The Need for an Integration Certification

There's a certification program for practically every skill out there -- so why not for intergration? Emmett analyzes author Warren Wyrostek's proposal to fill the integration certification void.

These days, it seems like a credential or certification exam exists for nearly everything. Want to show a future employer that you know Linux? Get certified by LPI. Want to show that you know how to use Microsoft Word? Get an MOS certification from Microsoft. Want to show that you know how to run speaker wire through the drywall? Get an HTI+ certification from CompTIA. And so on.

What's missing, however, is a truly meaningful certification for integration. You can argue that a number of so-called “vendor-neutral” certifications test on integration topics, but all they really do is ask a lot of questions about Microsoft operating systems and a couple of questions about NetWare, Linux or something else.

To fill that void, Warren Wyrostek has crafted a proposal for a true, upper-level integration certification program or course. But before I discuss it, let me first explain who Warren is. Not only does he hold approximately 50 IT vendor certifications, but most of them are at the top of each class: Master CNI (Novell), Microsoft Trainer, Certified Webmaster Instructor and Master CIW. He's been teaching for over 20 years and is a course developer, technical editor and author of books such as Novell NetWare 6.5 CNA Exam Cram 2.

Now that you can better appreciate the credentials of the person behind the proposition, here's an excerpt from his proposal (you can view the entire proposal here), with my thoughts following:

This course/program would require students to design, configure, implement and administer a real-world enterprise network that consists of NetWare, Microsoft and Linux/Unix servers and workstations, Cisco appliances, remote access solutions and wireless devices. This program would take a student through introductory skills and concepts required to manage each of these platforms as well as have them incorporate products such as ZENworks, Identity Manager, an e-mail solution and finally a SQL solution that would make distribution of data and applications manageable. Incorporated in this network would be a Web server, a proxy server, a NAT solution, a DNS and DHCP solution and a firewall...

...Some would say this is overkill, but those are the folks who have not looked at HR requirements for recent network engineer- or system engineer-type jobs. This type of curriculum and their associated certifications and potential degree are what is being asked for in the IT market place. It just does not exist. Not in a way that if you hire someone with a single certification/degree you are assured that that person has the qualifications and hands-on experience necessary to do the job in an enterprise. This degree/certification guarantees that the person will have the needed skills and knowledge. The certification or degree could be called a "Master of Enterprise Networking."

A possible degree/certification program might consist of the following courses and assessments:

(Prerequisite: Either the A+ certification, or equivalent documented knowledge and experience. Could be validated with an online assessment.)

Introduction to networking CompTIA's Net+ certification
Introduction to directory services, covering eDirectory, NDS, ADS, LDAP, X.500 and more. Final paper
Novell OES administration Novell CNA exam
Microsoft: Managing and maintaining a Windows Server 2003 environment Microsoft MCP
Microsoft TS: Microsoft Windows Vista, configuring Microsoft MCTS
Linux server administration Either CompTIA Linux+ or LPI Level 1 certification (preferably LPI)
Introduction to Cisco routing and switching Cisco CCNA
Introduction to e-mail systems covering Exchange and/or GroupWise Vendor exam for Exchange or GW
Desktop management using ZENworks Novell ZENworks exam
Introduction to Web services: Apache, Tomcat, HTML, CSS, XML Project: Create a Web site and host it on your own server
Security 101

Either CompTIA's Security+ or SCNP certification. If a more extensive coverage of security is desired, then a major course(s) leading to CISSP would be offered (CISSP is industry leader).

This could also lead to either the MCSE Security certification, or the Cisco Security certification.

SQL 101 Either the MS TS toward SQL 2005 or some project using MySQL
Wireless 101 CWNA certification
Integrating directory services Identity Manager use for working with multiple silos of data. Design an IDM solution for eDirectory and ADS.

Students would graduate with a possible degree, multiple vendor certifications, a master-level certification and real-world experience in an integrated, enterprise networking environment.

I think Warren has done a fantastic job of identifying a need and coming up with a solution to satisfy it. Here are some other thoughts:

  1. A+ is a prerequisite for a lot of things, but I don’t know that it's needed here. I would move Network+ out of the table and use it as a prerequisite in place of A+.
  2. On the Linux side of things, LPI is not only preferable to Linux+, but should be required instead of Linux+. The rigor of LPI (more difficult questions, two exams instead of one, more community involvement) makes it a much better certification choice.
  3. The ZENworks bothers me. I would remove it altogether.
  4. While I appreciate the ability to create a Web site, I don’t think that's something an administrator would necessarily do; I would suggest removing that, as well.
  5. I would expand the security possibilities to include Ethical Hacker and a few others.
  6. The Identity Manager bothers me for the same reason as ZENworks -- it seems too vendor-focused.

Aside from these minor issues, I see nothing else I would change. My opinion, however, is just one of many. What are your thoughts? Feel free to share them with Warren at or [email protected], or simply leave a comment below.

About the Author

Emmett Dulaney is the author of several books on Linux, Unix and certification, including the Security+ Study Guide, Fourth Edition. He can be reached at [email protected].


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