IT Certification and Training

April 15, 2008

New Certifications from Novell

Filed under: certification, Novell — Jim Henderson @ 14:37

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a month since BrainShare 2008 – and yet, here we are, in the middle of April.

At BrainShare, we offered exams for a total of four new certifications – the CLA,, the CLDA, the NCA, and the NCE-ES. In this post, I want to give you my (unofficial) perspective on these four certifications.

The first certification – the Certified Linux Administrator (CLA) – is an entry-level Linux certification based on Novell courses 3071 and 3072. The exam is what we call a “traditional” or “forms-based” exam.

(As an aside: Forms-based exams are useful for determining what a cert candidate knows, but not necessarily what they can do. The way I see it, there is a distinction between knowing and doing (and I think most would agree with that), but there is value in testing both capabilities when it comes to certifications. If you can do something but it takes a while for you to figure out what it is you need to do, or if you need to reference a book in order to do a task properly, that shows a lack of knowledge. Yes, you eventually will get there, but if you know the information you can perform the task more quickly. Testing for knowledge is an extremely valuable tool.

At the same time, knowledge alone isn’t sufficient in the real world – if you know the command-line parameters for the find command in Linux but can’t effectively use the tool to accomplish a task, you’ve demonstrated that you can successfully memorize facts, but there’s no test for applying the knowledge to the real world.)

The CLA is a test designed to let the candidate demonstrate knowledge, not skills. The primary focus is to let people know that Linux isn’t hard – that’s a myth. It’s just different than what they may be used to (NetWare, Windows, Mac, etc).

The Novell Certified LInux Desktop Administrator (CLDA) is based on a single course – course 3086 – and is intended to be taken by candidates looking to learn how to administer Linux desktops. It focuses on the sorts of things that users find important – software management, printer configuration, desktop configuration, and usage. The exam for the CLDA is also a traditional forms-based exam.

The Novell Certified Administrator (NCA) is an introduction to Novell services. Some who have looked at this want to equate it to the Certified Novell Administrator (or Certified NetWare Administrator, for those who have been around Novell long enough), but the goals of the NCA are quite different than the goals of the CNA. The CNA focused on administration tasks around the NetWare operating system – use of the management tools for NetWare to manage the platform.

The NCA is quite a bit broader, as Novell’s product portfolio has expanded since the CNA was developed. The NCA thus focuses on a wider range of products, but with fairly shallow knowledge in each (after all, it is a 5-day course; how much depth can get for 4 or 5 complex products in that time period?). The idea of course 2000 (and the NCA) is to give candidates a taste for what Novell’s product line consists of and the sorts of things the products can do. As with the other’s we have discussed so far, this is also a forms-based exam.

Lastly, we have the Novell Certified Engineer – Enterprise Services (NCE-ES). This is the first of the NCE certifications, and is based around Novell Open Enterprise Server 2, with a particular focus on the Linux version of the product. This certification focuses on doing rather than on knowing, so the exam is a practical examination delivered using Novell’s practicum technology.

NCE-ES is a logical progression for traditional CNE candidates coming from a CNE6 or CNE-OES background, Stay tuned for information about other NCE tracks that are being developed.

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