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Brocade Certification Guide: Overview And Career Paths

Brocade Certification Guide: Overview And Career Paths
By , Earl Follis

Brocade's certification program currently offers three certification levels on four networking-related tracks. If you're working with Brocade technologies, take a look at what the certs can offer and how your IT career can benefit from them.

Brocade has been an active player in the high-performance networking market for more than 20 years. While the company has long been known as a Fibre Channel manufacturer of choice for storage area network (SAN) fabrics, Brocade's current product portfolio includes everything from Ethernet switches, routers and wireless LAN (WLAN) components, to security appliances, software defined networking, network management software, transceivers and mobility networking tools. The breadth and width of the Brocade product line underscores the observation that Brocade certifications make an excellent stepping stone to a more lucrative, interesting career managing data center, LAN, WAN, WLAN and SAN networks.

SANs are some of the mission-critical back-end components in any modern data center, providing important services such as data storage and archiving, data replication and, in some cases, disaster recovery technology to enterprise IT customers. For example, more and more organizations are leveraging big data today, and it relies on high-performance, high-capacity SANs to store such stuff.

Brocade has remained an independent provider of SAN fabrics, but because the company doesn't manufacture or sell SANs itself, it can concentrate on building, installing and supporting the highest-quality, highest-performance SAN fabrics around.

Brocade Certification Program Overview

On Nov. 1, 2016, Brocade launched a new Brocade Certified Professional (BCP) program designed to more closely align with Brocade technology areas and to meet the needs of real-world Brocade professionals. All new Brocade certifications align to Brocade technology solutions tracks, primary Brocade job roles and professional skill levels.

Brocade identified four common job roles, which account for most Brocade-related jobs – Architect/Designer, Implementer, Administrator and Support. All certs in the latest BCP program now map to one of these job roles.

The new BCP recognizes five levels of expertise:

  • Associate (foundational)
  • Professional (intermediate)
  • Expert
  • Master
  • Brocade Distinguished Master (a pinnacle designation for professionals possessing superior Brocade skills)

Currently, there are also six technical tracks in the Brocade certification program, including:

TrackDescription
Ethernet Fabric IP
The Ethernet Fabric track is for professionals who work with Brocade VDX products and VDX hardware.
IP
The IP track targets IT professionals who troubleshoot, maintain, configure and install Brocade Layer 2/3 products.
IP Storage Networking
The IP Storage Networking track focuses on professionals working with Brocade storage solutions and VCS Fabric storage networks.
Mainframe Storage Networking
The Mainframe Storage Networking track targets professionals working with mainframe IO and mainframe storage solutions.
SANThe SAN track targets products and solutions using Brocade Fibre Channel.
Software Networking
The Software Networking track focuses on programmable network delivery

There is also one other certification positioned outside the six certification tracks. It's awarded based on completion of all requirements for at least three of the six preceding tracks. The Brocade Distinguished Master is the BCP capstone credential. Brocade Distinguished Masters are network ninjas, trained to the highest standards, who possess extensive knowledge of Brocade products, technologies and techniques.

With the launch of the company's new certification program, Brocade moved all testing from Pearson VUE to Certifior. Candidates need to create a Brocade profile on Certifior to register for exams. After taking a training course or studying on your own, you can schedule a BCP exam with Certifior. Each certification exam costs $150 per attempt.

Check out the Brocade Certification Program Guide for 2017 for complete BCP program details. The Certification Guide is easy to understand with certifications organized by certification level within each solution track. Prerequisites are easy to find and job role designators are included for each certification.

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Brocade Certifications

While some certifications are still under development, Brocade's new portfolio is robust. Currently, Master- and Professional-level credentials are offered for all solutions tracks. For most tracks, multiple Professional-level credentials are also available. Expert- and Associate-level credentials are likewise available for most solution tracks.

Credential
Master
Expert
Professional
Associate
Ethernet Fabric IP
X
X
X (2)

IP
X
X
X (2)X
IP Storage Networking
X
X
X (2)X
Mainframe Storage Networking
X

X (3)
SAN
X

X (3)X
Software Networking
X

X
X

*Numbers in parenthesis indicate the number of certifications available in this category exceeds one (1).

Ethernet Fabric IP Track

The Ethernet Fabric IP track contains four credentials consisting of one Master- and one Expert-level cert,  plus two Professional-level certifications.

