HP: The Best Place to Start with The Cloud World – with Karl Childs

by Mirek Burnejko

Karl ChildsThis is an interview with Karl Childs from HP. Karl is the Global Portfolio Manager with HP ExpertOne. Today we talk about HP’s new cloud certifications.

In this interview you will find:

  • What is the best place to start with HP’s cloud certifications?
  • Does HP offers free materials for students?
  • Do employers need cloud computing specialists with the HP certifications?

Mirek Burnejko: Hello Karl. Can you tell us something about you and your role in HP?

Karl Childs: I am a Global Portfolio Manager with ExpertOne, the certification and learning organization for HP. My core responsibility covers the Converged Infrastructure and Cloud portfolio. In my job, I am responsible for identifying and building the right certification programs that will not only be applicable and appealing to our wide audiences, but also drive the right skills into the marketplace and ensure an ever-increasing knowledgeable and capable workforce to meet any current and future IT needs.

MB: What is the best place to start with your Cloud Computing program and certifications?

KC: The Cloud portfolio offers certification aligned to several job roles and audiences. If you are just starting out or even still in school, HP offers a Cloud academic certification called the Accredited Technical Associate (ATA) – Cloud V1. It will teach you industry-standard cloud and virtualization technologies, as well as how to support disaster recovery plans, install, configure, and upgrade servers, storage, data, networks, clients, applications, and users in new and existing environments.

If you perform sales-related roles, start your path to certification with the HP Sales Certified – Converged Cloud. Converged Management and Security [2012]. Limited to HP partners, this certification will validate you have the skills to develop value propositions that focus on, and address, customer business challenges centered on Converged Infrastructure and the Cloud.

For other more technical job roles, including presales or administration, the best place to start is the HP Accredited Technical Professional (ATP) – Cloud Administrator V1. This certification assures you have the skills to manage a service centric private cloud, simplifying and optimizing a converged infrastructure and maximize uptime for cloud services.

This Administrator certification will act as a great starting point for other more advanced Cloud certifications, provide you hands-on experience with HP CloudSystem Matrix and Cloud Service Automation, and also count as the prerequisite for certifications aligned to the Architect or Integrator job roles.

MB: Who is the ideal candidate for HP ASE – Cloud Integrator and HP ATP – Cloud Administrator?

HP CloudKC: To fully administer, manage, and configure a cloud solution, the best candidate will have some understanding of the underlying technologies supporting the cloud. At minimum, the candidate should have experience managing Blade server environments and using management software for converged systems and basic virtualized environments. The Cloud Integrator certification also requires additional experience in integrating multiple technologies in a data center, and expertise in its hardware infrastructure (storage, servers, and networking) or software solutions (automation, virtualization, security software).

MB: How is the HP ASE – Cloud Architect certification different from the other certifications?

KC: The Cloud Architect certification is aimed at the presales or Solution Architect (SA) job role, or for those candidates who perform that function in larger customer enterprises. It will enable you to recognize cloud opportunities and apply the right solutions to the right IT environment. You will learn and validate the skills of selecting, positioning, and architecting a cloud solution with HP CloudSystem built on a converged infrastructure. This certification is one of the most key learning opportunities in truly understanding all that the HP cloud solutions can do. Understanding which cloud solution is the right solution will help you in any other job role, whether it be sales, configuration, or management and support.

MB: Can you tell us more about the exams?

KC: Exams are administered in-person (proctored) at a network of PearsonVUE global authorized testing centers. Exam question formats may include multiple choice, graphical questions, and other types of questions, which vary by exam.

Rather than emphasize simple memorization, HP exams are designed to assess if candidates have the knowledge and skills required for successful performance in the identified job role. A single certification exam may include topics covered in training, as well as knowledge developed from hands-on experience. Exam Preparation Guides are available for every certification exam. These guides describe the content and type of exam, exam topics, number of questions, and passing score.

MB: How to prepare for the cloud certifications? Do we need a training or an access to a lab?

KC: For every HP certification, there is a corresponding training that candidates can attend. Training is offered through HP Education Services, HP Institute (for the academic program) and our global network of Learning Solution Partners. Many of these classes offer hands-on practice and experience, either on local equipment and systems, or though the HP Remote Lab, where candidates can access a live working Converged Infrastructure and Cloud environment for learning on the real thing.

For the HP ASE Cloud Architect certification (and several other HP certifications), there is also an official HP Press self-study exam guide that allows you to learn at your own pace, outside of a formal classroom. It contains detailed explanations, diagrams, and chapter quizzes tailored to the certification exam.

MB: Do you offer some kind of free materials?

HP ExpertONEKC: The HP Learning Center offers several web-based courses and other items at no charge. These free resources are there to help you learn more about a certain topic, such as cloud, and prepare you with the right foundation for starting down a certification path. Note that core certification courses run as instructor-led training will require payment.

Once you become a member of the ExpertOne community or earn a certification, you gain access to a number of benefits that are provided at no charge, depending on the level of certification earned, including membership in Connect Worldwide, access to the HP ExpertOne Certified Professionals group on Elance, free New Product Introduction (NPI) training, opportunities to attend ASE Beta classes at no charge, participation in Technology Solution Series and Master Jam sessions, and more.

MB: Do employers need cloud computing specialists with the HP certifications?

KC: According to the September 2012 IDG report “IT Training & Certificates”, more than 60% of IT executives reported that they found it extremely or very challenging to find enough qualified IT staff to design, deploy or manage cloud or converged infrastructure projects. Skills in the cloud area are very much in demand. IT professionals with cloud certifications are better equipped to push innovation and increase productivity. IDC has found that organizations with at least 40-55% of their team members certified performed above the average of all organizations, and that the certified skills of IT staff members will continue to reign as the single biggest predictor of IT project success for the foreseeable future.

MB: I want to become a cloud computing expert and don’t know anything about “the cloud”. Can I start with your program or maybe somewhere else?

KC: HP certifications are a great place to start. You can start by searching the HP Learning Center for free web-based training on the cloud and HP solutions, or enter directly into the HP certification path. The certification you start with depends on your job role.

Alternatively, you can also gain some industry knowledge by earning a vendor-neutral cloud certification, such as CompTIA’s Cloud Essentials, or an enterprise architecture standards certification, such as the TOGAF or ITIL certifications.

MB: At the end can you tell us something about HP Master ASE – Converged Infrastructure Architect? I’ve heard it’s a hard certification to achieve.

KC: The HP Master Accredited Solutions Expert (MASE) – Converged Infrastructure Architect V2 is the pinnacle of the HP certification portfolio. This certification truly tests whether you are capable of finding the right converged infrastructure and cloud solution based on a given set of customer requirements, prepare that solution, and then convince decision-makers at the CxO level that your solution is right.

Because this certification test the highest-level of architecture and integration skills, it is harder to obtain than the other cloud certifications. You must first apply to be accepted into the certification path. Once approved, you then have the opportunity to take a special training, available only to those who were accepted into the Master ASE path, and must pass a proctored exam. Then you are presented with the customer scenario, prepare your solution, and stand in front of a board comprising five [”executive”]-level individuals representing this company and present your solution, intending win the business.

While it is more difficult to earn, it is also one of the industry’s most valuable certifications, proving those who have earned it are the “best of the best” and can provide world-class service to any company or organization.

[This is part of the Interviews with Vendors Series]