Road To MCSE: The NT-CIP Certification or 'One's Born Every Minute'

Tuesday Nov 7th 2000 by ServerWatch Staff
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This weeks rendition of 'Road To MCSE' is inspired by something I read over at ExamNotes, a web site dedicated to helping MCSEs and aspiring MCSEs. For the full text of the article, click HERE. The NT-CIP (NT Certified Independent Professional) is an alternative Windows NT 4.0 certification program that its founders, Lanop of New York City, propound will extend the life of the Windows NT 4.0 MCSE certification program. They imply at their web site that this new certification will carry the same imprimatur as the MCSE. New entrants into the field can test out and obtain the NT-CIP and existing MCSEs can be 'grandfathered' into the program by sending $30US to the company.

Thomas Shinder

This week's rendition of "Road To MCSE" is inspired by something I read over at ExamNotes, a web site dedicated to helping MCSEs and aspiring MCSEs. For the full text of the article, click HERE.

The NT-CIP (NT Certified Independent Professional) is an alternative Windows NT 4.0 certification program that its founders, Lanop of New York City, propound will extend the life of the Windows NT 4.0 MCSE certification program. They imply at their web site that this new certification will carry the same imprimatur as the MCSE. New entrants into the field can test out and obtain the NT-CIP and existing MCSEs can be "grandfathered" into the program by sending $30US to the company.

There are several issues and misconceptions brought up in the ExamNotes article that beg for clarification.

Microsoft Provided Virtually No Time to Prepare for the Upgrade

The announcement that the Windows NT 4.0 certification exams would retire was made in the last quarter of 1999. At the time of the announcement, students in MCSE track had at least 14 months to finish their Windows NT 4.0 studies. Even students entirely new to the field of networking and operating systems could have easily finished up their Windows NT 4.0 studies and started working on Windows 2000 in that period of time.

Training Centers Are Unable To Cope With Change

The author of the article goes on to say that the Training Centers were not able to cope with the changes required to begin the Windows 2000 training program. These training centers did not have the wherewithal and resources to upgrade hardware and software, or to provide training materials for students seeking to begin the Windows 2000 training program.

Give me a break. These training centers could easily have upgraded their facilities to support a Windows 2000 Training Program. The problem with the vast majority that I've had the pleasure to work with is that they played ostrich and hoped the whole thing would go away. Many of them just denied that this was going to be an issue and continue to offer the same Windows NT 4.0 based certification without a care about the expiration of the Windows NT 4.0 program.

Thomas Shinder

There Is No Panic

There is the suggestion in the article that the students and the training centers are in a virtual state of panic because all the training centers are able to offer is the Windows NT 4.0 program. And when the students finish the program, the Windows NT 4.0 exams will no longer be available or the Windows NT 4.0 MCSE will have expired, and worse, if they train the students for Windows 2000 the students will be unemployable. The students therefore are either left in the position of getting a certification or a job!

I don't know where this panic might be, but I haven't seen any of it. If there are any negative emotions, its anger at training centers that promised that the students would complete their certification, whether for Windows NT 4.0 or Windows 2000 by the end of their program. The promise was made when the fact is that they may not be able to because of inexperience or because of the expiration of the program.

This has happened in spite of the fact that these training centers are well aware of what is happening with the Microsoft certification program. These centers have chosen to ignore reality, or allow their sales people to mislead or otherwise under-represent the facts to their candidates. The result being that students are angry that they will not be able to complete the easier Windows NT 4.0 certification program, and will lack the skills and experience to successfully complete the Windows 2000 certification.

The truth is that if a student finishes a training program, that student has obtained valuable skills. It doesn't matter if they have finished the Windows NT 4.0 MCSE or not. It is an unfortunate reality that the Windows NT 4.0 MCSE has almost reached bottom in terms of its credibility in the job scene. This is because of brain dump sites, books based on brain dump sites, and practice test vendors that have based their exams on brain dumps or actually pilfered the exam questions on their own.

Although the prospects for the Windows 2000 MCSE look bright at this time, the sun has definitely set on the Windows NT 4.0 MCSE. This retiring certification, in and of itself, now fails to provide any valid measure of high-level computer skills.

Thomas Shinder

LANOP is an Answer to No One's Prayers

The author goes on to say that Lanop is the answer to the prayers of these allegedly panicked students who feel they have thrown months of their lives down the drain. Lanop is the answer to no one's prayers, especially for the students in the throes of the Windows NT 4.0 study scene.

Why? Because Lanop has no credibility in the industry. A certification of any kind is only as valuable as the entity issuing it. Who are they? What do they do? When you think of high quality anything, does the image of Lanop race to the forefront of your consciousness? Has Lanop ever come to mind, other than perhaps as a provider of brain dumps a couple of years ago for the Windows NT 4.0 track? (They appear to no longer sponsor brain dumps).

