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EMC Proven Storage Technology Foundations Exam - Passed

I passed the Storage Technology Foundations exam this morning to earn the EMC Proven Professional Associate level certification.

My Score: 73%
Passing Score: 67%

Not the best score, but a pass is a pass and now I know what to expect from EMC exams. The actual test was more difficult than the practice exam I took, and that surprised me, but in a good way. I took a practice test two days ago and blew through 45 questions in 15 minutes to score an 84%. The actual exam was more difficult - 65 questions that required more knowledge and were more specific. However, these are not essay-length Microsoft questions so I only required 30 minutes of the alotted 90. The increase in difficulty hurt my score, but I felt like my knowledge was actually tested and that I earned something after dropping $200 on the exam. If the test were too easy, I wouldn't have respected the certification in the morning.

The test itself had 6 sections that match the 6 training modules. The 3 most heavily-tested sections were Storage Systems Architecture, Networked Storage, and Business Continuity. This wasn't a surprise since those 3 are also the longest training modules. Fortunately I scored well in those sections (especially the Networked Storage) and that carried me to a passing score.

Study Materials
Books Read:
O'Reilly Using SANs and NAS
Cisco Press Storage Networking Fundamentals

Books Referenced:
Cisco Press Storage Networking Protocol Fundamentals
iSCSI:The Universal Storage Connection

Training:
EMC Storage Technology Foundations eLearning ValuePak

According to EMC, the STF test is an open, vendor-neutral, foundation exam. EMC products are used as a reference, but this test is not all about EMC (I found the actual exam to have more EMC technology than I expected). However, it seems the only training you can get for this exam is from EMC. There are no third-party books like Sybex or third-party practice exams like Transcender, and that is very different than my previous experiences with Microsoft and Cisco. The PowerPoint-like eLearning valuepak normally costs $990, but I was able to apply training credits that we purchased with our EMC SAN. Since this cert isn't as well known as an MCSE or CCNA, I don't know if the fame and fortune that goes with the EMCPA is worth someone spending almost $1200 to achieve.

Since we still have plenty of training credits, I already registered and downloaded the material for the Specialist level Storage Area Network and Networked Storage exams. Why stop at EMCPA if i can earn an EMCSA in a couple of areas for just the cost of the exams and some study time?

Comments

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    azjagazjag Member Posts: 579 ■■■■■■■□□□
    Congrats on the pass. :)
    Currently Studying:
    VMware Certified Advanced Professional 5 – Data Center Administration (VCAP5-DCA) (Passed)
    VMware Certified Advanced Professional 5 – Data Center Design (VCAP5-DCD)
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    dynamikdynamik Banned Posts: 12,312 ■■■■■■■■■□
    Congratulations. It's been interesting to hear about your experiences with this since it rarely comes up.

    On to CCIE: Storage, right?
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    eMeSeMeS Member Posts: 1,875 ■■■■■■■■■□
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    ClaymooreClaymoore Member Posts: 1,637
    dynamik wrote:
    Congratulations. It's been interesting to hear about your experiences with this since it rarely comes up.

    On to CCIE: Storage, right?

    Thanks everyone.

    That's the plan. The EMC Storage Network exam includes training modules on Brocade, McData and Cisco fiber switches. Cisco has a Data Center Storage Networking Support Specialist certification, but other than that, it's a big jump from CCNA to CCIE:Storage without a professional certification inbetween. Maybe that's why there are only 99 Storage CCIEs in the world.

    Even though iSCSI is becoming really popular, there is a large installed base of FC SANs and that is not likely to change soon. However, my company is changing from FC to iSCSI (I could give a litany of reasons, but that would be for a different post). Just my luck - as soon as I can get training on the hardware, we decide to get rid of the hardware. That means I will have to leave so I can get the experience I need in order to attempt the CCIE:Storage. When that time comes, I guess we'll all find out how valuable an EMC cert is on the open market...
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    UnixGuyUnixGuy Mod Posts: 4,567 Mod
    wow

    congratulations buddy!

    I want to specialize in storages and clustered systems, so I started with Sun Solaris. I will take more trainings in Sun Microsystems storages products, and after hands on experience, I'm gonna fly to Sun Clustering.


    Interesting, I didn't know about CCIE storage, perhaps because I'm working exclusively with Sun (my job), so all I hear is Sun products.

    It'd be great if one can combine storage knowledge with cisco and sun expertise :)
    Certs: GSTRT, GPEN, GCFA, CISM, CRISC, RHCE

    Learn GRC! GRC Mastery : https://grcmastery.com 

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    blargoeblargoe Member Posts: 4,174 ■■■■■■■■■□
    I have this cert too. I think the entry level is not that worthwhile for industry recognition, but since it is a required prerequisite to the more advanced EMC certs, it's a necessity I guess. Your observations match what I remember about it - it was harder than I had anticipated, and was mostly neutral though it used actual EMC equipment in some of the example questions, where you had to actually know what that model and line was used for.

    Anyway, congrats. I think you passed what is a pretty good general-knowledge, relatively neutral, storage cert.

