I’ve been asked by a few people over the last few weeks about the Netapp Certified Data Administrator certification, better known as the NCDA. I was only exposed to Netapp technology a few years ago so definitely don’t claim any real expertise – I don’t know if these requests are due to an increased demand for engineers with Netapp knowledge or whether I’ve just surrounded myself with like minded people pursuing similar goals. Hopefully both!
When I took my exams a couple of years ago I considered putting together a study guide as there wasn’t much available and it suits the way I learn new material. Hanging out on the Netapp forums I picked up quite a few hints and tips along with some great links to example questions, web based learning and some documents produced by Netapp which summarise the knowledge you need for the exams. I never found the time (or motivation if truth be told) to put together my own study notes but maybe there’s still enough demand to make a collection of resources useful. As always real world, hands on experience is invaluable but the below are worth your time;
NOTE: I took two exams (ns0-153 and ns0-163) whereas you can now take a single exam (ns0-154) instead which covers ONTAP 8 – 7 mode.
- The official Netapp study guide for ns0-154 – this is a great .PDF doc which forms the basis for study. Essential reading!
- Netapp Basic Concepts quickstarts guide
- Netapp Technical Reports
- Web based learning on High Availability (for ns0-163). I believe this used to be free online (I took one course which was very helpful for the exams) but is now one training unit (or around $150). It’s only 110 mins so it’s a bit harsh to charge!
- Take the sample exams at Netapp’s site. They’re pretty basic and only offer 20 (always identical) questions but better than nothing – ns0-153, ns0-163, or ns0-154
- Fast Lane also offers some test questions
- Netapp’s YouTube channel
- Brendan Higgins has a done a good blogpost on NCIE study materials but much of it is relevant to the NCDA
- Greg Porter has a good overview
- The Netapp SysAdmin guide (354 pages!)
- If you don’t have Netapp’s that you use on a day to day basis then get the Netapp Simulator. This lets you gain ‘real world’ experience as it runs the same ONTAP as the real controllers (just with performance and capacity restraints). Unfortunately you need to be a Netapp customer to download it.
In terms of difficulty the NCDA is an entry level exam – I’d put these exams nearer the VCP standard than the VCAP, more like an MCP than an MCSE. They’re multiple choice and while some questions require enterprise design knowledge (I got one on Metrocluster cabling) most are much more basic. Like the Cisco exams your certification expires after two years so I should be retaking the exams if I want to stay current but as not much has changed (ONTAP v8 is out but running in cluster mode means it’s almost the same as v7) it would be a paper exercise only and hence not worth it. Besides there’s SRM, vSphere5, vCD 1.5, Chef, Puppet and more to learn should I find any free time…