their weight in real paychecks.
10. Traditional Colleges and Universities
Vocational schools, community colleges and universities all have information technology courses you can take. Some are quite good, but your best bet for learning opportunities at this level is to seek out references from those who have taken the classes and to check out the faculty for yourself. Time and money spent on 10-year-old technology and education could buy you some worthwhile online courses from one of the other nine possibilities listed here.
Ken Hess is a freelance writer who writes on a variety of open source topics including Linux, databases, and virtualization. He is also the coauthor of Practical Virtualization Solutions, which was published in October 2009. You may reach him through his web site at http://www.kenhess.com.
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