With the growth of software comes a greater degree of interest in technical certifications. Configuring and managing an enterprise SAN is a very different skill set than switching tapes or adding disks to a server. A true storage professional is emerging and commanding higher salaries commensurate with his or her experience and certifications. A recent study by RoperNOP Technology on certifications placed IBM and CA storage certifications among those solution providers will be pursuing in 2002. Software vendors such as VERITAS have struck relationships with large and small solution providers to create a market for professionals authorized to consult and deliver services around their offerings.
Both demand from end users for competent technical staff and profit motive from value-added services are driving solution providers to invest in certification. With the deployment of enterprise software, design, project management, implementation services and training become an important piece of the overall solution. Just as end users looked for certified SAP and Seibel consultants to deploy mission-critical applications, so too will they look for firms with a depth of certification in storage management applications. "Storage software certifications are absolutely critical to our business," according to John Verdonik, director of professional services at Minn.-based CNT. "Customers are demanding them, and certifications open the door to partnering with vendors on large-scale integration projects."
In addition to professional services, the opportunity exists for solution providers to deliver training directly to end users on storage management software. Minn.-based storage solution provider, Datalink, furnishes training for storage management solutions from Veritas and Legato. Offering training provides solution providers with not only a revenue stream, but an edge in the market in competing with other firms. "We view our ability to provide training as a key differentiator in a growing market for storage solutions," according to Paul Mayer, product manager for data protection software at Datalink. "We are one of a few solution providers in the country with this capability, and we believe it provides us a competitive advantage."
As the storage market continues to grow and as the challenges become more complex, we are likely to see certification become more and more critical as both a competitive differentiator and as a driver of revenue for solution providers.
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