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What’s New With AIX Certifications

I fondly remember one of my first certifications when I was certified as an AIX administrator, way back during the days of AIX 4.3. I carried the laminated card in my pocket—a pretty geeky act, when being a geek was far from popular. If you wanted training, you had to go to an on-site training class. There were also tracks that provided you with more advanced certifications, around their Certified Advanced Technical Expert brand (CATE) brand. I still consider the day I received my IBM Certified Advanced Technical Expert for System p in 2006 as one of my proudest achievements. So what’s new today in the land of AIX certifications?

IBM Certified System Administrator–AIX V1

Let’s start with IBM Certified System Administrator—AIX V1. This is the only AIX-exclusive certification still provided by IBM. It requires passing test c9010-022, IBM Administration V1. IBM recommends that you have at least two years of experience administering AIX, including the use of virtualization, before taking the exam. You’ll need to brush up on your skills in the following areas to pass this test: networking, VIO client partitions, device and storage management, usage of the HMC and PowerVC, general user administration tasks (e.g., limiting resources, creating/using groups, etc.); system backup and recovery; installation and general maintenance of AIX; system security; usage of NIM and the management of WPARs. You’ll also need to have a general understanding of PowerVM components such as AME, AMS, Shared Processor Pools, etc. The exam will only include functionality available for at least six months prior to the exam being published. You will need to know AIX 7.1 and should also know AIX 6.1 as well.

The exam itself consists of nine sections: systems availability (including CEC firmware), storage management, system and network security, partition management, systems management and tuning, network management, systems management, installation and management of AIX, and general administration tasks. You’ll have two hours to answer 62 questions, and you’ll need to answer 36 correctly to pass the test.

While this is the only pure AIX test and certification available today, there are also Power Systems certifications worth looking into. Let’s review some of them.

IBM Certified Technical Sales Specialist – Power Systems with POWER8 Scale-out V1

This is the basic technical sales specialist certification. To receive this certification, you’ll need to take the C9010-251 Power Systems with POWER8 Scale-out Technical Skills V1 exam. IBM recommends that you have at least 10-12 years of experience in system and solutions design in a technical leadership role. This test is best suited for someone who’d be able to provide pre-sales technical assistance to their account teams. You’d need to be able to understand basic IBM Power technical concepts, Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), competitive offerings, and how to determine appropriate solutions for server consolidation and virtualization. The exam consists of four sections: Power Systems architecture and productions, virtualization, solution design, and software and OS considerations (including AIX, IBM i and Linux). You’ll also be expected to have knowledge in PowerHA, PowerVM and PowerVC.

After you complete that, you should also look into the more advanced level Technical Sales Specialist Certification; IBM Certified Technical Sales Specialist – Power Systems with POWER8 Enterprise V2

To receive this certification, you’ll need to pass two exams:

  1. C9010-251 Power Systems with POWER8 Scale-out Technical Skills V1 exam. This is the same exam that you would have needed to take to get the IBM Certified Technical Sales Specialist – Power Systems with POWER8 Scale-out V1, certification designation.
  2. C9010-262 – Power Systems with POWER8 Enterprise Technical Sales Skills V2. This exam consists of four sections, including Power Systems architecture and product family, virtualization and cloud, design solutions to customer requirements and Competitive Offerings.

IBM recommends that you have experience in Power Systems sales and/or support roles and that you should have detailed product knowledge of the Power portfolio. There is an expectation that this person would assume a technical leadership role in developing solution proposals. Skills required include a detailed knowledge of POWER8 servers and overall Power architecture, strong background in software productions, including PowerHA, PowerVM and PowerVC, PowerSC, PowerVP, and also how to position Power Systems products against competitive products from Oracle, HP, Cisco and x86 server venders.

IBM Certified Sales Specialist—Power Systems with Power8 v2

This is the more sales-oriented certification, and requires passing the C9010-260 – IBM Power Systems with POWER8 Sales Skills V2 exam. There are four sections to this test: general product knowledge, competition, value proposition and high-level solutions design.

To pass the exam, you will need to have a good understand of the Power Systems platform, including Linux. You’ll also need to have a basic understanding of Power peripherals, such as HMCs, tapes and storage devices. Moreover, the exam requires understanding the market and where POWER fits in. At the same time, you’ll need to differential some of the more popular cloud offerings from Amazon and Microsoft, from IBM Cloud-based offerings. You’ll need to understand TCO and how Power Systems can save an organization money. You’ll also need to identify the pros and cons of running different Operating systems on Power.

Studying Essentials

How do you prepare for certifications? While you can’t minimize the importance of real-word experience, it’s essential that you put a plan together that will help you in your preparation to pass this test.

IBM has everything you need, which is provided through the Learning Journey and the IBM Skills Gateway. This is a collection of learning content that you would use to acquire skills for a specific role or technology area. You can track your progress when starting to use a pre-defined journey. There are also flow charts with courses by product and roles to help you achieve a specific goal.

Here are the IBM Power Systems and AIX training paths.

There are five training paths that you should consider pursuing:

  1. Power Systems What's New and Migration
  2. AIX Users and System Administration
  3. AIX Security, Network Administration, and Performance
  4. Power Systems for AIX Virtualization
  5. PowerHA System Mirror for AIX

Within these tracks, there are options for self-paced, self-paced with labs, traditional instructor led courses and instructor led/online. I did a quick search on the AIX Basic course and found dozens of options for online training and instructor-led online courses, which are the most popular today.

For those of you interested in getting up to speed on POWER9, there’s a class that should be available on the IBM Skills Gateway soon. It’s the IBM POWER9 Enterprise Technical Certification Preparation Workshop, which will help you take the IBM POWER9 Enterprise Technical Certification test, when that becomes available.

IBM Technical Universities

I’m also a big fan of IBM’s Technical Universities (TechU). I fondly remember my first event, which was in Las Vegas about a dozen years ago. You can take many of the certification classes at the event itself (at a discounted rate), which makes it that much more appealing. There are also tons of Redbooks available to look at, and you should do that in your spare time.

In conclusion, while everyone seems to have an opinion on the overall value of certifications and what it means, I am a big believer in them. Being certified in an area of expertise, shows a level of commitment and also achievement. A certification in itself does not guarantee employment or make you an expert, however it will help market your own brand and illustrate your background. Most importantly, it may give you the confidence to succeed. What are you waiting for? Visit the IBM certification website today and find your path forward!