I had lunch today with an old friend who, like many people here in Round Rock, Texas, makes his living working with Dell. He's currently attached to a high-visibility group in the company's SonicWALL division, and splits his time between teaching SonicWALL certification classes and building "proof of concept" customer models, where customers come to see their data running on mock-up networks built around Dell servers, switches, and SonicWALL network infrastructure components.
I have to confess right now that I've been a fan of SonicWALL products for some time now -- well before their acquisition by Dell earlier this year. That's about the same time I wrote a mini-book for Wiley entitled UTM For Dummies (where UTM stands for Unified Threat Management, the combination of firewall, malware filtering, content protection, and other security technologies that passes for state-of-the-art network boundary security these days). And while that book focused on Fortinet's excellent FortiGate and related UTM tools and technologies, it also gave me cause to dig in and learn what SonicWALL was up to.
In mid-July I posted an IT Career JumpStart blog entitled "Dell Quietly Adds to SonicWALL Cert Program," wherein I laid out the outlines for its new Certified SonicWALL Security Professional or CSSP credential. This builds upon the entry-level Certified SonicWALL System Administrator or CSSA credential. I'm pretty sure these two credentials will soon be augmented by other SonicWALL certifications as customer demand for these security solutions are skyrocketing at the moment. The recent (March 2012) Gartner report "The Magic Quadrant for Unified Threat Management" puts SonicWALL in the number two position in that selfsame quadrant for UTM (behind only Fortinet, as luck and fate would have it).
There's a lot of interesting technology to work with -- and like -- in the SonicWALL TZ and NSA product families, so interested or aspiring information and network security professionals may want to consider adding SonicWALL expertise to their bag of tricks. I'd put SonicWALL certification on par with that from Cisco and CheckPoint, and rate their training materials and approaches at least on par with any of the other players in this space (many of whom offer training to customers and partners, but no certification credentials). Though the training will cost you about $1,000 per classroom day, the exams are included (and administered) at the end of each class. Those who pass the exam also get a "free" low-end SonicWALL UTM device to take home (with free update support as long as the cert is kept current). This is an enlightened and useful way to keep certified professionals' skills and knwledge fresh for relevant tools and technologies. I wish more of the vendors in this space would follow suit!