Master
Brocade Ethernet Fabric IP Master 2017 (BEFIPM)
Prerequisite: BEEFIPS (4 exams)
Expert
Brocade Expert in Ethernet Fabric IP Support 2017 (BEEFIPS)
Prerequisites: BPEFIPS plus Advanced IP Storage Network Troubleshooting exam (143-910)
Professional
Brocade Professional Ethernet Fabric IP Administrator 2017 (BPEFIPA)
Prerequisites: Ethernet Fabric Foundations exam (200-200) or BCEFP plus Professional Ethernet Fabric IP Administrator 2017 exam (190-110)

Brocade Professional in Ethernet Fabric IP Support 2017 (BPEFIPS)
Prerequisites: BPEFIPA plus Advanced Ethernet Fabric IP Troubleshooting exam (190-210)
Associate
None at this time
Recommended Prerequisites
Network Industry Protocols (NIP 200) course

IP Track

The IP track contains credentials at all four levels – Associate, Professional (two certifications), Expert and Master.

Master
Brocade IP Master 2017 (BPIPM)
Prerequisites: BEIPA plus BPIPS
Expert
Brocade Expert IP Administrator 2017 (BEIPA)
Prerequisites: BPIPA plus BGP + MPLS exam (180-320)
Professional
Brocade Professional IP Administrator 2016 (BPIPA)
Prerequisite: Professional IP Administrator 2016 exam (180-210)
 
Brocade Professional in IP Support 2017 (BPIPS)
Prerequisites: BPIPA plus Advanced IP Troubleshooting exam (180-310)
Associate
Brocade Associate Campus Implementer 2017 (BAIPI)
Prerequisites: Associate Campus Implementer 2017 exam (180-111)
Recommended Prerequisites
Network Industry Protocols (NIP 200) course

IP Storage Networking Track

Credentials for the IP Storage Networking track are available for all four skill levels.

Master
Brocade IP Storage Network Master 2017 (BIPSNM) (4 exams)
Prerequisite: BEIPSNS
Expert
Brocade Expert IP Storage Network Support 2017 (BEIPSNS)
Prerequisites: BPIPSNS plus Advanced Ethernet Fabric IP Troubleshooting exam (190-210)
Professional
Brocade Professional IP Storage Network Administrator 2017 (BPIPSNA)
Prerequisites: Ethernet Fabric Foundations exam (200-200) or BCEFP plus Professional IP Storage Network Administrator exam (143-810)

Brocade Professional IP Storage Network Support 2017 (BPIPSNS)
Prerequisites: BAIPSNA plus Advanced IP Storage Network Troubleshooting exam (143-910)
Associate
Brocade Accredited IP Storage Network Administrator (BAIPSNA)
Prerequisites: Accredited IP Storage Network Administrator exam (160-250) (Optional)
Recommended Prerequisites
Network Industry Protocols (NIP 200) course

Mainframe Storage Networking Track

The Mainframe Storage Networking track currently contains four credentials – one Master plus three Professional certifications.

Master
Brocade Mainframe Storage Networking Master 2017 (BMSNM)
Prerequisites: BPMSNA plus BPSS (four exams)
Expert
None at this time
Professional
Brocade Professional Mainframe Storage Networking Architect 2017 (BPMSNA)
Prerequisites: Professional Mainframe Storage Networking Architect 2017 exam (143-140)

Brocade Professional SAN Administrator 2017 (BPSA)
Prerequisite: Professional SAN Administrator 2017 exam (143-090)

Brocade Professional in SAN Support 2017 (BPSS)
Prerequisite: BPSA plus Advanced SAN Troubleshooting exam (143-710)
Associate
None at this time
Recommended Prerequisites
Brocade Associate SAN Administrator 2017 exam (143-430)

SAN Track

The SAN track offers one Master, three Professional and one Associate credential.

