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5 keys to leveraging certification

August 2012

Hint: First, embrace the cloud.

Making the right decisions about professional certification is important. The education and training leading up to that certificate represent a substantial investment in time and money. And in an era when some certifications are losing their value [1], you can’t afford to be wrong. For the IT professional, here’s how to make sure you’re on the right track, certification-wise:

1. Look to the clouds
Start by looking at where the IT industry is going, not where it’s been. These days, IT decision makers are embracing cloud computing and converged infrastructure. Take that as a sign to focus on these technologies.

2. Move up the food chain
The value of individual certifications in networking, servers, and storage is falling because these are viewed as “silo skills” that are narrow and too focused on one area. Increasingly, employers are much more enthusiastic about broader skill sets and certifications that subsume multiple disciplines under a single umbrella—such as, yes, cloud computing. They also want the individual to show up for work not just with technical expertise, but also business acumen. They want someone who can help affect their bottom line—in the right way.

3. Embrace rigor
You don’t want to just buy a certificate. Sure, there are quickie courses that you cram for in a few days, and “dump sites” that accumulate old tests—but you’re much better off investing the time it takes to really learn the material. Because, in the world of work, you won’t be able to complain that what you’re asked to do “wasn’t on the exam.” Quality certification programs will offer plenty of the right avenues for learning: classroom instruction; live, non-simulated lab usage; online lectures; and self-study. Use the methods that work best for you to acquire the necessary skills.

4. Get real-world experience
Managers are hesitant to hire a certificate holder with no practical knowledge, and they are putting an increasing emphasis on proof of hands-on experience. If you already have that experience, congratulations. But if you’re just starting out, or you’re using certification to change career tracks, you’ll want to make sure you have access to classrooms with live lab gear, not just aids such as simulators. One invaluable learning tool that you’ll find in top-drawer programs like HP ExpertOne is a complete online data center; it’s staffed by IT administrators, and you can access it via the Internet in real time, for training or proof-of-concept applications.

5. Jump onto the fast track
Don’t shortchange the certificates you have now. You’ve worked hard to acquire them, and they’re still quite valuable. But instead of continuing in a siloed field, think about using your previous training as a springboard to a more strategic career path. Considering that more strategic cloud solutions look to a converged infrastructure foundation for optimum IT resource utilization, being able to address any part of the infrastructure puzzle—servers, storage, networking, or management software—helps you to more easily advance to cloud computing.

Bonus: See what’s possible
To see what’s possible, examine the portfolio of new HP ExpertOne converged infrastructure and cloud certifications. These curriculums will help you learn to corral all aspects of the converged infrastructure and cloud technologies that are on any CIO’s wish list: multiple hypervisors; using third-party applications as cloud services; unifying IT resources across servers, storage, and networking; and a lot more. HP ExpertOne deserves a close look if you’re serious about self-improvement and growing your career.

For more information
HP ExpertOne website
Ask these 5 questions to see if your network provider is highly skilled
 
[1] “Do IT Certifications Still Matter?” by Ericka Chickowski, Channel Insider, 6/3/2011

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