Splunk Makes Me Do PDA…The SE1 Certification Process

by Cory “The Big Data Beard” Minton

Hey HR – don’t freak out…PDA is Pitch Demo Architect in this case.  Not sure what you were thinking…anyways.

You have probably heard me speak proudly about the EMC Splunk Ninja team before and part of what makes that team great is their commitment to learning skills and technologies beyond what their day job requires then sharing that knowledge with others, both inside EMC and with our customers, partners, and anyone who will listen.  This team was given a very prescribed path for learning because Splunk has a proven, well designed process for quickly ramping a technologist’s skills in Splunk.  Instead of reinventing the wheel, we followed their process…and I, as a leader of the team, am not exempt from this process (although it sure took me a lot longer than I planned to knock it out, but hey, it’s done and I am on to the next one).

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There are 3 levels of SE certification at Splunk…most of the EMC Splunk Ninjas are at Level 1 and some have achieved 2 and 3 already (mostly because they are awesome and I want to be like them when I grow up):

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To achieve SE level one, you must complete the following:

I really enjoyed this process because it mixed traditional eLearning with practical application for that knowledge in two forms…one in a pitch and one in a demo (for those of you who know me, I believe SEs should be pro’s at PDA, not the gross affection version you thought I was going to talk about, but Pitch Demo Architect).

Although most of the EMC Ninjas already completed their certification, I thought I would share the materials I used to successfully pass SE1 in hopes that it might help one of you through this really exciting process.

Now I can’t take the classes for you, but let me give you a word of advice:

Start each class in a time when you can knock it out in reasonably quick succession.  If you take over a month to complete the course, the process to regain access is a pain (don’t judge, I’ve been busy).

For the presentation part of this process, you have the option to either present live to a Splunk proctor or you can submit a video of you giving a Splunk pitch, if you think it covers the key criteria they are looking for in this demo.  I opted for the video as I had done a EMC and Splunk jointly sponsored session earlier in the year with a bunch of Splunk folks in the room who said it would probably work…so that what I did here.

For my demo, I prepared a script to help sort out my thoughts and it’s available for you here:

This is the demo…my favorite part is the very end.  I was not aware that the Splunk proctor reviewing your demo is not allowed to give any feedback, so when we ended the role play and he just hung up, I was a little confused and you can hear it.

 

In the interest of total transparency, here is the feedback I got on the demo so you can learn what I did well and what I should have done differently:

Scoring Details:

Score:  91%
5/5 Controlled the Meeting
5/5 Machine Data
4/5 Differentiators
4/5 Platform/Enterprise Solution
5/5 Feature Benefits
4/5 Business Value/Use & Proof
5/5 Presentation Skills

General Comments:
•    Good job setting expectations and goals, role playing, and using demo materials as a discussion tool.
•    Good job describing why machine data matters, making data actionable, highlighting time-series nature of machine data, and data as record of behaviors and patterns.
•    Mentioned several differentiators at the start of the meeting, but only mentioned agile reporting and analytics during the course of the demo.
o    Recommendation: Highlight differentiators at appropriate times during the demo for emphasis.
•    Good job positioning Splunk as a platform/enterprise solution, more than a search engine, benefits of data in one place, and numerous features.
o    Recommendation: Position Splunk as a multi use-case solution and describe the value of the developer platform.
•    Excellent job illustrating SPRAD features accurately, illustrating exploration and filtering of data, and highlighting value and flexibility of visualizations.
•    Good job relating feature benefits to customer’s business problem and highlighting ability to use data to make business decisions.
o    Recommendation: Include customer success stories and metrics to support value, share customer anecdotes that make demo relatable, and/or share relatable personal examples of having used Splunk as a customer to support business value.
•    Excellent presentation skills.

All in all, I learned a ton and feel like Splunk can be confident that I can deliver their basic messaging and demo effectively because their process is pretty darn sound.  Watch out EMCers, I am totally bringing this concept of presentation and demo validation to our certification processes if I can…I love PDA!!!

Your certified and bearded friend,

Cory