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Prepare for SNIA certification with these tips

As the storage industry in India is growing, many professionals are thinking of entering the storage domain. To cross the threshold, these professionals are aiming to acquire the SNIA S10-101 certification. Meanwhile, professionals who are already in this field want to acquire the SNIA certification

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to validate their skills in the domain.

The SNIA certification’s curriculum consists of the following modules, and the exam will contain questions from each of these modules.

Basic storage technology

This SNIA certification module contains data classification and storage evolution, and core elements of a data center infrastructure and their requirements. It also deals with the importance and benefits of an ILM strategy, and tries to explain the big picture — how data is evolving. Other elements covered include physical and logical components of the host, connectivity and storage, including key protocols and options.

Disk technology

The second module of SNIA certification preparation will cover components of a disk drive (including their functions), logical constructs of a physical disk, factors affecting disk drive performance, common RAID levels, understanding RAID levels based on performance and availability considerations, and components and benefits of an intelligent storage system. This module will also discuss the benefits, limitations and management considerations of direct attached storage, plus the different types of disks available, that is, FC, SATA and SAS, and their benefits, limitations, etc.

SCSI

It will talk about SCSI architecture and addressing schemes. The module will deal with the SCSI protocol, communication and stack as part of the SNIA certification curriculum.

FC SAN

This module will discuss the storage area network (SAN) including the benefits, the best environment for SAN use, SAN components, topologies, connectivity options and zoning, the FC protocol stack, addressing, flow control and classes of service. It will consist of the various SAN topologies, that is, direct connect, FC-AL, switched, core edge, etc. This SNIA certification module will also comprise the FC protocols, that is, FC, FCIP and their stack.

NAS

Covers networked attached storage (NAS), including the benefits of and best environment for NAS use, NAS components, protocols, implementation options and management considerations. This SNIA certification module also includes details of CIFS and NFS protocols.

IP storage

This module requires that SNIA certification aspirants master IP storage area network (IP SAN), including the benefits of and best environment for IP SAN use and the basic architecture of iSCSI, FCIP and FCoE.

Virtualization

Comprises of storage virtualization concepts — SAN virtualization, NAS virtualization and data center virtualization.

Storage management

This SNIA certification module deals with the storage security framework and various security domains; security implementation in SAN, NAS and IP-SAN networking; the monitoring of various storage infrastructure components; storage management activities and challenges, besides storage management initiatives.

Data management

The data management module of SNIA certification talks about backup procedures which are in place for protecting data.

Continuity management

This module of SNIA certification comprises of business continuity measurement, terminologies and planning; backup consideration, purposes and granularity; backup methods, architecture and topologies; and technologies in SAN and NAS environments. It will also cover local replication: uses and considerations, including host- and array-based local replication technologies; and synchronous and asynchronous remote replication, including various host- and array-based remote replication technologies.

SNIA certification exam’s structure

The SNIA certification exam has 73 questions, the passing score is 70%, and the time given is 60 minutes. The exam fees are $225. There is no defined eligibility for the SNIA certification exam; anyone can appear for it.

Professionals who are already in the storage domain will need to concentrate on all the above topics. But as the storage domain is divided into sub-domains, a storage professional is likely to come under the SAN, NAS or BURA domains. The professional will therefore need to learn the concepts of other domains to master SNIA certification. For example, a storage professional who is dealing with SAN products will need to understand the concepts of NAS and BURA, as the SNIA certification curriculum touches all the storage industry domains. Stress should be given to the basic concepts, as questions will focus on these aspects.

Freshers will need to read each of the module topics in detail and try to understand the concepts. They should relate the theory with the practical world. For instance, in disk technologies, they can take the case of their PC or laptop hard disk to study various disk parameters such as capacity and RPM, and then search online for more information. Instructor-led training for the SNIA certification exam is recommended for freshers. In India, this is provided by SNIA’s certified education partners.

As an alternative, if you want to study for SNIA certification on your own, you can enroll for an e-learning course from SNIA. The SNIA Authorized e-Course costs $525, and you will get 25% off on the exam price. (http://www.angelbc.com/snia/snia_buy.html)

EMC Education Services has released a book called The Information Storage & Management Book (https://education.emc.com/ISMbook/default.aspx) which covers all the topics in detail; if read thoroughly, the book will help you to clear the SNIA certification exam. In India the book is being published and distributed by Wiley Publications.

Here are a few useful links that can help you prepare for SNIA certification:

http://www.snia.org

http://www.storageio.com/

http://www.scsita.org/

http://www.searchstorage.com/

http://expertanswercenter.techtarget.com/eac/knowledgebaseCategory/0,295197,sid63_tax296975,00.html

http://www.ciscopress.com/bookstore/product.asp?isbn=1587051621

http://www.scribd.com/doc/43763928/Storage

http://www.scribd.com/doc/23367510/Data-Storage

Once you have studied all the modules, you can take a practice test for SNIA certification on:

http://www.snia.org/education/certification/practice/index.htm

This practice test will help you to analyze your preparedness, and let you know the areas where you will be requiring more focus before appearing for the SNIA certification exam.

About the author: Anuj Sharma is an EMC Certified and NetApp accredited professional. In his current role, he handles implementation projects related to SAN, NAS and BURA. If you have any queries, you can contact the author at anuj.ajju@gmail.com

This was first published in December 2010

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