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One of the first Master ASE Converged Infrastructure Architects on certification


This week at HP DISCOVER, we’re honoring our first “class” of HP Master ASE – Converged Infrastructure Architects. But before the certification officially existed, we had a beta program in which we tested the training, the proctored exam, and the board review exam. HP presales consultant Russ Wagner was one of our beta testers, and I caught up with him the other day to ask him about his experience in trying out the new certification.


Russ is part of the Solutions Architect team for HP in North America. His job is to talk to the executive ranks of HP customers about their enterprise architecture and how HP can help them transform their IT operations toward cloud computing. He has held his current position for about two years, but he has more than 25 years of experience in the IT field.


Given his role and his experience level, he is an ideal candidate for the Converged Infrastructure Architect certification—and that’s precisely why we asked him to beta test our new Architect level certification process. You see, this is the first time HP has used a board review process to evaluate a candidate’s expertise, and we wanted to make sure we have it right.


Russ told me there were two reasons why he was personally interested in the Converged Infrastructure Architect certification. First, he wanted to solidify his professional pedigree—to show that he has proven himself in a program that recognizes quality skills and knowledge. He says the “master” word in the certification’s title is very important in the technology field. His customers can see he has reached the pinnacle of his profession.


The second reason he wanted to earn the certification was to keep his HP training current and accurate and aligned with where the company is going. As a presales consultant representing Hewlett-Packard, Russ says it’s important that he show channel partners that HP employees value this certification. He is leading by example.


You may have heard about the HP Converged Infrastructure Maturity Model. We call it CI MM. It’s a model that helps a company assess its current and desired future state of its data center. Russ helped develop some of the training for this maturity model. When he attended his annual sales conference last year and saw that the ExpertONE team was beta testing the training for the Converged Infrastructure Architect certification, he thought he’d audit the course and see what value it has to offer. Turns out he got a lot out of sitting in on that course. He told me it was “essential for his professional development.”  This comes from a guy that helped develop CI training for others. If he found the ExpertONE course to be so valuable, that tells me we packed some really good stuff into our certification training.


To prepare for the CI Architect board review exam, Russ reviewed the materials from our course as well as materials he had used with customers when he was doing CI MM engagements. This little bit of preparation – combined with his actual field experience – gave him the confidence to head into the board review exam.


Here are his exact words about the board review: “It replicated the customer experience so well that I actually got lost in the experience, feeling like I was actually standing in front of customers giving a customer briefing. I had to remind myself that these people were my peers and associates and not real customers.” Now, it makes my heart soar to hear that. It tells me that those of us who built the certification process really got it right.


I asked Russ what advice he might offer to future candidates for the Master ASE – Converged Infrastructure Architect certification and he offered up a few tips:


  • Come into the board review process with the perspective of offering a business solution for the customer and not a product pitch or roadmap. You need to analyze the case study to understand the challenge the customer is facing and how this can be addressed with a comprehensive solution.


  • Understand that the members of the review board aren’t going to interact with you like a real customer would. The review process has to be standard for every candidate that goes through the process, so the judges aren’t going to guide the candidate toward a right answer. The judges’ stoicism is different from a real customer environment, but it’s a necessary part of the judgment process.


Russ now carries the title of Master ASE – Converged Infrastructure Architect. Modest guy that he is, he has just started promoting himself with that title. He said it’s important that customers know the caliber of his expertise when he begins an engagement with them.


Wouldn’t you, too, like to hold this title to prove your professional pedigree? Learn more about it at


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