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Is a partnership certification worth the money? Part IV: Storage

A vendor's stamp of approval could expand your exposure and sales; or it could cost training money and give you nothing more than a stamp for your Web site.

Click here for Part I: Is a partnership certification worth the money?

Developers of storage and availability products also offer certifications to solution providers and independent developers.

Ensuring interoperability between the components of a storage solution is integral to customer satisfaction, said George Mower, manager of storage marketing for IBM Corp.'s System Storage Proven program.

The company offers a variety of options for partners to apply for this certification: Through self-testing, customer product sites or IBM Innovation Centers for Business. These 22 centers around the world give partners the opportunity to test their solutions, using IBM's latest products and technologies.

More on certifications:
Well? Is it?
Part II: Networking Certifications
Part III: Security Certifications
Part IV: Storage Certifications
Part V: Systems Certifications

"We don't actually test for them," said Mower. "We give them to infrastructure to test on. We validate their documentation. I'd say 90% of [applicants] choose to come to the location."

The benefit? "The bottom line is the customer," he said. "The customer wants to know: 'Does your stuff work with IBM stuff?' They won't even get in the customer's door without certification."

Within a year, IBM has certified more than 1,000 products by 300 companies. Centers typically are booked up to three months in advance, said Mower.

"It's free, other than travel," he said. "It's one of the best-kept secrets. People who have used this come back. They spend their own money [to get there]. To me, that says a lot."

To apply for testing, a candidate's solution must complement existing IBM storage products. The partner must be registered, and provide a solution entry and submit a nomination form, said Mower. Once certified, the solution is listed as-such and data is made available to other partners.

"This gives resellers a toolkit to take out and help solve customers' needs," he said. "The reseller and the customer are really our customers here."

The upshot? Storage and, especially, backup-and-recovery, aren't particularly delicate technologies, but they are unforgiving of mistakes, as are the customers who pay for them. It only takes one emergency recovery attempt using corrupted or missing data to ruin a relationship and, potentially, a VAR's reputation.

Even if the marketing potential of a certification seems low, the practical impact of a knowledgeable staff is greater in storage than perhaps any specialty other than security.

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