I don’t as a rule chase technical certifications. As a
technical person who’s been mucking about with computers since around
1981, and as someone who has been on the hiring side of the desk,
certifications are similar to some college degrees. They might get you
in the door, but you still have to pass the practical exam with the
technical staff in order to get hired.
get me wrong, the certification at least gets you past the recruiter/HR
rep. Probably. At least where I am, the recruiter has a list of
questions plus you have to get past my manager’s review before it even
gets into my hands for a yes/no vote.
have several certifications over the years and some have been
challenging. I basically have a goal for going after the certification
and generally it’s to validate my existing skills and maybe pick up a
couple of extra bits that are outside my current work environment.
in the 80’s, I was installing and managing Novell and 3Com Local Area
Networks (LAN). At one medium sized company, I was the first full time
LAN Manager. In order to get access to the inner support network, I took
quite a few 3Com classes and eventually went for the final
certification. The certification would give me access to CompuServe and
desired support network.
I did pass of course, and being a gamer, I enjoyed the heck out of the certification title.
Certification 1: 3Com 3Wizard
taken quite a few various training courses over the years. IBM’s OS/2
class down in North Carolina. Novell training (remember the ‘Paper CNE’
🙂 ), and even MS-DOS 5 classes. About this time (early 90’s), I’d been
on Usenet for 4 or 5 years. I’d written a Usenet news reader (Metal) and
was very familiar with RFCs and how the Usenet server specifically
worked. I had stumbled on Linux when Linus released it but I didn’t
actually install a Linux server on an old 386 I had until Slackware came
out with a crapload of diskettes. I had an internet connection at home
Basically I was poking at Linux.
the mid 90’s, I was ready to change jobs. I had been moved from a
single department to the overall organization (NASA HQ) and what I was
going to be working on was going to be reduced from everything for the
department to file and print and user management. I was approached by
the Unix team and manager. “Hey, how about you shift to the Unix team?”
It honestly took me a week to consider it but I eventually accepted. I
was given ownership of the Usenet server 🙂 and the Essential Sysadmin
book and over 30 days, I devoured the book and even sent in a correction
to the author (credit in the next edition 🙂 ). After 2 years of
digging in, documenting, and researching plus attending a couple of
Solaris classes, I went for the Sun certification. This was really just
so I could validate my skills. I didn’t need the certs for anything as
there wasn’t a deeper support network you gained access to when you got
Certification 2: Sun Certified Solaris Administrator
Certification 3: Sun Certified Network Administrator
few years later the subcontractor I was working for lost the Unix
position. They were a programming shop (databases) and couldn’t justify
the position. I was interested in learning more about networking and
wanted to take a couple of classes. The new subcontractor offered me a
chance at a boot camp for Cisco. I accepted and for several weeks, I
attended the boot camp. I wasn’t working on any Cisco gear so basically
concentrated on networking concepts more than anything else. I barely
even took any notes 🙂 But I also figured that since the company was
paying for the class ($10,000), I should at least get the
certifications. The CCNA certification was a single test on all the
basics of Cisco devices and networking. The CCNP certification was
multiple tests, each one focusing on each category vs an overall test
like the CCNA one was. The farther away from the class I got, the harder
it was to pass the tests. CCNA was quick and easy. I passed the next
couple with one test. The next took a couple of tests. The last took 3
tests. But I did pass and get my certifications.
Certification 4: Cisco Certified Network Associate
Certification 5: Cisco Certified Network Professional
did actually manage firewalls after I got the certification, but I
really am a systems admin and the command line and concepts were outside
my wheelhouse. I tried to take the refresher certification but they’d
gone to hands on testing vs multiple choice and since I wasn’t actually
managing Cisco gear, I failed.
been running Red Hat Linux on my home firewall for a while but I
switched to Mandrake for a bit, then Mandriva, then Ubuntu. I also set
up a remote server in Florida running OpenBSD so still poking at
operating systems and still a system admin sort of person. At my job
now, I was hired because of my enterprise knowledge. Working with
Solaris, AIX, Irix, and various Linux distros. Since Sun was purchased
by Oracle and then abandoned, I’ve been moving more into Red Hat
management. Getting deeper and deeper into it. We’re also using HP-UX
and had a few Tru64 servers in addition to a FreeBSD server and Red Hat
servers. I’d taken several Red Hat training courses, cluster management,
performance tuning, etc and eventually decided to go for my
certifications. It seems like I’ve been getting a cert or two every 10
years 🙂 3Wizard in the 80’s. Sun in the 90’s. And Cisco in the 00’s.
So I signed up for the Red Hat Certified System Administrator test and
the Red Hat Certified Engineer test. It took two tries to get the RHCSA
certificate. The first part of the test is to break into the test
server. Took me 30 minutes the first time to remember how to do that.
The RHCE test was a bit different. You had to create servers vs just use
them as in the RHCSA test. Shoot, if I need to create a server, I don’t
need to memorize how to do it. I document the process after research.
Anyway, after two tries at the RHCE test, I dropped trying.
Certification 6: Red Hat Certified System Administrator
With Red Hat 8 out, I’ll give it a year and for the 20’s try for the RHCSA and RHCE again.
an odd thing though. These are all Operating System certifications. I’m
a Systems Admin. I manage servers. I enjoy managing servers. I’ve
considered studying for and getting certifications for MySQL for example
since I do a lot of coding for one of my applications (and several
smaller ones) and would like to expand my knowledge of databases. I’m
sure I’m doing some things the hard way 🙂 Work actually gave me (for
free!) two Dell R710 servers as they were being replaced. The first one I
set up to replace my Ubuntu gateway so it was a full install of Linux
and a firewall. Basically a replacement. All my code was on it, my
backups, web sites, etc. But the second server showed up and the guys on
the team talked me into installing VMware’s Vsphere software to turn
the server into a VMware server able to host multiple virtual servers.
And I stepped up and signed up to the VMware Users Group (VMUG) because I
could get a discount on Vcenter which lets me turn the two R710’s into a
addition, I took over control of the Kubernetes clusters at work. The
Product Engineers had thrown it over the wall at Operations and it ha
sat idle. After I took it over, I updated the scripts I’d initially
created to deploy the original clusters to start building new clusters.
I’ve been digging deeper and deeper into Kubernetes in order to be able
to support it. On the Product Engineering side, they’re building
containers and pods to be deployed into the Kubernetes environments so
they’re familiar with Kubernetes with regards to deployments and some
rudimentary management but they’re not building or supporting the
clusters. I am. I’m it. My boss recently asked me, “who’s our support
contract with for Kubernetes?” and my answer was, “me, just me.”
I decided to try and take the Kubernetes exams. This is the first
non-operating system exam and certification I’ve attempted. Note that I
considered it for mysql and others, but never actually moved forward
with them. For Kubernetes, since I’m it, I figured I should dig in
deeper and get smarter. I took the exam and failed it. But I realized
that they were looking for application development knowledge as well
which as an Operations admin, I’m not involved in. So I took the
Application Developer course and took the exam again last week and
passed it. But since I was taking the AppDev course, I figured I’d take
the AppDev test. But I failed that as well. The first time. I expect
I’ll be able to pass it the second time I try (I have a year for the
Certification 7: Certified Kubernetes Administrator
the past few days, I’ve been touting the CKA cert. I even have a
printed copy of the cert at my desk. It’s the first one I’ve taken
that’s not Operating System specific.
Carl – 3Wizard, SCSA/SCNA, CCNA/CCNP, RHCSA, CKA