Aruba Networks, an HPE company, has refreshed its certification process and rolled out a brand-new certification that reflects the converging IT industry, the company told CRN USA.
"There's a lot of people leaving through attrition, new hires coming in, including millennials, so companies need to be agile and weather this change, said Paul Curto, vice president of Global Sales Advocacy and Enablement for Aruba. "The partners we talk to are expressing that they need to equip their workers with new skills. That's where our certifications and educational programs come in."
Many IT certifications focus on depth of knowledge within a specific technology area. The new Aruba Edge Certification is the first of its kind -- a cross-domain certification that recognizes expertise in Mobility, Switching, Design and Security, Curto said.
"When we think about the edge, we're aiming to highlight expertise at each level of an organization," he said.
Aruba in November also refreshed its certification policy to untie the certifications from new software versions, the company said. The company's former process resulting in certification holders recertifying at the same time, usually in Q4, Curto said. The new process will let partner organisations better plan for employee training budgets and manage timelines.
The holders of Aruba certifications are largely channel partners, who account for roughly 70 percent of the certification holders today, Aruba said.
"The channel is a vital part of our strategy in terms of how we are achieving growth and we need to make sure the channel is viewed as any other seller within our organization," Curto said. "The new process lets partners represent their skills independent of product announcements."
Existing certification holders who meet the requirements for the Edge certification through three of the four domains, such as mobility or security, will be granted an Aruba Edge certification at the appropriate level, which includes the Edge Associate, Edge Professional and Edge Expert certification levels.
"Anyone earning the ACMA, ACSA, and ACDA would automatically be awarded the Aruba Edge Associate certification on the date they completed their third certification at that level. The same is true for Professional and Expert level certifications," Curto added.
Aruba said that 760 individuals -- 71 percent being partners and 29 percent enterprise professionals -- hold the Edge Certification today, which became available to partners last month.
"The Edge certification is a recognition that Aruba's portfolio is getting broader and addressing more of the IT landscape," said Brandon Harris, senior director of national alliances for Logicalis, Inc., a global solution provider and Aruba Platinum Partner.
Logicalis holds about 10 Aruba certifications today, including mobility and sales certifications. The firm plans on going after the latest Aruba Edge certification, Harris said.
Aruba's restructuring of its certification process is making the path easier for its partners, Harris said. Logicalis has faced challenges with re-certification and keeping its certifications current.
"[Aruba] is recognizing that certifications need to last a little longer and also, there's people in the industry that may have the knowledge but not necessarily a certification. Letting them move straight to the test versus having to go to classes and then test is a big step in the right direction," he said.
That simplification also lets partners keep their engineers at work, rather than taking them out of the field, Harris added.
Aruba wants to help close the skills gap, an especially challenging obstacle for partners. To that end, the firm is making headway with Aruba Academy, its program that partners Aruba with universities and educational institutions around the globe to create a networking technology curriculum focused on teaching students how to manage a solution or handle challenges for a particular use case, instead of taking a product-specific focus.
The program is aiming to lessen the burden on partner organizations that have to train new hires, Curto said. One of the biggest hurdle facing partners today, he said, is finding the next generation of IT talent with the right skills. "So far, our key partners are thrilled about the Academy," he said.
Aruba Academy's newest flavour, Aruba Academy Express, is a self-service model for universities that includes Aruba's mobility, switching, security and design courses that can be offered within the school's curriculum.
"This approach provides students with a pragmatic, real-life experience that they can apply once they graduate and enter the workforce," Curto said. "They become that much more relevant and valuable to channel partner [organizations] in particular, but also other, broader organizations."