Different Data Center Professional Certifications Explained
March 16, 2018

Certifications are one of most rewarding ways for a data center professional to stand out from the crowd. Completing a data center certification will help you gain knowledge, learn new skills, and prove to yourself and your colleagues that you have valuable expertise.

However, contrary to popular belief, data center certifications don’t benefit just the individuals who complete them. Among IT leaders, 68 percent do not believe they have the skills in-house required to address their needs. Data center managers and technology leaders who struggle to find and retain talent can bridge the IT skills gap by recommending certifications to team members or making a specific credential a data center job requirement.

Regardless why you might want to consider a data center certification, understanding the different types of data center credentials and training courses is a good way to familiarize yourself with available options and give yourself a better chance to select the one that best meets your needs.

How Data Center Certifications Are Categorized

At first glance, the sheer number of data center certifications and training courses can seem overwhelming.  What approach should you take to your data center certification to ensure that you select the right one? As you research which certification is right for you, you’ll find that data center education and credentials can be organized across multiple categories to simplify the evaluation process:

  • Vendor/organization: These are offered by a vendor (such as Cisco or Dell) or an industry organization (such as BICSI or Uptime Institute). For these certifications, the organization’s name and certification title are paramount.
  • Product: These are typically offered by a vendor for that vendor’s specific product or solution. These certifications can be useful if you are currently using or plan to implement the product in your data center. For some organizations, the version of the product covered in the certification is less important than the product itself.
  • Competency or skill: The skillsets covered by data center certifications has increased significantly in recent years. While you can expect to see topics such as networking, infrastructure, and design from most traditional data center certifications, virtualization, security, and other subjects driven by recent technology trends are becoming more prevalent.   
  • Proficiency level: Several certifications are available for entry- or associate-level data center professionals. For more senior or experienced individuals, advanced courses may be at a more appropriate level of knowledge. However, these advanced certifications typically require prerequisites, such as earlier coursework, demonstrable knowledge, or years of experience in data centers or a related field.
  • University-level courses and degrees: Bachelor- and Master-level training courses that are offered by accredited institutions. These are typically aimed at individuals looking to get started in the data center industry or those who have experience in some aspect of data centers and are willing to make a significant time and money investment to further their careers.

Once you have an idea of which type or category of data center certification you want to pursue, you can evaluate the available options and select the credential that best suits your needs.

Popular Data Center Certifications

The list of data center certifications below provides a sampling of some of the most popular training courses available for modern data center professionals looking to get started in the data center industry or advance their careers by learning a trending skill:

Data Center Design Consultant (DCDC)
Vendor/Product: BICSI
Competency/Skill: Design

Data centers are becoming increasingly complex not only to manage but also to design. Modern data centers are taking advantage of innovations in cooling, power, and other systems to make facilities more efficient. The Data Center Design Consultant certification offered by BICSI fits perfectly with this trend by providing anyone involved in planning, implementation, and critical decision making with advanced knowledge and expertise.

Registered Communications Distribution Designer (RCDD)
Vendor/Product: BICSI
Competency/Skill: Design

Like the DCDC, the Registered Communications Distribution Designer (RCDD) certification is focused on design. However, this credential is specific to telecommunications and data communications technology and related infrastructure for building design. Expertise in these areas is becoming more critical for data center design and infrastructure as new facilities, ranging from new enterprise data centers to edge sites, are built.

CCNA Data Center Certification
Vendor/Product: Cisco
Competency/Skill: General Knowledge, Network

Managing data center network connectivity and understanding how the assets in your data center are connected are important for maintaining uptime and planning capacity. For anyone new to data centers or looking for networking knowledge, specifically of Cisco networks and infrastructure, the CCNA Data Center certification can be a great place to start. This training course covers a wide range of information, including data center infrastructure, data center networking concepts and technologies, network virtualization, and Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI).

CCNA Security
Vendor/Product: Cisco
Competency/Skill: Security, Network

With the increasing focus on cybersecurity and safeguarding your data center, a security certification can have a tremendous impact on both your career and the security of your facility. A certification like the Cisco Certified Network Associate Security (CCNA Security), which ensures that you’re able to identify and mitigate potential threats to your Cisco networks and devices, can be helpful for those looking to improve their knowledge of the technologies and data center monitoring tools needed to maintain network availability and security.

Accredited Tier Specialist (ATS)
Vendor/Product: Uptime Institute
Competency/Skill: Management

While Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) and other data center software solutions are valuable for operating modern data center environments, having the appropriate knowledge and skills is also important. The Uptime Institute’s Accredited Tier Specialist is designed for data center managers and operators looking to apply Tier Standards in their own organizations. With this credential, you’ll learn how to ensure that the design and operation of critical facilities meet the needs of the business. Additionally, you’ll expand your skillset to better communicate with upper management and influence capital expenditures.

VMware Certified Professional 6.5 - Data Center Virtualization (VCP6.5-DCV)
Vendor/Product: VMware
Competency/Skill: Virtualization

With more organizations looking to reduce their data center footprints and optimize data center capacity, virtual environments are becoming more popular in modern data centers. An industry-recognized certification in data center virtualization, like this one offered by VMware, validates your skills in designing, implementing, and managing virtual environments. The VMware Certified Professional 6.5 - Data Center Virtualization certification confirms that you know how to implement, manage, and troubleshoot a vSphere V6.5 infrastructure in a real-world environment.

Data center certifications are an effective tool for both industry professionals and organizations to gain the skills they need for modern data center management. Whether you’re looking to advance your career or address knowledge gaps of your team, data center certifications and training courses can help you achieve your goals. The new credentials will help you gain knowledge and expertise, acquire new skills, and ultimately improve data center management in your organization.

Looking for more information on finding your data center dream job? Check out our data center career resources, including certifications, community groups, and more!

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