If you’re reading this, you’re almost certainly an Orion user or a potential Orion user. But are you a SolarWinds Certified Professional (SCP)? Probably not. At least not yet. Should you be? I think you should. Here’s why:
Engineers can be a cynical lot, so some of you are probably thinking we created the SCP program to make money. Hardly. It’s $150 for you to take the exam, and by the time we’ve paid for the overhead involved in administering the test, we don’t really make anything. If we want to make money, we sell software. No one gets rich giving exams.
Our real goal with SCP was to create some recognition for our customers. Our customers manage networks, and they make the investment in Orion because they want to be good at managing networks. What’s the use of deploying a bunch of hardware if there’s no one with the skill to keep it running well? We observed that there are certifications to demonstrate that someone understands the network hardware and IOS, but before SCP there was no program to demonstrate that someone was a top-notch network manager. That’s the problem we were trying to solve. We created SCP to provide some external validation for our customers’ skills. It’s not exactly altruistic—external validation of your skills also highlights the value of our products. Hopefully, it’s a formula that serves all of us. With these goals in mind, we created a test that highlights both network management knowledge and Orion product knowledge.
The next question we usually get is whether SCP really proves anything. Well, SCP isn’t simple to pass. It certainly wasn’t simple to create. We (the PMs, the Head Geek, some veteran Support folks, and a few other network-y folks) spent weeks working with testing professionals to ensure that random jokers can’t just walk in and pass the test. It requires study and concerted effort. To pass it, you really need to know a lot about managing a network, and you need to know quite a bit about using Orion to do so. But that effort will prove to your current boss and, just as importantly, to your next boss that you know what you’re doing.
If you’re not sure you have the skills the pass, then maybe signing up for the SCP is just the motivation you need to get down to your fighting weight, if you know what I mean. After you pass the exam, you’ll have SCP certification, but you’ll also know Orion that much better and you’ll probably learn something new about how to troubleshoot a network problem.
That’s the story behind the SCP. If you want to prove what a bad-#$* engineer you are, the only alternative I can think of is to get a big tattoo of the SolarWinds logo somewhere that current and potential bosses can’t possibly miss. SCP’s a little more conventional, though, and less likely to draw fire from your spouse or partner.