Training & Certifying Data Center Professionals - What are the Options?

During a conversation at one of the major data center conferences this year it struck me that there are a wide range of options available to data center managers when selecting development for some of their key assets - their staff!

When I asked the head of data centers at a well known company why they choose a specific vendors training for their staff it became evident that they weren't fully aware of the many training options available to them. It also made me think that I really didn't know all the options either!!!

To improve my understanding I started to try to put together my own overview of the various options available. I also wanted to understand in more detail the various qualifications members of this network often mention when writing their professional profiles.It is certainly an interesting area. It turns out theref is quite a wide choice covering data center design, operations, and management. From what I see so far there is no obvious leader in terms of industry acknowledged certifications.

 

So here is a summary of the options I could find for training and certifying data center personnel. These focus mainly on infrastructure type training covering design, implementation, operations and management of data centers.

 

I have also left out equipment specific training (HP, Oracle, etc) and the more generic/fundamental training such as ITIL or project management etc. These could be added to this list later if you think it's worth it.

 

 

Here goes (in vendor alphabetical order):

 

APC (Data Center University)

I initially excluded this since I thought their training was focused on APC products, but having re-read their literature a bit more thoroughly I've found they make explicit statements that their training and certification is product agnostic.

 

Their main certification is the 'Data Center University Associate' (DCU Associate) Certification. Their website explains this as an international, vendor-neutral credential that recognizes a professionals ability to participate on a team that designs, builds and operates a data center.

 

The Data Center University has developed 14 e-learning courses that cover all of the exam areas including: power, cooling, racks, cabling, fire protection, security, and management. These online courses are free! You simply go to the site and register, then proceed with the courses at your own speed. I've only had a brief look through, but it seems that most of courses take less than an hour to complete. There is also a set of 'knowledge checkpoints' (various quizzes) that you can use to test your knowledge once you complete each course.

The online system also mentions that some of the courses are eligible for professional development units (CECs etc), although I didn't see any specific values mentioned.

 

Note you should use Internet Explorer 6.0 or higher, or FireFox 3.0 or higher when accessing the online system.

 

BICSI

BICSI are a well know international organisation who run several certifications that members of our network often quote - such as RCDD, NTS, OSP. The RCDD qualification is perhaps the most common one that data center professionals take. But the others seem equally applicable. BICSI have a list of approved training providers who are able to provide the training and do the exams.

BICSI run many courses and certifications, but main courses they run which seem applicable to DCpros seem to be:

  • Registered Communications Distribution Designer (RCDD)
  • Registered Information Technology Professional (RITP)
  • Network Transport Systems (NTS) Specialist
  • Outside Plant (OSP) Specialist

They also offer a 3 day 'Data Center Design Best Practices' course - but so far these doesn't seem to offer a certification with it.

 

CNET Training

Cnet are focussed on network infrastructure training but have added the data centre training programs. They also offer some of the BISCI training certifications such as RCDD. The three main qualifications CNET offer are:

  • Certified Data Centre Design Professional (CDCDP)
  • Certified Data Centre Management Professional (CDCMP)
  • Certified Data Centre Technician (CDCT)

The CDCDP and CDCMP training is broken down into various sub-courses. It seems that only CDCDP has certification from Btec. Btec is not focussed on IT/Data centres but does certification for anything such as schools, hairdressers and other disciplines. All other courses don't seem to have Btec certification so the exams and certificates are issued by Cnet themselves which is little value as there is no impartiality.

 

Data Center Dynamics

DCD is an organiser of data center conferences. They have added data centre training to their portfolio are sold under the name  "DC-Professional". There are three main courses listed

  • Data Centre Design Awareness
  • Advanced Data Center Power and Cooling course
  • Data Center Efficiency & Best Practice course

No official accreditation. Exams, marking and certificate is all done by DC-Professional hence, no impartiality.

 

EPI

EPI is a specialized data centre company that do data center audits, certifications, consultancy and training. They were the first in the market to offer data centre training courses and they are by far the largest global data centre training provider in the market today. They have a wide variety of training programs covering three disciplines;

- Data Centre Facility Design & Build

- Data Centre Operations & Governance

- Data Centre Compliance & Standards

Their Framework is listed on the website;  Click here to see the EPI data centre training framework

The Facility Design & Build track consists out of:

  • Certified Data Center Professional (CDCP)
  • Certified Data Center Specialist (CDCS)
  • Certified Data Center Expert (CDCE)

The Facility  Operations and Governance track consists out of:

  • Certified Data Center Facilities Operations Manager (CDFOM)
  • Certified Data Center Risk Professional (CDRP)
  • Certified Data Center Migration Specialist (CDMS)

The Standards and Compliance track consists out of:

  • Certified TIA-942 Design Consultant
  • Certified TIA-942 Internal Auditor
  • Certified TIA-942 External Auditor

All the courses are accredited by EXIN who also is the examination body. EXIN also providers accreditation and examination for Microsoft, ITIL and other programs.   Exams can be taken via paper, web based or via remote proctoring allowing exams to be taken from home but with remote supervision (cool technology).

 

IDCP (Marist College)

The Marist College runs the Institute for Data Center Professionals training program. This is consists of online training covering modules in facilities, networking, security, systems & software, operations & process, and product development & financial planning. If a student completes all of the above modules they are awarded the IDCP's Certified Data Center Professional (CDCP) certification.

 

Its not known if any of the these modules count towards any CECs.

