Most certifications are not worth the time and expense it takes to acquire them. The certifications themselves generally don't reflect any real-world expertise and the companies doing the certifying tend to be more worried about profits than they are the quality of the people they are certifying. The only real reason to have most of them is get past the initial cattle call for job applicants.
But that's not to say that all certifications are a waste of time. Every now and again a new emerging technology shows up that requires real expertise to master. The latest example of that is virtualization. People that have been certified in virtualization technologies are in high demand, which essentially makes those certifications something to be coveted in these tough economic times.
As virtualization continues to evolve, we're seeing a wave of convergence in the data center. That convergence is bringing together server, storage and networking resources under a common management framework. The best-known examples of these converged platforms are the Unified Computing System from Cisco, the BladeSystem Matrix from Hewlett-Packard, the CloudBurst systems from IBM and the Virtual Integrated System from Dell. But convergence doesn't necessarily require new hardware as there are several software-centric options to achieving the same end.
The challenge these new architectures represent from an IT management perspective is that they provide a holistic approach to managing all of IT, rather than requiring specialists to manage specific server, storage or networking components or fleets of PC systems. As such, these new architectures will create demand for administrators that can manage the entire spectrum of IT. As new systems and IT automations tools to manage them become more commonplace, especially when deployed as the foundation for cloud computing, IT organizations will be looking to hire people with the broadest knowledge of IT operations possible.
So in terms of certifications, that means that a new HP ExpertONE certification is worth some attention. According to Lyle Speirs, director of sales and marketing for HP global certification and learning, the HP ExpertONE certfication is focused on HP's Converged Infrastructure strategy. As HP is trying to increase the number of IT people well-versed in HP technology, the certification program is pretty much open to all comers. In addition, Speirs says HP expects to work with a variety of academic institutions to help get as many IT people certified as possible.
Naturally, there will be similar certifications from other vendors. But the point is that IT people certified on how to administer all aspects of IT, from the data center to the PC, will be in the highest demand as cloud computing evolves. The days of the dedicated server, storage and networking specialist are coming to close in favor of experts that can administer an entire data center at a higher level of abstraction using next-generation systems management tools.
Obviously, this will involve a fair amount of IT process automation as part of the march toward cloud computing. Ultimately, we should expect to see the rise of what some people refer to as "super administrators." There's also no doubt that all that automation is going to displace some workers, while creating new opportunities for others. These super administrators, though, also known as data center experts, will become the new kings of IT, among the remaining few making the real money.