In this installment of Cleared and Certified I would like to focus on storage certifications. Storage has always been a big part of the datacenter, and in today’s world there are many good storage solutions to choose from. Vendors such as Dell, EMC, NetApp, Hitachi and Pure Storage are expanding their market share every quarter. Each one of those vendors has their own certification roadmap, and they offer training to help you get certified. Along with vendor specific certifications, there are also vendor neutral certifications based on storage technologies. Here is a list of the best storage certifications; some that are vendor specific and some vendor neutral.

Vendor Specific storage certifications


It is hard to talk about storage without mentioning EMC; they have become a giant in the storage industry. The EMC Storage Administrator Track (EMCSA) includes associate, specialist and expert levels. Each certification level covers key technologies across all of EMC’s products such as Avamar, Clariion and VPLEX. EMC has positioned itself as an industry leader, and many organizations rely upon large deployments of their storage hardware. Becoming EMC certified should be on every datacenter administrator’s to-do list, as you will likely run into an EMC deployment in your career.


The NetApp Certified Data Administrator (NCDA) certification is absolutely one of the best. By becoming NCDA certified, you prove you have skills in the way of implementing, managing and maintaining NetApp controllers and associated disk shelves. This certification is not an entry level certification and it is not an expert level certification. This cert is best for mid-level administrators who want to grow in the storage field, specifically related to NetApp storage technologies. This exam suggests that you have a minimum of six to 12 months of field experience implementing and administering NetApp systems.

Pure Storage:

Customers who are utilizing Pure Storage in their datacenter would benefit from having their staff become certified. Pure Storage offers many certification options ranging from the Associate, Professional and Expert level. Technologies such as Pure’s FlashArray and FlashBlade solutions have become widely adopted in datacenters all over the world. Gaining a professional level certification such as Pure Storage’s FlashBlade Architect Professional helps to make you very marketable to companies that are utilizing Pure Storage.

Vendor Neutral Storage Certifications

Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) Storage Professional:

The SNIA Storage Networking Certified Professional is a vendor neutral storage certification that will demonstrate to your current or prospective employer that you are qualified for a job as a storage professional. The topics covered in the training and on the exam consist of identifying storage protocol concepts such as NAS and SAN. You will be tested on your ability to describe different RAID levels and disk technologies. Disaster recovery is also covered along with the different types of backup technologies.

Arcitura Certified Cloud Storage Specialist:

Founded in 2011, Arcitura has provided IT training and certifications on a vendor neutral basis. Their Certified Cloud Storage Specialist focuses on key aspects and technologies related to storage. Best practices, assessment criteria and storage components are covered in the training curriculum and will show up on the certification exam. Furthermore, the exam will cover topics such as file systems and volume management, HBA replication, I/O flow, NICs and storage switches. While this exam is based on cloud storage technologies, which are not fully adopted at this point, this certification is a good addition to any engineer’s resume.

Choose Wisely

There are so many storage related certifications, and these exams are not inexpensive. While some companies offer to pay for the training and certification exam, there are others that will not or cannot pay for it. Take the time to map out a plan for storage certifications that will best suit your current situation or the situation you want to be in. Give precedence to the certifications that are based on your current organization’s data center storage deployment. Secondly, go after a certification that you would like but do not support currently. It’s not a bad idea to keep building out your skill set even though you may not currently be supporting the technology. In the event you don’t know which route to go, start with the vendor neutral certifications and then specialize with the vendor specific certifications.

Whichever path you choose, obtaining a new certification never hurts: just make sure you have a plan, and choose wisely.

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Greg Stuart is the owner and editor of He's been a VMware vExpert every year since 2011. Greg enjoys spending time with his wife and 3 kids. He has 20 years of IT experience and currently works as an IT Consultant both in the private and public sector. Greg holds a BS in Information Technology and an MBA degree. He currently resides in Southeast Idaho. You can follow him on Twitter @vDestination, read his blog ( and listen to his podcast (