Certified Mail

Reader Feedback: December 2003

Plenty to say about board certs; small tales enjoyed

Small Tales

I really enjoy the “Tales from the Trenches” articles. The magazine needed something that speaks to small companies like mine. Previously, most of the articles were about large, complicated domain structures spanning the globe and involving hundreds of servers, or reviews about $30,000 pieces of equipment our clients could never afford. These tales are the types of things I may run into on any given day, so I like to read about them.
—David Staples, MCSE, CCNA, CCA
Charlotte, North Carolina

Board Certification

Regarding Dian Schaffhauser’s “Editor’s Desk” column in the October issue, “Lab Experiments,” I think the board certification would be an excellent qualification for many reasons: The value of mainstream certifications is becoming weak due to a flood in the market. And many other industries require a board cert. I came from the sports medicine field where one of the premier certifications requires an oral, a written and a practical exam. This process helped to weed out those who couldn’t hack real world pressure and those who memorized questions and answers. If you passed one part, but not another, the option existed to retake the failed parts, retaining credit for the passed part for two years.
—James W. Rust, MCSE, MCDBA, MCSA
Marietta, Georgia

The process, as outlined by Bill Boswell, would go beyond simple skills verification. Appearance before the board would help in evaluating a candidate’s communication skills, while a paper submission would offer some insight into written communication abilities. As more grunt-work jobs are sent overseas, MCSEs will need to offer something more than just technical skills. The days of the surly, incommunicative systems administrator with little business acumen are gone. I welcome board certification for Microsoft, and I hope that it’ll become the norm in IT.
—Wayne Hiner, MCSE
Everett, Washington

The board certification is something that has to happen. It would weed out all the people that have taken the exams and are only regurgitating information from the braindumps and practice exams. I’ve worked with individuals who had every certification they could get, but when it came time to do the work, they couldn’t perform.
—Pat Butler, MCP, A+
Oak Ridge, Tennessee

A nuclear plant and workstation aren’t in the same universe. I realize that people could be made financially destitute from cracking, but the person’s very life can be threatened by improper nuclear operations. Regarding the actual process, I think a written test, a practical board review and a paper would be cost prohibitive, time prohibitive and so difficult to implement that the locations in which it could be accessed would be restricted. I agree that the certification program needs revision, but a written test and a practical would restore the value of the certifications, especially in a marketplace that requires recertification every couple of years.
—Christopher Foss, MCSA, Network+ A+
Minnetonka, Minnesota

I’d hope that in the oral part of the exam, the expert test givers would be board certified in the field. The panel of experts would obviously need a set of “canned” questions with available answers. Any serious IT person knows that there are many paths to a destination.
—Leroy Joseph, Jr., MCSE, MCDBA
Houston, Texas

This is one of the dumbest ideas ever. I’ve been an MCSE since the NT 3.51 days. If this flies, I will herd goats. Maybe they should include a singing contest and a swimsuit event.
—Doug Bassett, MCSE
Scottsdale, Arizona

This is idiotic. Let’s add more things to do—IT people have far too much disposable time. We clearly spend too little time chasing fixes and patches, performing revisions and upgrades, dealing with security and so on. Whether from a hatred of brain-dumpers or a desire to sell its own software, somebody here is looking to get an agenda accepted.
—Michael Flinn, MCSE
Cherry Hill, New Jersey

The average MCP has lost considerable earning power in the last few years, and jobs are being awarded to H-1B Visa holders at an alarming rate. In addition, our jobs are being exported offshore. So, am I willing to put out the time, effort and expense for this process? No! I’d prefer to keep my current Microsoft certifications and gain added experience in Unix, Linux and CISSP.
—Jeffrey B., MCSE
Orange County, California

Interesting, but a bit of overkill—especially if you have to keep upgrading to the new OS. Surely, completing the MCSE itself takes time. If each certification would follow this path, most people with multiple certs wouldn’t bother—not because they can’t meet the challenge, but because of the time constraints.
—Name withheld upon request
Alberta, Canada

The concept has some merit, but the logistics behind it would be a nightmare. Considering that IT certification has global scope, that level of objectivity would be extremely hard to maintain. A favorable argument, however, can be made for more practical/extensive simulations where one is given a set of tasks to complete—for instance, set up a DHCP or a RIS server—and the candidate accomplishes the desired results using whatever means. As long as the desired results are accomplished, the candidate passes.

Microsoft needs to raise the level of simulations a few notches. However, let’s not overestimate the amount of money candidates are willing to spend on a single-vendor certification.
—Bharat Sunej, MCT
Dublin, California

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