Let me start by saying I am a big NetApp fan, and I love waving my flag as a member of NetApp United, NetApp’s global influencer program.


As a NetApp Technical Consultant at ALSO Schweiz AG, a NetApp Distributor partner, I have worked with nearly every major product in the portfolio, helping customers and partners use the NetApp Data Fabric to solve their toughest IT challenges. I especially love NetApp’s cloud and flash products, specifically, SolidFire. I’m always eager to learn more about the next big innovations that NetApp has in store. Throughout my career, I’ve made learning about NetApp and its technologies a priority. I’ve been inspired by many NetApp trainers like Nando “The Brainwasher” Gorsatt, who have also helped me on my journey from being a student of NetApp to becoming a trainer and joining NetApp United in 2018. NetApp United gives me a great platform to share my insights with a global audience, with a huge network of other NetApp fans, and with experts that I can work with to grow my career and expand my knowledge. So when the opportunity from NetApp United came up to participate in the Item Development Workshop (IDW) for the new Hybrid Cloud Administrator certification exam (NS0-300) with fellow member Andre Schmitz, I couldn’t pass it up.


The IDW is a multi-day event hosted by NetApp University at the company’s headquarters in Sunnyvale, California. We were in a big conference room right next to NetApp’s Data Visionary Center (DVC), which is incredible! If you get the chance next time you’re in the area, be sure to check it out! The IDW brings NetApp’s hybrid cloud experts from across the company together with several key customers and partners. Our mission was to design the exam for the new Hybrid Cloud Administrator certification. It was an unforgettable experience. I would like to thank everyone involved in organising this workshop, and I hope that I will get more opportunities in the future to contribute my knowledge to the NetApp community.


I’ve done many “Train the Trainer” courses with NetAppU in the past, but the IDW was on another level. The amount of rigor and attention to detail that NetApp puts into creating an exam is staggering. Over the course of 5 days, we were challenged to come up with 12 questions for the exam, each from a different section of the test. Having taken many NetApp exams in the past, I’ll say that while passing an exam is no easy feat, writing one is even more difficult. Coming up with not only a challenging question, but also the answers that go with it, was way harder than I thought it would be. I pushed myself to the limit to come up with 13 questions. Out of those 13 questions, 6 were directly approved, 6 needed modification, and 1 got refused because it was too easy. Not bad for my first time!


One of the really exciting aspects of the IDW is the question review process. Each question that gets submitted is reviewed by the group. We critique the question while making sure it is clear, concise, and relevant. Because each question is multiple choice, not only does the question have to be good, the answers have to be challenging. The verbiage should readable by a teenager, and easily understandable by non-native English speakers. The test should be written so that an aspiring NetApp Hybrid Cloud Administrator can pass the exam on the first or second attempt. You can find another insider’s view of the IDW in this blog by Andre Schmitz. Upon the completion of the workshop, we were all awarded the title of Subject Matter Expert (SME). I’m very proud to be a member of this prestigious team.


So why bother with putting all this work into making a challenging exam? It’s all about the value. NetApp certifications demonstrate to your employer, your customers, and your peers that you know what you’re doing. By making sure each and every question in that exam is rigorous and thoughtful, NetAppU and its team of SMEs like myself are ensuring that those certifications maintain their proven value.


At Insight 2016 in Berlin, Dave Hitz said, “Don’t fight the cloud. Don’t fear the cloud,” and he was absolutely right. The possibilities with NetApp and the Data Fabric ecosystem are incredible. NetApp really understands how to work with the big hyperscalers to keep your data secure. It doesn’t matter if you manage your data on-premises or in a cloud provider like Azure, AWS, or Google, NetApp gives you the tools to manage your data easily and securely across your environment (for example, creating a mirror between your AFF A300 and NetApp Cloud Volumes at Microsoft Azure). This is why it is important for you to get certified as a Hybrid Cloud Administrator. Cloud is here to stay, and it’s only a matter of time until it becomes a universal commodity. By proving your knowledge as a certified hybrid cloud admin, you will stand out and demonstrate to your customers that you can confidently manage complex environments with integrations into different hyperscalers.


Insight is the most important technical conference for NetApp worldwide. For me, it’s the best chance I have all year to get in touch with NetApp influencers from around the world, including the folks behind the scenes at NetAppU. I get to connect with my fellow NetApp United members and the NetApp A-Team! I get to listen to NetApp legends like Dave Hitz and Matt Watts and learn more about the future of data management. There are plenty of sessions, and the Hands-On Labs give me the opportunity to try all the new products that NetApp has available. Insight is a great opportunity to try something new, and I’m looking forward to challenging myself with the dedicated DevOps track this year.


If you’re thinking about picking up a few more NetApp certifications, there’s no better place to do it than at NetApp Insight. You can take certification exams right at the conference, free with the cost of admission, unlike many other conferences in the industry. Be one of the first in your field to get certified as a NetApp Hybrid Cloud Administrator at Insight 2018. Sign up today, and maybe I’ll see you in Barcelona!

Stefan Assler

Stefan is a NetApp Technical Consultant at ALSO Schweiz AG, a NetApp Distributor partner. He helps customers and partners design innovative solutions that solve their toughest technical challenges using the NetApp Data Fabric and hybrid cloud solutions.

In his spare time, Stefan loves to travel, and has been to many exotic locales like Taiwan and the Philippines, as well as the United States and several countries across Europe. Stefan is also a diehard FC Bayern Munich fan, and is a regular attendee at the Allianz Arena during the football season. When he’s not out talking about NetApp, Stefan enjoys playing basketball and badminton, or just enjoying the Swiss countryside with his wife.

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