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One of the criticisms VARs, resellers, IT
consultants and solution providers level against certifications and their
declining value
is the lack of hands-on training in many cases.

When training is only Web-based, how can the trainees get a feel for real-life
situations? They are just paper, say many solution providers.  That’s why
the certifications that still
hold the most value
are those that both recognize hands-on training and
require some length of experience in the field.

HP is no stranger to certifications, technology training and what makes them
hold value.  With those lessons in mind, the IT giant recently held two
training events in Colorado Springs, Colo.—HP
PartnerTRAIN (Technology Readiness and Information Network) and the HP
Certified Professional Master ASE (Accredited
Sales Engineer) Storage Summit.

"It’s our way of helping partners reduce the amount of investment they
have to make in training," said Todd Owens, director of HP’s certification
and education programs for its solutions partner organization. "We take
all our training resources, put them in one place, and that enables us to
compress the learning modules and time students need to go through, and allows
us to offer more hands-on experience with equipment."

HP’s PartnerTRAIN event in Colorado Springs
offered technical certification training as well as curriculum designed to help
sales representatives or new hires engage with customers.

here to read about HP’s free on-site sales training for SMB VARs

Certification training can help partners earn HP’s Elite Partner status.

"Certification gives us the ability to identify partners who truly have
the skills to represent our products to customers as we would do it
ourselves," said Owens. "If we just throw a bunch of Web-based
training out there and hope they take it, I don’t feel like I can assure the
customer that they will get the best experience."

The Elite Certification also holds some valuable benefits for partners. For
example, Owens said, the Master ASE Storage
certification holders in town for the summit had the opportunity to meet with
HP’s engineers one-on-one. That also offers benefits to HP.

here for five reasons why IT certifications still matter

"This way the engineers get a real-world spin on what their products
are actually doing," said Owens. "It’s a very interactive session. …
These are the highest regarded technical minds out there in the channel for

PartnerTRAIN is one way HP is working to cut down on partner costs for training
and certification—by putting it all in one place to make it easier for
partners.  Another way, Owens said, is by offering more Web-based

"How can I make it more economical for them to get trained? I’m not going
to skimp on the knowledge and skill it takes to get trained. But what I can try
to do is make it as easy as possible for partners to get access to material
through Web-based training and virtual labs."

Owens said that HP is seeing more demand from partners for Web-based training.
And while it may not be for everyone, it helps.

HP is also talking to partners about creating remote demo capabilities.

"How cool would it be to dial in on a private network and work on HP gear?
We are not quite there yet, but we are looking at those kinds of things,"
Owens said.