Mentor Technologies’ vLab Continues

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Mentor Technologies’ vLab Lives On


If you’ve been following the e-learning space, you might have heard that Mentor Technologies recently became another casualty of the recession. To anyone familiar with Mentor Technologies vLabs, you’d know this was a great loss (oh boy, this is beginning to sound like a eulogy).


Mentor Technologies was one of the early innovators in “lab” technology. Essentially they developed a sophisticated proprietary technology that provided an individual student or classroom access to the actual hardware and software the students were learning about.  This was a monumental step forward in enabling students to get “real-world” practice without the expensive out-of-pocket investment.  Most IT educators would agree that for IT training to be truly beneficial, students must achieve both real-world experience and conceptual knowledge—simulations are rarely as effective as the real thing.  


Before Mentor Technologies came along students and training companies often had to spend tens of thousands of dollars purchasing the equipment themselves.  There is, however, a silver lining at the end of this story.  E-Learning provider, Element K, has just announced they are acquiring Mentor’s vLab technology.  This is great news because it means IT professionals will still have a number of viable options for getting “real-world” hands-on experience, other than investing in a lot of expensive equipment or relying on simulations.


vLab exercises have been offered by Element K along with its e-Learning service for the past year. vLab will now be offered with Element K’s new e-Learning platform, KnowledgeHub. vLab Technology has provided IT students with 24 by seven access to Cisco and Microsoft networking systems. “This technology is so unique, allowing people to have hands-on experience with real gear, which helps to overcome the main shortcoming of e-learning,” said Element K’s Carrie Arneth Miller. “It is a very strong product and there’s a great interest and demand for it in the space. We wanted to continue to be able to provide this technology to our customers.”


For more information, about vLab Technology, go to


The Wide, Wide World of DBAs


So maybe you’re already a database administrator (DBA), or maybe you’re just getting started, but you’ve decided to get certified as a DBA.  Even in the current economic climate, demand for DBAs continues to
increase.  So what certifications are out there for DBAs?  All companies providing relational database management systems (RDBMSs) provide certifications.  This includes Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle 8i, Lotus Domino R5 and IBM DB2.


Even if you’ve already decided on a particular vendor for certification, it’s not a bad idea to become experienced on all the major systems.  The cool thing is that you can do it for very little money.  All the leading database vendors offer free trials.  You’ll want to acquire a reasonably inexpensive machine to run as a server.   As long as the machine meets the minimum requirements for NT 4.0, you’ll be fine.  As far as your client computer goes, you shouldn’t have a problem using your personal computer.  You’ll also want to build a network, which shouldn’t cost more than a couple of hundred bucks.  


The following is a list of where to get free evaluation goods:


* Microsoft:
* Oracle:
* Lotus:
* IBM:


Let’s take a closer look at the certifications:


The Microsoft Certified Database Administrator (MCDBA) is Microsoft’s premier DBA designation.  To get an MCDBA you need to pass three core exams and one elective exam to prove your expertise with the SQL Server database.  More information is available from Microsoft at


Oracle, a company built on selling database technology, has various tracks to prove your database knowledge.  It offers the Oracle Database Administrator, Oracle Database Operator, Oracle Application Developer
and the Oracle Java Developer tracks. 
More information is available from Oracle at


The Certified Lotus Professional (CLP) program offers candidates a couple of options.  There is an entry-level track, the Certified Lotus Specialist (CLS), which requires just one exam. Their premium designation is the Certified Lotus Professional (CLP).  You can choose one of two paths to obtain the CLP title, the Application Development path or the System Administration path.   The highest designation Lotus offers is the CLP principal application developer or the CLP principal system administrator.  You must already be a CLP and pass an additional elective. More information is available from Lotus at


Finally IBM’s Certified Solutions Expert (CSE) offers a variety of options depending on the version of DB2 and the underlying OS.  The IBM CSE – DB2 UDB V7.1 Database Administration for UNIX, Windows and OS/2 requires passing two exams.  The IBM CSE – DB2 UDB V7.1 Family Application Development also requires two exams. More information is available from IBM at


Performance-Based Testing, Part 1: What’s All the Hoopla?


Over the past couple of years, performance-based testing has become increasingly popular.  Most of the leading certification vendors -including Microsoft, Cisco and Novell – use them to some degree in their certification programs.  To understand why they’ve become so popular, you must have an understanding of what exactly performance-based testing is. 

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