Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Top 10 Data Center Certifications

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Data centers are hiring in large numbers to keep pace with the growing demand for their services—but a foundational IT knowledge is insufficient if you want to work at the forefront of data center operations. Professional and advanced certifications can demonstrate your expertise and increase your value to employers. Some certifications are exam-only; others include training programs to prepare candidates for the tests. Whether offered by vendors, training providers, or professional organizations, the many available certifications offer data center professionals the chance to expand their knowledge and skills in a wide range of focus areas, from specific networking protocols to data center design to sustainability.

Here are our picks for the top 10 data center certifications for 2023.

Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)

This associate-level certification demonstrates a grasp of IT fundamentals, including basic data center networking, troubleshooting, addressing schemes, switch configurations, VLANs, Nexus OS, common network services, network and server virtualization, load balancing, storage, and network access controls. The CCNA focuses on agility and versatility, certifying management and optimization skills in advanced networks, and is considered an industry standard certification.

Participants must earn a passing score on Cisco exam No. 200-301, which tests their knowledge and their ability to install, operate, and troubleshoot an enterprise branch network.

Prerequisites

No prerequisites; Cisco’s Data Center Networking and Technologies course recommended

Validity

Three years

Accreditation

Cisco

Location

Classroom and online

Cost

Course Fee: $4,500; Exam Fee: $600

Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) 

This certification bestows the professional level of Cisco Career Certification upon those who successfully complete it. It specializes in the skills needed to implement effective solutions in enterprise-class data centers. Similar to the CCNA, the CCNP requires a passing score on an exam.

The Data Center exam tests the skills needed to run a data center effectively, including knowledge of the implementation of such core data center technologies as network, compute, storage network, automation, and security. A second exam lets participants specialize in a concentration of their choosing—candidates need to pass both exams to earn the certification.

Cisco Certified Network Professionals typically hold such roles as senior network designer, network administrator, senior data center engineer, and consulting systems engineer.

Prerequisites

No prerequisites; Recommended for people with three to five years of industry experience in security solutions

Validity

Three years

Accreditation

Cisco

Location

Classroom/e-learning/private

Cost

$300 per exam

VMware Certified Professional – Data Center Virtualization (VCP-DCV 2023)

VMware offers more than 16 data center certifications, including the VCP-DCV 2023, which bridges the gap between cloud management and classic data center networking. The VCP-DCV certification tests an individual’s knowledge of VMware’s vSphere solutions, including virtual machines, networking, and storage. Professionals seeking job roles including virtualization administrators, system engineers, and consultants should apply.

VMware also offers other advanced professional courses in virtualization design and deployment: VMware Certified Advanced Professional Data Center Virtualization Design (VCAP-DCV Design),  VMware Certified Advanced Professional Data Center Virtualization Deploy (VCAP-DCV Deploy) and VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX-DCV).

Prerequisites

Experience with vSphere 7.x or vSphere 8.x is recommended; Applicants with no prior VCP certifications must enroll in at least one training course

Validity

No expiration; recertification recommended to upgrade skills

Accreditation

VMware

Location

Online

Cost

$250

Juniper Networks Junos Associate (JNCIA-Junos)

The JNCIA-Junos certification is a beginner/intermediate course designed for networking professionals that validates their understanding of the core functionality of the Juniper Networks Junos operating system. It establishes a baseline for multiple certification tracks, including Juniper’s Enterprise Routing and Switching Certification Track and Service Provider Routing and Switching Certification Track.

Candidates can avail themselves of the resources on the Juniper Networks website and then sign up for the 90-minute, 65 multiple-choice question exam. Pass/fail status is shown directly after the exam, which certifies knowledge in data center deployment, implementation of multi-chassis link aggregation group (LAG), internet protocol (IP) fabric, virtual chassis, virtual extensible LANs (VXLANs), and data center interconnections.

Prerequisites

Juniper Networks Certified Specialist Enterprise Routing and Switching certification; Advanced Data Center Switching course recommended

Validity

Three years

Accreditation

Juniper Networks

Location

Online

Cost

$2,500-$4,750 depending on course location

Schneider Electric Data Center Certified Associate (DCCA)

This associate certification from Schneider Electric validates foundational knowledge of physical infrastructure in data centers and requires candidates to demonstrate proficiency in such aspects as cooling, power management, and physical security, among others.

Schneider offers multiple courses to prepare for the Data Center Certified Associate exam. Candidates may apply for examination after completion of the course. This certification is meant for professionals looking to work with designs or upgrades for the physical layer data centers and covers foundational knowledge of data center design, builds, and operations.