Master
Brocade SAN Master 2017 (BSM)
Prerequisites: BASA plus BPSS (3 exams) 
Expert
Not available at this time
Professional
Brocade Professional SAN Designer Gen 5 (BPSD)
Prerequisite: Professional SAN Designer Gen 5 exam (143-280) (formerly Brocade Certified Fabric Designer Gen 5 -BCFD Gen 5)

Brocade Professional SAN Administrator 2017 (BPSA)
Prerequisite: Professional SAN Administrator 2017 exam (143-090) 

Brocade Professional in SAN Support 2017 (BPSS)
Prerequisites: BPSA plus Advanced SAN Troubleshooting exam (143-710)
Associate
Brocade Associate SAN Administrator 2017 (BASA)
Prerequisites: Associate SAN Administrator 2017 exam (143-430)
Recommended PrerequisitesNone at this time

Software Networking Track

The Software Networking track offers three credentials at the Master, Professional and Associate levels. The requirements for the Master certification are still being determined.

Master
Brocade Software Networking Master 2017 (BSWNM) (certification requirements under development)
Expert
None available at this time
Professional
Brocade Professional vADC Administrator 2016 (BPvADCA)
Prerequisites: Professional vADC Administrator 2016 exam (170-030)
Associate
Brocade Accredited vRouter Implementer (BAvRI)
Prerequisites: Accredited vRouter Implementer exam (160-240)
Recommended PrerequisitesNetwork Industry Protocol (NIP 200) course

Brocade Certification Training and Resources

Brocade offers educational training and courses to prepare you for your BCP exams through Brocade Authorized Training Partners worldwide. Note that Brocade certification tests do not have specific course prerequisites. If you have the knowledge and experience to pass a Brocade certification test, you can challenge that test at your discretion. That said, most folks seek to avail themselves of Brocade University's web-based, virtual classroom or in-person instructor-led classes or eLearning formats to gain and retain the required knowledge to pass their certification tests. This helps to explain why the company's training courses are popular and heavily attended.

Brocade has a strict prohibition against certification candidates releasing or disseminating any questions or topics they see on BCP certification exams. One of the ways that Brocade retains control over its test questions and content is by having all certification candidates sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) forbidding discussion of tests with any third parties. Certification candidates who are caught sharing test information or using third-party study guides will be banned from the BCP program for life.

Networking With Brocade Peers

Brocade offers several online meeting places where Brocade Certified Professionals and BCP candidates can discuss certification goals, methodologies and challenges:

  • The MyBrocade portal includes discussion groups, certification program updates and the opportunity to connect with other BCPs. Register for free at MyBrocade portal.
  • LinkedIn group called Brocade Certified is the official BCP group for certification connections and discussions. The group is private and you must  request to join it. Search for "Brocade Certified" from within LinkedIn.
  • Brocade also sponsors a Facebook group called Brocade Certified, where you can network with networking types and join relevant discussions. Search within Facebook for "Brocade Certified" to join the community.

For other Brocade networking opportunities, be sure to visit Brocade Communities for the latest updates on events, blogs, discussion groups, documentation and more.

The Future of Brocade Certifications

With the coming onslaught of software defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) products, look for Brocade's certification program to evolve over the next few years as these new technologies reach critical mass in the marketplace.

SDN refers to the separation of the control layer and forwarding layer in network architecture, adding the ability to automate network provisioning while using industry-standard network hardware, rather than proprietary hardware/software combinations.

NFV virtualizes various network services such as DNS, firewalls and load balancers, in large-scale environments. NFV and SDN are complementary technologies that assist in automating deployment, provisioning and management of network devices, though either can be present without the other.

Why Certify?

There is strong empirical evidence that certification programs are beneficial to certification candidates, both in expanding their current knowledge set, as well as leveraging those certifications to move up the career ladder. Certification and relevant experience with Brocade products leads to career opportunities such as a SAN administrator, fabric designer, pre-sales engineer, network engineer or architect.

Also note that the continuing development of SDN and NFV are pushing more and more IT infrastructure into virtualized or cloud-based storage strategies. As this transformation continues and storage virtualization becomes more commonplace, the lines between server admins, network admins and storage admins will become more and more blurred.

SAN and networking technologies are complex, complicated deployments that have the potential to bring a company's IT infrastructure and applications to a standstill if not performed flawlessly. Brocade's certification program provides a solid framework for IT professionals who are looking to take on the challenges of today's networking ecosphere, while also looking forward to emerging technologies such as NFV and SDN. As the networking market changes, Brocade continues to update their certification program topics and tracks. Consider an investment in a Brocade certification an investment in your current job and future career.

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