Storage specialists

Certification is one of the more controversial subjects in IT today. Those who like them say they promote a basic set of skills on a certain subject and verify the person is proficient in that area. Others say they're just glorified merit badges, with many having the paper "expertise," but not the real-life skills to back it up.

Up until now, certifications getting the most attention - and press - were usually associated with Cisco and Microsoft. However the emergence of storage certifications underpins the growth and importance of storage in many of today's enterprises.

What can storage certifications do for your company and your employees?

* Reclaim valuable storage space. 21st Century Insurance in Woodland Hills, Calif., sent one of its employees to earn a storage certification. The education paid off, as the employee soon freed-up 1.5 terabytes of misallocated storage within the first six months after training. The employee also assisted in redesigning the company's storage-area network (SAN) for better utilization.

* Stay independent. Another certification benefit for 21st Century Insurance was its ability to be vendor-independent. By educating employees independent of vendors, via groups such as the Storage Networking Industry Association, the company doesn't have to rely on vendors for information, trends or education.

* Save money. SANs can quickly grow large and out of control, requiring expensive hardware and software. 21st Century Insurance was able to make its SAN as cost-effective as possible through the knowledge gained by its storage-certified employee.

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