Cisco’s CCIE meets storage

Cisco Systems Inc. has extended its Cisco Certified Internetwork Engineer (CCIE) certification to include a designation in storage networking, a move that one analyst believes will help network pros keep up with the company’s increasingly prevalent storage gear.

“Storage consists of not just attaching some Network Attached Storage (NAS) or Storage Area Networking (SAN) devices, but also managing the storage and the applications on the network,” said Mike Quinn, vice-president of customer advocacy for Cisco. “Having a certification means that you have professionals who can come into your network and provide an industry-certified level of confidence and competence.”

He added that the certification would also be a great value-add to any storage professional’s qualifications and allow them to command higher salaries.

The CCIE has been around for more than 10 years. The storage certification joins other CCIEs such as routing and switching, security and voice.

There are currently only 11,000 people worldwide who hold the certification.

Nancy Hurley, senior consultant with Milford, Mass.-based Enterprise Strategy Group, said Cisco extending their CCIE to include storage is a smart move.

“Storage has been a hot market from a network administration [point of view] for the past four or five years. Yet there are few folks who are trained in storage networking. Cisco is doing a good job of creating demand for their storage switches, but they need to make sure storage professionals can support the products. I see the CCIE certification as a very positive move in that direction,” Hurley stated in an e-mail interview.

She also pointed out how explosively this industry has grown over the years. She said that four years ago only 10 per cent of available storage was networked, whereas today it is at 75 per cent, thus creating high demand for storage network professionals.

“Today, storage area networking is managing storage on a global basis,” Quinn added to Hurley’s point. Currently, Quinn said there are approximately 50 people internally at Cisco interested in taking the written exam for storage networking certification which was available as of Nov. 18 at a cost of US$300.

The lab exam, at a cost of US$1,250, is expected to be available in the first quarter of 2005 initially at Cisco offices in San Jose, Research Triangle Park, N.C. and Brussels, Belgium. Candidates should have three to five years of hands-on experience before attempting the exams. The written exam is a two-hour, multiple-choice test while the lab portion is eight hours in length and will test candidates on a series of tasks such as multi-layer fabric switching. Quinn forecasts that there will be about a six-month waiting period for those wanting to take both exams.

To illustrate how difficult it is to get a CCIE certification, Quinn said that the written exam has a 40 per cent pass rate while only 30 per cent successfully complete the lab portion.

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