The Aruba Certified Solutions Professional (ACSP) curriculum combines information on wireless LAN design and management, mobile device troubleshooting, authentication and wireless network access security.
"There's a big push for wireless but a [knowledge] gap around customers, so when customers do approach our channel partners, our partners can say, 'Yes, we can help you migrate from your probably wired network to a ubiquitous wireless network,'" said Chris Leach, director of technical training at Aruba.
Leach said Aruba saw an opportunity because no other program exists that specifically teaches about authentication servers, digitals certificates, security policies, network infrastructure and managing clients. Other trainings mainly focus on specific products and not on successfully implementing a wireless mobile network.
"Every other vendor does the same thing -- they focus on how to use their products. But when you look at modern mobility networks, there's a lot of moving parts that go together. It's not just one vendor's product," Leach said.
Mobility certification reaches across vendor technology
Because the ACSP certification program addresses various parts of the mobility ecosystem, by nature the program must stretch across technology from various vendors.
Participants use Aruba technology to do lab work, but they also study Microsoft authentication, management of Android and iOS devices, as well as a number of different phone vendors.
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"There's a total of 60 hours of classroom time for the certification. We deliver it via distance learning, so a student will receive a remote access point from Aruba that will allow them to securely connect to a remote lab. There are three classes, twenty hours each, broken into five, four-hour days. They'll be on a webinar type of scenario where we will have a live Aruba instructor walking them through the lecture and slides. Then they will connect to the remote lab to the hands-on pieces," Leach said.
By conducting the technical certification program this way, managers still get use out of engineers, as they aren't physically gone for a lengthy amount of time, and there are no travel costs. Each class lists for $1,500.
Aruba's mobility certification offers ongoing partner support
Aruba also provides ongoing support for participants who have completed the program and a way for participants to keep their certifications up-to-date without having to go through the entire process again. The Aruba Airheads Community is made up of networking experts who come together online and in-person to collaborate on implementation and management best practices, as well as ongoing use of mobile access networks.
"Once you go through the certification, additional content will be posted on Airhead Social. You will get credits for being active in the community, posting, for watching videos and being involved in discussions. Once you have enough credits, then you will be recertified for another period," Leach added.
Over time, Aruba will fold the updates made in the Airhead community into the curriculum.
Establishing a BYOD practice
Ultimately, one goal of Aruba's new certification is to help partners launch a BYOD services portfolio.
"It's hard to find someone who knows the different expertise areas around mobile security, devices and wireless. Bringing that together is a unique skill set and offers value creation," said Ben Gibson, Aruba's chief marketing officer.
For technology solutions provider and Aruba partner Carousel Industries, which has been offering mobility services for some time, enrolling with Aruba helped them cope in a world of changing mobile devices.
"There is still that learning curve because of how quickly the market is changing -- from a consumer perspective, not just from an enterprise perspective," said Dave Iannacone, network engineer at Carousel.
With Aruba's program, Carousel has found that its network engineers are better prepared when going to customers, which enables a faster and seamless implementation.
"By going through this program, we are becoming much more knowledgeable and functional, with the ability to focus on specific things for a customer's network. We're getting in there and installing quicker and are on-site less," Iannacone said.
Layer 3 Communications, also an Aruba partner and participant in the technical certification program, finds the information Aruba provides to be vital when going to customers, and also the products and support to be just as essential.
"I have zero reservations when recommending their products [to customers] as far as the product performance side, as well as the support side. Their training is very detailed and not just broad stroke. It's specific to what you're trying to learn," said Chris L. Watson, systems engineer with Layer 3 Communications.
Aruba's technical certification program helps the future of selling mobility services
As the mobility trend evolves, so will Aruba's technical certification program, to ensure that partners and participants are regularly on the edge of new information and technologies.
"Aruba plans on releasing new parts of this program throughout the year. They are consistently re-evaluating the market and the training that's needed," said Iannacone.
As partners continue to become certified through its program, Aruba will see ongoing and future benefits for the company as well. "If we can’t get engineers trained on all this, it's going to hamper Aruba's ability to grow. The more people we can teach about this, especially our channel partners, they can offer this entire end-to-end solution to their customers, which in turn helps us sell more products," Leach said.