Linux Certifications: Career-Boosting Credentials

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It’s not difficult to tell that change is in the air. You can’t open a trade magazine or even the local newspaper without running headfirst into something about Linux and how it’s poised to revolutionize our future. And if you don’t believe the usual “trusted sources” on IT trends, some very prominent and recognizable names—John Wooden, Muhammad Ali, Penny Marshall, Henry Lewis Gates and Silvia Nasar—have all been enlisted by IBM and others for advertisements designed to garner your attention.

As an IT professional who has seen many changes in this industry, you likely view this heightened focus on Linux with genuine curiosity along with a healthy dose of cautious skepticism. Is this all hype, or is this just the change you’ve been searching for?

Your own quest to demystify Linux has likely led you to discover that there is more to this groundbreaking technology than figuring out how it’s pronounced. This new world brings with it a host of descriptors and players—community, total cost of ownership, open-source, standards, compatibility and choice—served up by such recognized brands as IBM, Novell, SUSE Linux, Red Hat, Red Flag in China and Turbolinux. These are all played out in the mainstream media, but the key to unlocking your true career potential lies in understanding the genuine business opportunity amid the noise.

Linux Growth
The players in this space include Linux pioneers like Red Hat, SUSE Linux and Turbolinux, as well as long-standing IT trailblazers, IBM and Novell. All of these companies, collectively and in some cases individually, are promising clients (enterprise customers, financial institutions, schools, universities, governments, etc.) choices around their IT infrastructure and related services that will deliver bottom-line technology and balance-sheet improvements.

There is no doubt that the Linux wave is gaining mass as evidenced by recent research results. According to market research firm IDC’s “Worldwide Linux Operating Environments Forecast and Analysis, 2002-2007: Transitioning to Mainstream,” paid new license shipments for Linux server operating environments are projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 16.6 percent between 2002 and 2007. In “The Linux Tipping Point,” Forrester Research backs this data up with findings that show 72 percent of 50 respondents at companies worth more than $1 billion (U.S.) are planning to increase their Linux usage over the next two years. According to CIO Research, “Open Source Gains Momentum,” 64 percent of 375 companies surveyed are using open source, with a key driver being total cost of ownership (TCO).

Building Linux Skills
The true interest for the IT professional must include an investigation of “what’s in it for me?” The “skills gap” hype and IT staffing hysteria of the late ’90s, as well as the tech downturn following the Y2K glut, has had many in the IT sector looking for the best ways to remain marketable and employable no matter what the immediate future holds. Without a psychic reading or a crystal ball, it is impossible to know exactly what is in store for us, but preparing for a future that is likely to include Linux has never been easier or more prudent. Soon you will be faced with an expansive field of choice, albeit often not coordinated or clear, around increasing your literacy, knowledge, skills and credentials on Linux and open-source technologies. Whether you have decided to invest aggressively in this potential Linux opportunity or are cautiously watching from the sidelines, you can get started today.

There are a plethora of choices and directions to take. However, before making an investment of your time and capital, you should consider who is the best partner and most trusted advisor to help you realize and capitalize on the opportunities. Linux distribution vendors have sprung up with their own certifications and training courses. Independent organizations, such as the Linux Professional Institute (LPI), offer even more certification choices. And there are several large integrators that are less focused on certification but provide still more choices…and some very good ones at that.

Novell’s Linux Strategy
Novell, the pioneer of IT certification and training and the original launch point for hundreds of thousands of IT professionals, is now blazing a trail through its recent acquisitions of Ximian and SUSE Linux, as well as the recent release of its Nterprise Linux Services. Novell offers objective and compelling choices for your Linux certification and training needs, including Linux certifications that map to vendor-independent certifications such as LPI’s Level 1 and Level 2 certifications, certifications on Novell’s SUSE Linux distribution and the Novell Practicum examination, which is the capstone test that validates IT professionals’ practical knowledge on Linux and Novell Nterprise Linux services. Novell’s approach is comprehensive and objective, and it offers IT professionals a learning path that recommends appropriate curriculum and exams based on job roles and real-world Linux IT positions.

Novell Linux Certifications
The Novell Certified Linux Engineer, SUSE Certified Linux Professional and SUSE Certified Linux Expert credentials offer validation of the skills and knowledge you have obtained, reinforcing to your employer and clients your ability to be an effective contributor toward their Linux IT infrastructure initiatives. Many IT professionals took a test-drive of the Novell curriculum and the newest certification programs at BrainShare USA, Novell’s annual customer event in March.

The Novell Certified Linux Engineer (CLE) certification validates candidates’ knowledge of Linux and qualifies their ability to install and administer Novell Nterprise Linux Services in exclusive Linux environments as well as in mixed OS environments. Novell highly recommends candidates first earn the LPIC Level 1 certification from the Linux Professional Institute (LPI) before attempting the challenging practical exam, #050-685, Novell Nterprise Linux Services. Course #3015 will also help candidates prepare for the exam.

Following its recent acquisition of SUSE Linux, Novell is also introducing two certifications related to its SUSE Linux distribution: the SUSE Certified Linux Professional (SCLP) and the SUSE Certified Linux Expert (SCLE). The SCLP certification will be tied in with the LPIC Level 1 exams. The SCLE will be tied with the LPIC Level 2 exams.

IT professionals interested in catching the Linux wave should visit their local Novell authorized training partner or check out for more information.

Ptarmi Kilgore is the worldwide certification and partner program manager for Novell Training Services. She has contributed to numerous publications on the subject of IT certification and training. She has extensive industry experience as a change agent, conference presenter and advisory council chair. Ptarmi can be reached at


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