The Case For A Network Management Certification
Many certifications have been developed by various software and hardware vendors targeted to just about every IT field, however, one discipline continues to be overlooked – network management.
The most popular networking certification track, the Cisco Certified Network Administrator (CCNA), covers building and setting up a network, but doesn’t address network management day-to-day requirements and responsibilities. If network management is your core discipline, is there a certification to validate those skills?
As the “Network” continues to experience exponential growth, managing and monitoring it is becoming more critical. The increases we’re seeing in bandwidth-hungry traffic like video and VoIP, in conjunction with the always connected expectation, puts a heavy burden on the network and creates a need to better manage the environment to ensure business traffic does not suffer. Add the network management industry’s push toward standardization and commoditization and we see products becoming cheaper and easier to use. This means some network engineers may not understand the complex technologies behind the scenes, but have the skills to use the tools to manage it. A certification in this space provides a way for professionals to demonstrate their conceptual knowledge of in-depth network management technologies as well as their ability to apply that knowledge in the corporate environment.
To fill this gap, SolarWinds developed a network management certification in 2009 called the SolarWinds Certified Professional (SCP), and it covers 5 critical aspects of network management. Prometric, an independent third party testing and assessment service, delivers the exam in its secure, proctored environments worldwide.
The program evaluates and certifies professionals on practical knowledge and real-world experience managing today’s complex business networks, as well as expertise with SolarWinds’ flagship offering, Orion Network Performance Monitor (NPM). The certification is comprised of 2/3 network management skills in four areas: network management fundamentals, network management planning, network management operations, and fault and performance troubleshooting , and one-third of the certification is dedicated specifically to SolarWinds’ Orion NPM.
The SCP program is designed to acknowledge professionals who have amassed years of hands-on, working knowledge of managing network environments – from understanding and using the various networking protocols to identifying the scope and source of fault and performance issues. Candidates should also have experience deploying and using Orion NPM on a corporate or government network, and additional industry-recognized certifications from networking hardware or software vendors is a plus.
“Managing today’s complex networks requires implementing both a network management system and a skilled workforce, and while some tools, like SolarWinds Orion Network Performance Monitor, are relatively easy to install and configure, the skill set to effectively implement them to their fullest is what separates the ‘good’ from the ‘great’ network engineers. The SCP credential provides a way for the ‘great’ network engineers to validate and market this advanced skill.” said Josh Stephens, VP and Head Geek, SolarWinds. “Enterprises are looking for people that have expertise in this area and the SCP certification is a great way for network engineers to improve their marketability and validate these skills.”
Depending on individual experience, candidates may require additional education to successfully pass the SCP exam. To support these candidates, SolarWinds launched a Learning Center on its website featuring an expanding set of video tutorials, recommended reading lists, and other resources offering supplemental knowledge of the exam’s content areas. SolarWinds also established a Certification Forum on its network engineer community, thwack.com, which gives users access to peer-support from other individuals who are studying for, or who have already passed, the SCP exam.
The process for becoming a SolarWinds Certified Professional is simple:
Step 1: Download the SCP prep guide from SolarWinds’ Website and begin studying
Step 2: Review the SCP study materials in the Learning Center
Step 3: Evaluate your readiness with sample questions in the prep guide
Step 4: Schedule the exam with a local Prometric testing center, SCP’s third-party testing proctor
After successfully passing the SCP exam, the individual will receive a welcome kit which includes a congratulations letter, a framed SolarWinds SCP certificate, and a virtual “Certified” badge attached to his/her thwack profile.
If the individual does not pass, a report indicating the pass rate of each section is provided. This enables candidates to identify which objective areas they should study before attempting a retake of the exam.
SolarWinds – www.solarwinds.com
SolarWinds Certified Professional page – www.solarwinds.com/certification/network_certification.aspx
SCP Learning Center – www.solarwinds.com/certification/learningcenter.aspx
thwack Certification Forum – http://thwack.com/forums/94.aspx
Thomas Hoyle is the Certification Manager at SolarWinds with over nine years of corporate Learning and Development experience leading global teams.