Prerequisites

None

Validity

Does not expire

Accreditation

Schneider Electric

Location

Online

Cost

$250

VCE Certified Professional

Converged infrastructure systems vendor VCE’s Certified Professional Program offers experienced IT professionals operating in converged infrastructure environments the opportunity to validate their domain-specific focus with cross-domain expertise.

Candidates begin with the Converged Infrastructure Associate credential and then choose one of two certification tracks. The Deploy track is intended for deployment and implementation professionals, while the Manage track is intended for administration and management professionals. The VCE program trains candidates in system concepts, security, administration, resource management, troubleshooting, and data center maintenance.

Prerequisites

VCE Certified Converged Infrastructure Associate (VCE-CIA) certification

Validity

Two years

Accreditation

VCE Plus

Location

Offline

Cost

$200

BICSI Registered Communications Distribution Designer (RCDD)

BICSI is a professional association supporting the advancement of information and communication technology professionals, and the RCDD is its flagship program. It trains participants in the design and implementation of telecommunications distribution systems as a part of an infrastructure development track. Being recognized as a BICSI RCDD bestows industry recognition and can accelerate career paths.

Eligible candidates must have two years of industry experience. The exam tests their knowledge of design, integration, implementation, project management, and building physical infrastructure for data centers.

Prerequisites

Two years of industry experience

Validity

Does not expire

Accreditation

BICSI

Location

Offline

Cost

$495

EPI Certified Data Centre Expert (CDCE)

EPI is a Europe-based, globally focused provider of data center infrastructure services. Its CDCE course trains and certifies IT managers and data center professionals in building and relocating critical infrastructures and data centers. The exam consists of two parts: a closed-book exam, and an open question exam in which candidates must answer 25 questions in 90 minutes.

Topics include choosing optimum centers, describing components, designing life cycle stages, business resilience, site selection, technical level design, reading electrical Single Line Diagrams (SLD), evaluating product datasheets, correlating equipment specifications, floor loading capacity, maintenance requirements, developing Individual Equipment Test (IET), and building checklists for critical data center facility.

Prerequisites

CDCS Certificate

Validity

Three years

Accreditation

EPI

Location

Online/Offline

Cost

Varies with service provider

CNet Certified Data Centre Sustainability Professional (CDCSP)

CNet’s CDCSP certification focuses on creating a credible sustainability strategy and business implementation plan for data centers. The program covers the evaluation, analysis, planning, implementation, and monitoring of sustainability initiatives, with considerations for operational capability and business needs.

It addresses power distribution, cooling systems, IT hardware, and operational risks, and emphasizes design innovation and continuous planning cycles. It also covers compliance with national and international regulations along with the importance of demonstrating ROI and capitalizing on business, customer, social, and environmental benefits.

Candidates will learn best sustainability practices, CSR in data centers, data center performance KPIs, understanding business needs, operational risks, creating sustainable ethos, sustainability use-cases, monitoring of power sources, infrastructure, cooling capabilities, sustainability improvements, and maintenance strategies, corporate sustainability, and planning.

Graduates are encouraged to pursue further certifications and qualifications through The Global Digital Infrastructure Education Framework for career advancement in the network infrastructure and data center sectors.

Prerequisites

Two years of work experience in centers as an operations manager, designer, or sustainability engineer

Validity

Does not expire

Accreditation

CNet

Location

Online/Offline

Cost

$6,990

CNet Certified Data Center Design Professional (CDCDP)

CNet’s CDCDP certification is a 20-hour intensive training program designed to help candidates understand sustainability and energy from a professional perspective. It provides comprehensive training on data center design to meet business needs efficiently and sustainably. Participants learn best practices, compliance, and access to industry standards, with opportunities for further career advancement through The Global Digital Infrastructure Education Framework.

By finishing the five-day program, candidates gain expertise in developing projects, identifying national and international standards, availability models, structural requirements, cabinet designing, power systems, regulations, connection topologies, compliance requirements, cable management, seismic stability considerations, estimating power requirements, revising psychrometric charts, bypass and recirculation, earthing, bonding, strategizing IT requirements, virtualization, optimal testing, regulating local codes, and cable protection.

Prerequisites

Two years data center experience

Validity

Does not expire

Accreditation

CNet

Location

Online

Cost

$5,750

Bottom Line: Data Center Certifications

Experts estimate that data centers need to hire more than 300,000 new staff members by 2025 in order to keep pace with the growing demand for services. They’re also facing pressure to become more sustainable and to continually boost security to ensure the safety of client data. There’s never been more opportunity for professionals seeking to work in this expanding field, and professional certifications can expand their knowledge, demonstrate their skills to employers, and provide areas of focus and specialized expertise.

Read next: 7 Data Management Trends: The Future of Data Management

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