As data centers continue to change at rapid-fire speed, the need for highly skilled data center professionals has become increasingly important to maintain an organization’s efficiency, fluidity and success.
The Association for Data Center Management’s 2015 State-of-the-Data Center Survey found that certifications are critical when it comes to the skills needed in data center hires. Through the survey, AFCOM, which focuses on career advancement for data center professionals, found the need for data center–related certifications was particularly high in data center operations roles, including facilities management, data and network security, and network engineering, among others.
Whether you’re a data center professional looking to further your career or a data center hiring manager seeking new talent, analysts and industry experts say the following five hot data center certifications should top your list of must-have qualifications.
“One of the top concerns for CIOs today is security, specifically cybersecurity,” says Mark Bowker, senior analyst for Enterprise Strategy Group. Bowker says the Cisco Cyber Security Specialist Certification is valuable because it focuses on providing the skills and knowledge needed to detect and diminish security threats using popular network security products.
“For a data center operations person with some networking background and existing Cisco certifications, the Cisco Cyber Security Specialist certification is a big deal for your career,” he says.
Schneider Electric’s Data Center Certified Associate (DCCA) certification tops Kevin Donovan’s list of must-have certifications for IT professionals. As data center manager for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Research Support Facility, Donovan is focused on the facilities aspect of data center management.
“As we try to be more energy-efficient, a lot of the focus is on managing the energy in our facility — power is dollars,” says Donovan. He explains that the DCCA certification provides a baseline knowledge of power management and cooling, starting with the basics of managing a facility and moving to slightly advanced topics. “If I were hiring someone to assist me, I would want them to have that certification,” he says
When it comes to working with virtualized infrastructures and cloud environments, EMC Education’s Data Center Architect certification is a solid choice, says Charles King, president and principal analyst at Pund-IT. Designed to help IT professionals build the architectural design skills necessary to work with virtualized infrastructures and cloud environments, this certification is valid in various vendor environments and always in demand.
According to Bowker, mobility is another issue that ranks high among the concerns of CIOs. He says businesses are looking to improve employee productivity, collaboration, communication, and fulfill requests to work on multiple devices on corporate and public networks.
“But mobility experts are really hard to come by because, in a lot of cases, businesses are addressing these things for the first time,” he explains. “Hiring is tough because there aren’t a lot of them.”
For data center professionals with an interest in mobility, Bowker says the VCP6-DCV certification is a clear choice. IT professionals learn to install, manage and administer a virtualized data center — all highly sought-after skills in the data center arena.
King says Cisco's Certified Network Professional (CCNP) data center professional credential is widely recognized and high on the list of desirable certifications. “There’s an old saying, ‘No one was ever fired for choosing IBM,’ that can be applied to Cisco today,” says King. This is especially true of the CCNP certification, which is designed to support data center professionals who want to save time and money on equipment design, installation and maintenance.
When it comes to having the right skills to succeed in the ever-changing data center environment, any of these certifications will help IT professionals further their careers — and help IT managers find the right people to support their organizations.