    What do you plan to do next? I was going to move on to the higher EMC certs after passing this one but management has shifted me away from certification-based training and toward training that is pertinent to the projects the business needs me to work on, so it may be a while if ever before I get back on the storage track again.
    IT guy since 12/00

    Recent: 11/2019 - RHCSA (RHEL 7); 2/2019 - Updated VCP to 6.5 (just a few days before VMware discontinued the re-cert policy...)
    Working on: RHCE/Ansible
    Future: Probably continued Red Hat Immersion, Possibly VCAP Design, or maybe a completely different path. Depends on job demands...
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    ClaymooreClaymoore Member Posts: 1,637
    I just overcame my dissapointment at not getting a new lapel pin for my updated MCSE and now I find out that I don't even get a printed certificate or a t-shirt for earning my EMCPA. You don't earn those until you pass a specialist exam.

    What is this - certification Amway?

    Guess that means I will start the Networked Storage - SAN specialist track next. What good is a certification if I can't get a shirt with a new logo or a printed certificate fo the 'I Love Me' wall of my cubicle?
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    royalroyal Member Posts: 3,352 ■■■■□□□□□□
    I plan on eventually doing the certification for Netapp; maybe in a couple years. I will soon have full access to Netapp iSCSI SAN when we implement it in our test lab and have access to Netapp University. I've just been so busy trying to learn PowerShell, OCS, and other stuff.
    “For success, attitude is equally as important as ability.” - Harry F. Banks
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    blargoeblargoe Member Posts: 4,174 ■■■■■■■■■□
    I was thinking I at least got a certificate for it, but I don't remember for sure, it was a year ago. I got some kind of a packet in the mail a couple weeks later.
    IT guy since 12/00

    Recent: 11/2019 - RHCSA (RHEL 7); 2/2019 - Updated VCP to 6.5 (just a few days before VMware discontinued the re-cert policy...)
    Working on: RHCE/Ansible
    Future: Probably continued Red Hat Immersion, Possibly VCAP Design, or maybe a completely different path. Depends on job demands...
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    MishraMishra Member Posts: 2,468 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Nice! I really want to try for a storage certification as I work with SANs and really want a better knowledge of the beast.

    I'm sad to hear the pricing around the exam as I would expect it to be harder with smaller resources available.

    How long did it take you to study? What was the best study material? For right now, I might go buy a book just to learn off of, not to do the test.
    My blog http://www.calegp.com

    You may learn something!
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    ClaymooreClaymoore Member Posts: 1,637
    Total study time about 10 weeks - 5 weeks reading on my own and 5 weeks with the EMC material. Honestly, storage technology can be real boring and getting through all the material made for some tough sledding at times. I kept falling asleep through the EMC Business Continuity section so I had to watch it 4 times because I was only awake for certain sections. I read the Using SANs and NAS book by Preston, and I think that is the best book with which to start. Preston is a backup guru though and half of the already thin book is dedicated to backing up the arrays. The Storage Networking Fundamentals book from Cisco Press was also excellent. I started it before we got our training credits and finished reading it when I was going through the EMC training.

    Unfortunately the EMC training is the best resource for this exam. I don't say that because the training is bad - I definitely felt like I learned a lot. Most of us are training on a tight budget (especially if we are paying for it on our own) and the training is expensive. Without the training credits we purchased with our SAN I would not have had access to the EMC material. I do think you could pass this test without the EMC training, but you would have to know their product line in order to recognize what pieces of the Symmetrix or Clariion do which functions. The other problem I had was that every author has a different name for the same concept, and all of them have a reason why theirs is better. The EMC training and EMC exam at least use the same glossary.

    If you are interested in a SAN certification, the Storage Networking Industry Association has an open, vendor neutral certification - the SNIA Certified Storage Professional. There are many free downloadable whitepapers on the SNIA site that can be used as study material for the exam. The test is $250 (I think), so if you add on another $100 for a few books you can achieve an entry-level SAN cert for less than the cost of the EMCPA. The SCSP might even be more useful than the EMCPA if you don't plan on implementing (or already have) an EMC solution. Those of you using Hitachi (including Sun and HP) or NetApp might want to consider the SCSP.
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    astorrsastorrs Member Posts: 3,139 ■■■■■■□□□□
    Claymoore wrote:
    Unfortunately the EMC training is the best resource for this exam. I don't say that because the training is bad - I definitely felt like I learned a lot. Most of us are training on a tight budget (especially if we are paying for it on our own) and the training is expensive. Without the training credits we purchased with our SAN I would not have had access to the EMC material. I do think you could pass this test without the EMC training, but you would have to know their product line in order to recognize what pieces of the Symmetrix or Clariion do which functions. The other problem I had was that every author has a different name for the same concept, and all of them have a reason why theirs is better. The EMC training and EMC exam at least use the same glossary.
    I just took the exam today and wanted to echo what Claymoore said in the above quote. The EMC training is by far the best resource for preparing for the exam. I was also surprised (like others) about the amount of EMC specific product information that was on the exam (considering it's supposed to be vendor neutral).

    For me the exam started off terribly. I marked the first 5 questions for review and thought to myself - OMG what the hell is this? a sales brochure? (I was sure I was going to fail), then questions #6 onwards were much more in line with what I expected. I ended up passing with 85% so it was fine in the end.

    I'll come back to EMC later on this year and wrap up the "EMCSA: CLARiiON Solutions" certification, but I've got other exams to conquer first... :)
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