IT Career JumpStart

Sep 28 2012   7:42PM GMT

A Tale of Two Entry-Level, Vendor-Neutral Storage Certs

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

I was flipping through Anne Martinez’ latest Certification Watch newsletter (Volume 15 #8) earlier this week, and read with some interest that Hitachi Data Systems — a well-known vendor of storage systems, software, and services — has launched a new certification program in the area of storage. What I found interesting was that this new credential, based on the Hitachi Data systems Storage Technology Exam (HH0-050) is explicitly positioned as vendor neutral, with an emphasis on “storage technology and concepts,” in the opening words of its blurb.

Banner from HDS home page for HH0-050 exam.

Banner from HDS home page for HH0-050 exam.

“Hmmm!” I though to myself, “Isn’t this the rightful niche for the CompTIA Storage+ (Powered by SNIA) exam?” And indeed, SNIA (the Storage Networking Industry Association) itself quit offering its own entry-level storage exam known as SNIA Foundations when it got in bed with CompTIA to launch the Storage+ exam on January 18, 2012. Even more interesting, HDS is listed as one of 17 large-scale voting members of SNIA, right on the front page of its Member Directory.

So I did what any curious certification geek would do:  I compared the various basic statistics and published characteristics for these two exams:

Storage+ vs. HDS HH0-050
Exam Storage+ HH0-050
Duration 90 min 60/90 min+
Cost $246* $125
Question count 100 50
Topic domains 5 8
* Discounts for CompTIA member companies do apply
+ Non-native English speakers get 30 extra minutes for the test

I have to speculate that Hitachi may not have been entirely happy with the uptake and popularity of the Storage+ exam, especially outside CompTIA’s core markets in North America and Europe. By reducing the number of questions from 100 to 50, cutting the price almost in half from $246 to 125 (candidates who work for CompTIA member companies do get about a 10% discount, however), and increasing the time from 60 to 90 minutes for those candidates who speak English as a second language, I see Hitachi making direct moves to appeal to a broader, less well-heeled audience outside the first world.

Even in the first world, many candidates interested in storage might find the HH0-050 exam appealing because of its lower cost and shorter duration. From what I can see from its objectives and coverage, the Hitachi exam compares favorably with Storage+ in topics, scope, and content. It might make an even better first step for IT professionals interested in learning more about storage, but anyone who takes either exam should remain aware that both are entry level credentials unlikely to lead directly to a new job or a promotion in and of themselves. By design, both of these exams are stepping stones into more advanced and platform-focused credentials from major storage vendors, or more advanced elements in SNIA’s ongoing vendor-neutral certification track.

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