 

U.S. Dept of Energy (DCEP Qualification)

DOE is partnering with industry to develop a Data Center Energy Practitioner (DCEP) program to accelerate energy savings in the dynamic and energy-intensive marketplace of data centers. The DCEP program is being defined, designed, and implemented by working closely with industry stakeholders. DOE has set a goal to have at least 200 practitioners by 2011.

 

There will be two grades of DCEP:

  • Level 1 DCEP
  • Level 2 DCEP

The level 1 practitioner does not need to pass an exam and there is no strict eligibility requirements, whereas the Level 2 practitioner does need to pass an exam and also need to meet certain eligibility requirements. Re-certification will be required within 3 years.

 

Its not known if any of the these courses count towards any CECs.

 

U.S. Green Building Council (LEED Qualification)

The U.S. Green Building Council run the ''Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design" (LEED) qualification.

The LEED AP (Accredited Professional) credential was established in 2001 and in 2009 they introduced LEED specialties such as LEED Building Design & Construction (BD+C), LEED Interior Design & Construction (ID+C), etc. There is also a the LEED Green Associate (GA) level which is intended for professionals who want to demonstrate green building expertise in non-technical fields of practice. The 'LEED AP' is the one most quoted by data center professionals.

 

Uptime Institute

The Uptime Institute are well known for their Tier classifications. They have also introduced a training & certification program designed for data center design professionals to enhance their understanding of the practical application of the Tiers, including misconceptions and common misapplications. The training is therefore not really explaining how to design and operate a data centre but more an explanation about the Tier guidelines.  This certification is called the ''Accredited Tier Specialist" (ATS) and  ''Accredited Tier Designer'' (ATD). Don't be misled though, he ATD is not accredited to sign off on designs as that can only be done by Uptime.

 

Its not known if any of the these modules count towards any CECs.

 

Other (Relevant) Training Providers

Besides the above 'equipment' neutral training providers, there is also a number of vendor specific courses. These may be worth checking out to see if they offer any 'independent' training:

 

Cisco

HP  (HP also resells the EPI Data Centre courses)

Red Hat

Oracle

....and there are many more besides!

 

Summary

The good news is that there is a wide range of training available from a wide range of suppliers, and there are options for both online and classroom based training.

To select the right program we would suggest to look at the focus of the company to ensure they are in the data centre industry, that they have an independent accreditation and examination to ensure impartiality of the examination process, their global reach and acceptance in the market.

 

If you a data center manager planning training for your team hopefully this information will help give you some pointers to get you started in assessing how much of an investment in time and money you will need to make.

 

Besides the training costs, travel & accommodation, you will need to take into account the exam preparation and costs. Then there are the ongoing continuous education requirements, costs and time, in order to keep your certifications current. However, keeping certifications current is an essential part of any training program.

  

We'll try to keep this information up to date with regular reviews - so please check back for updates.

 

Obviously if there are glaring omissions or errors please comment on this blog or email me at NetworkManager@DataCenterProfessionals.Net and I'll update things asap.

 

If you find this post useful please share it with your colleagues and friends in the industry.

 

Best Regards,

 

The Data Center Professionals Network

 

 

 

 

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Comment by jan willem mooren on May 27, 2011 at 11:40

EPI data centre courses are vendor neutral oriented and are accredited and endorsed by EXIN, The ICOR and BICSI. Currently available CDCP (Certified Data Centre Professional), CDCS (Certified Data Centre Specialist) and CDCE (Certified Data Centre Expert). In order to attend CDCS the candidate must hold a valid CDCP certification in good standing, for attending CDCE the candidate must hold a valid CDCS certification in good standing. Certification is valid for three years whereas the highest level supersedes.

 

Additional courses, CDFOM (Certified Data Centre Facilities Operations Manager) and CITM (Certified Information Technology Manager). CDFOM focuses on the operational aspect of the data centre whereas CITM focuses on the managerial part of an IT organization, emphasizing on both IT infrastructures and the data centre. CITM is a non-technical course exposing candidates to topics such as risk, security, financials, human resource management and a few more. 

 

Certification for all courses is valid for three years after which the candidate needs to re-certify.

 

Comment by Robert Doherty on December 16, 2010 at 20:00
Great job in this - thanks.
I believe the DOE DCEP certification level 1 (generalist) is tested and is renewable every 2 years (I just completed the pilot program) - Level 2 specialist (HVAC) is tested and renewable every 2-years and there is another specialist program being developed which is expected in later in 2011 or 2012 for Electrical. There were and will continue to be pre-qualifications to get into these programs.
Comment by DCPNet Admin on December 16, 2010 at 8:06

Thanks for your emails and comments so far.  I'll update the article & spreadsheet in due course.

 

Ken

Comment by Grant Sauls on December 15, 2010 at 8:36

This blog is excellent. I done many of the courses listed here which is good to know.

 

The Cisco stuff is also very good especially DC SAN and DC Application Services.

 

Again, Excellent Blog.

 

Comment by Greg Phillips on December 15, 2010 at 1:13

I think the "generic" stuff you have listed is quite good however, IMHO I think that the Cisco CCIE "route switch", "SAN", and soon to be released "Data Center" and Brocade's BCNE are still the most advantageous.  I realize this is subject to argumentation but as such is my *personal* observation as being the Principal Systems Architect for a *huge* enterprise data center.  The BICSI stuff is good however, that is of more relevance to the cable implementation teams not to be confused with the higher level LAN/WAN and SAN architecture teams whereby Layer-2 and 3 concepts are more important.  This *again* is just my humble oberservations wrt this topic ;-)

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