Newest of Technology Rip-Offs!
Has the certification game become just that? A
renewable gouge for Hardware & Software Vendors?
Companies may have to spend money they consider a waste and suffer
lost worker time to re-certify their network staffs as a result of
changes Novell and Microsoft have recently made to their
Novell announced that all Certified Novell Engineers (CNE) will
lose their certification unless they become trained on NetWare 5
by the end of August 2000. Microsoft will revoke the certification
of its Certified Systems Engineers (MCSE) in December 2001 unless
they re-certify on Windows 2000.
The issue may prove particularly nettlesome in shops that have
no foreseeable plans to move to Windows 2000 or NetWare 5.
"Why should their staffs need Windows 2000 certification to
maintain their MCSE?" asks Dave Kinnaman, a network
consultant in Seattle who also writes MCSE study guides. The same
is true for NetWare, he says. At present, 90% of Novell's
installations are NetWare 3 or 4, and Win 2000 won't ship until
February of this year.
"Saying MCSEs are no longer qualified for their work is a
foolish marketing based exaggeration," Kinnaman says.
"They are still quite qualified for the Windows NT 4.0
and 5.0 work in their companies." The differences in
5.0 are so obvious because of a super user friendly interface that
re-certification is really an exercise in redundancy.
The cost of obtaining a MCSE is steep, running from $5,000 to
$10,000 for six to seven weeks of classes. If a person elects to
become certified through self-study, the investment can be as
little as $1,000. For a company that offers tuition reimbursement,
the cost of re-certification can be as much as $2,000 per network
While the certification changes are causing a fuss in some
circles, other network managers see the changes - and the programs
themselves - as much ado about nothing. Some net professionals say
that while continuing education is important, it's not mandatory
for them to have or to keep their current jobs, although they
aren't anxious to let their certifications lapse. Their bosses
apparently agree, saying they'd rather hire staff with documented
work experience as opposed to certification, and they will provide
training in specialized areas such as Cisco routers, Linux or
"It's just a bunch of letters," says Mark Labow, a
network engineer at Skadden Arps, a large law firm in New York.
Labow is Microsoft, Novell and Cisco certified. "When you
interview a person, just because he has a certificate doesn't mean
he knows anything. It means he has certain base knowledge, but
after a point, you need to be sure he can apply it," says
Clarence Ng, network manager at the firm.
"Certification is an added plus, but we are more concerned
with hands-on experience that can be proven through work
history," says Chuck Yoke, manager of technology architecture
for Janus, a Denver-based mutual fund company.
IS managers also say that hiring network professionals has
changed in the past few years. Now CNE and MCSE certifications
don't have the cachet they once had because almost everyone is
getting them. Novell, for instance, has 168,000 CNEs and Master
CNEs. A glut of MCSEs is also occurring, Yoke says.
"Instead of being flooded with paper CNEs, now we have the
same thing with paper MCSEs. They go to a boot camp for two weeks,
cram and get their MCSE, and they come and sit down and have no
idea how to really troubleshoot a file server," he says. Yoke
would rather hire someone with Cisco certification or experience
working with Cisco routers.
Cisco certification, according to Mike Prince, chief
information officer at Burlington Coat Factory, is very
broad-based training that requires knowledge of the multi-vendor
network infrastructure. Prince is also looking into Linux
certification for his staff.
Steve Lopez, director of systems and technology at the National
Board of Medical Examiners, looks for more than practical
experience. Certification is a plus, he says, but only as an
indication that the person sought and achieved certain knowledge.
"Certification is still a factor at review time," Lopez