If this company lacks credibility, why would one think their certification series would make any difference at all to an employer?

While some may argue that providing an independent certification path for Windows NT 4.0 may be a good thing, it would have to be provided by a luminary in the industry in order to make it effective. An unknown training organization is very unlikely to have such clout. If IBM, Compaq or Dell had decided that this was a good idea, they could have put together a program that might have lent some credibility. Even better, a University could sponsor such a program. But neither industry heavyweights nor The Ivory Tower have come to the conclusion that this was a good enough idea to implement.

Thomas Shinder

MCSE Candidates and MCSEs Don't Have to Worry

IT workers always have to worry! This industry changes very, very quickly. It you are not in the constant pursuit of upgrading and expanding your skill set, you'll very quickly find yourself looking for a new career.

Unlike my previous career in neurology, where I could take it for granted that the human nervous system would not likely change much during my lifetime, you can't just learn your favorite operating system, server software, and hardware platform and rest assured that its not likely to change in your lifetime. Hardware and software are in a constant state of evolution, and if you want to be a success, you must be ready, willing, and excited to meet the demands of change.

Today's students that are working on learning Windows NT 4.0 should not become dismayed at the rate of change and the retirement of the Windows NT 4.0 certification track. In fact, those students who know Windows NT 4.0 will be at a tremendous advantage when it comes time for them to learn Windows 2000. I pity the poor soul without NT experience who tries to learn Windows 2000 from scratch. Without the grounding in Microsoft networking and NT concepts, the mountain of information to be absorbed in Windows 2000 would seem virtually insurmountable.

If you already have your MCSE, then you are in a good position either way. First, if you have your MCSE, you likely have some industry experience. It's this experience that matters to your employers, not whether Microsoft has decided to retire your Windows NT 4.0 certification. And if you are a new MCSE without much experience, you have the knowledge required to make your trek to Windows 2000 that much easier.

Thomas Shinder

Microsoft Doesn't Care About Lanop

There was some discussion regarding whether Microsoft would sue Lanop. Why would they? Because Lanop would take some money away from the testing program for Windows 2000? I doubt it. The testing and certification program is not considered a profit center for Microsoft. Of course, Microsoft might be concerned if they felt that keeping interest in the Windows NT 4.0 certification alive would drain the pool of strong Windows 2000 candidates. But I doubt that is the case.

Why? Because Microsoft is concerned that candidates who receive the Windows 2000 certification are indeed expert at LAN and WAN systems, and in the design and implementation of Windows 2000 networks. The pool of highly skilled engineers isn't going to come from people who worry excessively about getting their Windows NT 4.0 MCSE. This pool is filled with people excited about the new technology, and who jump headfirst into the expansive realm that is Windows 2000.

Microsoft was Never the "God" of the IT Industry

Finally, the writer of the article states that Microsoft was once the "God" of the IT industry, but that they have been kicked off of their pedestal by Lanop the savior. First, Microsoft was never the "God" of the IT industry. They are a major and powerful player, but they are just one of a large number of powerful forces in the industry. And if Microsoft was ever on a pedestal, it'll take someone that has provided more to the industry than Lanop to remove them from it.

Thomas Shinder

So What's the Bottom Line?

Phineas Taylor (P.T.) Barnum is claimed to have said "There's a sucker born every minute", and the notorious con-man "Paper Collar Joe" said "There's sucker born every minute, but none of them ever die". There are a lot of reasons why people become suckers: fear, uncertainty, hope, arrogance or naiveti. Lanop is hoping to cash in on any one of these reasons.

Don't be played for a sucker. If you're new to the business, study Windows NT 4.0 and try to pass the three core exams required to qualify you for the Windows 2000 Accelerated exam. Even if it's too late for you to pass those exams, you should still spend three or four months studying the core of the Windows NT 4.0 track. It will make you a much stronger candidate in the workplace, and give you the required background knowledge on which to build your Windows 2000 skills.

If you're already in the business you have nothing to worry about. If you have not upgraded your Windows NT 4.0 MCSE by the time the balloons fall on Times Square on January 1, 2002, don't worry. You will not lose your job, and you haven't lost your skills. Take the time to upgrade your MCSE on a schedule that works for you. And don't waste $30US on a certification that's meaningless. If you need to relieve yourself of this money, go buy one of my books.

The bottom line is that skills are what count. That's what the employers want, and that what you should expect to provide to them. There's going to be a precipitous drop in the number of MCSEs in 2002, and the HR departments will get the point real fast that the MCSE is not an entry level certification. 

This is good for everyone, because it will take the emphasis off of certification as a goal in and of itself, and place the emphasis back where it belongs, which is "what do you know and what can you do for us?" If you answer these questions correctly on your job interview, then you're in good shape.

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