IT Certification and Training

April 26, 2007

New Novell Certifications

Filed under: kearns, netware, Novell — Jim Henderson @ 21:59

Last September, prior to the conclusion of his Novell NetWare Tips newsletter, my friend Dave Kearns concluded an article on the CNE6 certification with:

So, yes, go for that upgrade to CNE 6. Training is never a bad thing, but training on a system that is still an excellent server operating system, still has a good sized installed base and appears to have a shortage of trained managers sounds like a good career move.

Dave couldn’t have gotten it more right, partly in terms of training being a good thing, but also in ways he wasn’t aware of at the time. Ultimately one question on many people’s minds at BrainShare this year was whether or not there was a future path forward for those holding a CNE6.

The answer to that was revealed at BrainShare during one of the keynotes: Yes!

The certifications team at Novell has been working hard for the past several months on defining what that path is, and what it should be. Our approach has been to ask those who do the job what the job entails. Through a series of Job Task Analyses (JTAs), we’ve been doing research for where the path should go.

We reached a couple of conclusions as a result of our questions and study: Upgrading the CNE to cover NetWare 6.5 would be a good thing (especially since the courses were nearly completed), and we should extend our certification path to cover where the product is going – to Linux.

One of the most frequent comments during the JTA process was that Linux is interesting, but the people looking to move from the NetWare kernel to the Linux kernel needed to understand how the traditional NetWare services (which is what they provide to their end users) work in a Linux environment. We had had a couple of courses that hit this at a high level (both 3059 – Deploying Novell Open Enterprise Server and 3077 – Integrating Novell Open Enterprise Server for Linux), but there wasn’t enough in those classes to take someone with NetWare experience into a comfort zone where they could manage those traditional NetWare services running on OES on Linux. The Novell Certified Linux Professional and Novell Certified Linux Engineer certifications are all about Linux, but don’t talk at all about traditional Novell services running on Linux, so those certifications don’t get you to where you need to be if you’re integrating OES on Linux into your existing environment.

Based on that feedback, we’ve put together a path forward – the Novell Certified Engineer, or NCE.

I can already hear you asking: Why does it have a new name?

Let me give you my personal thoughts on this – thoughts I expressed during the decision making process. Over the years, Novell has used the same acronyms for a number of different things – those of you who know Novell products well, tell me what the following acronyms mean: NTS, NLS, and CNE.

Here’s what I recall:

  • NTS: Novell Technical Services, Novell Technical Support, Novell Training Services
  • NLS: National Language Support, Novell Licensing Services
  • CNE: Certified NeWare Engineer, Certified Novell Engineer

I’m sure you can see a pattern – and I know there are more definitions than the ones given for these acronyms. I believe at one point, there were 5 concurrent meanings for NLS alone within Novell, and which one was being used was dependent on the context in which it was used.

The last one in particular is significant, though: CNE was the Certified NetWare Engineer abbreviation, and even today, when most people think CNE they think NetWare, not Novell. And why shouldn’t they? The certification has been a NetWare-centric certification forever.

This new certification builds on the existing NetWare knowledge (CNE6 is a prerequisite), but by changing the letters up a little bit, we accomplish a couple of things:

  1. We remove the ambiguity about it meaning NetWare by virtue of the fact that NCE has never been a NetWare certification – because it never existed before.
  2. We fall in line with a fairly common practice in the industry: MCT is “Microsoft Certified Trainer”, CCNA is “Cisco Certified Network Associate” – ie, the vendor name is first in the certification name. I don’t know that anyone has stated this is the way it has to be, but it is a fairly common practice, and when it comes to branding, the vendor name should be part of the certification name (it is, in fact, with the CLP and CLE – officially, those are the “Novell CLP” and “Novell CLE” with the version number afterwards)

The courses for the NCE are soon to be developed – we expect to have them later in the year; rather than build this new certification to the current release of Open Enterprise Server, we’re building it to Open Enterprise Server 2, which is due to ship in the near future – it doesn’t make sense to develop a new certification to a product that’s going to be replaced fairly soon. We’ll develop to released code, which we always do (things change from beta to release, and we want to make sure the final product reflects the shipping product rather than a pre-release product).

Information on the NCE is available on the NCE Certification Page. You’ll note that the NCE is largely a framework – the page talks about “Enterprise Services” and includes a link to the NCE – Enterprise Services certification roadmap, but you may also notice that we’ve put a couple of teasers about where we’re going on the page as well.

The intention with NCE is that this is a framework under which we can build other related certifications; this is the reason it’s taken us a while to reach the point we’re currently at – we decided that it was necessary to revamp how we frame certifications and to build a more consistent model in which we can fit other needed certifications as well.

There’s much more to come. As I stated in the opening of this post, Dave got it right, but he had no idea when he wrote what he did in September how right he was.

In my next post, I’ll touch on another certification we announced at BrainShare – the Novell Certified Linux Desktop Administrator.

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