Today I passed the SNIA Certified Storage Professional examination S10-101. I had studied a bit for it, but I leveraged a lot of what I had learned when preparing for my CCIE Storage as well as real world experience. The SNIA has an interesting program. There certifications are vendor agnostic, so they talk more general about storage technologies and can get a bit conceptual as well. They actually work hard on developing new storage technologies as well as working with manufacturers to ensure standards based compatibility. One thing I can tell you is that the SNIA is very progressive. The material that I studied, much of which was written by SNIA members, was pretty up to date. Things like FANs (File Area Networks), WAFS, block virtualization, etc were all topics and in some of these areas the industry is just starting to really get cooking. All of the material for this certification is very relevant to EMC, NetApp, HDS and just about any other storage vendor. A lot of the stuff you learn from the vendors is very much spun to include a lot of their marketecture, and you have to read into it to understand some of the similarities (Each vendor always acts like what they are doing is very revolutionary, but seldom is that the case). For example NetApp RAID-DP vs. what is really known as RAID6……how RAID6 is implemented internally is not really a standard, it can and likely will be proprietary, but it’s still RAID 6 :).
You have to know your stuff pretty good and I would say that the SNIA tests definitely are looking for real world experience. If you just read books and never got your hands dirty in real production networks or at the very least a lot of time actually working with the equipment in the lab, reading blogs, staying up to date on technologies, you may not fare well for the SNIA. There is no SNIA study guide either, although they do offer some recommended reading lists and they have instructor led training as well as e-courses you can take. I did neither. I did however read a lot of stuff on their web site www.snia.org. Which by the way is excellent. I particularly like their tutorials which they archive each year so you can read.
The training I did with EMC ISM definitely helped with this exam. I would say EMC does a great job of delivering education and at the same time they did a great job with the ISM course in keeping it vendor agnostic. The ISM course is actually taught in several universities, so it tries to be agnostic, but at the same time does pepper things with EMC examples. The ISM alone is not enough to get through SNIA training, you basically need to look at the SCSP Exam Blueprint and make sure you know everything they outline well. It can look like a lot to know and it is but its good learning that you can put to use in your storage networking career. HDS actually requires SNIA certification for many of their own certification tracks. The SNIA has four levels of certification: Professional, Engineer, Architect and Expert. I do plan to do all of these. In fact I have studied and am likely just about ready to take my SCSE (Engineer) certification and will post an update on that once I complete it.