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.
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,
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.