I’m very fortunate to have this platform to share my thoughts on what’s “hot” and what’s “cool” in the world of technology, so I wanted to use a small corner of the platform to pass along some big “props” to a good friend of mine and ‘fellow’ Security Consultant in HP’S MultiVendor Systems Engineering (MSE) group, John Wieland.
Yesterday, John accomplished what lesser-mortals (like me!) only dream of accomplishing: he passed his second CCIE exam!
If you’re not up on your industry certification acronyms, CCIE stands for Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert, and it comes in seven flavors: Wireless, Routing & Switching, Design, Service Provider, Storage Networking, Security and VoIP.
John is CCIE certified in Security and as of yesterday, VoIP as well!
If you’re not impressed yet, how about this: having two CCIE certifications is a little like having two Olympic Gold Medals (without the picture on the Wheaties Box). It’s like having two Super Bowl Rings (without the bruises) or two platinum albums (do they still call them platinum ‘albums’?).
So what’s the big deal you ask? Well, it’s simple. You don’t wake up one day, decide you’re going to go become a CCIE, pick up a book and a mocha-frappa-latte-chino at the local book store, thumb through it (the book, not the a mocha-frappa-latte-chino), take the test and get the big prize. This isn’t one of those “take-a-boot camp-get-a-cert” things.
The CCIE takes a lot of very hard work (we’re talking months and months if not years and years of hard work) and tremendous dedication to make it through. It takes a lot of smarts, a lot of drive, but mostly, it just takes a lot of very hard work. Props to those who have what it takes to run the marathon and cross the finish line, and big props to those who circle back around to the starting line and do it again!
To those who persevere, we applaud you.
And so, in the famous words of Denver Bronco’s owner Pat Bolan: “This one’s for John!” Big congrats, John!!! Well done. Well done indeed!
Now take some time off before you circle back around for the hat trick!
While I’m on the subject of Industry Certifications (and I still have some platform left!), my students will tell you that if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, “Stop relying on boot camps”. No offense to those who provide them – they offer a very valuable service to people in the industry who want to refresh their knowledge before taking an exam; the key word being “refresh”. But sadly, I’ve spoken to too many clients who decide that they ‘need’ a certified person in ‘xyz’, so they pick the first unlucky sap whose head pops up over the cube walls, send her off to a week-long boot camp that offers the certification exam on Friday afternoon, and, if she’s successful, believe that they are much better off than they were the week before! They expect the person with the newly acquired acronym by their name to be the expert on whatever it is the letters stand for!
So here’s my advice: STOP DOING THAT! You’re wasting your money and your time, possibly putting your business at risk, and you’re not accomplishing what you were most likely hoping to which is to have an expert available.
If you’re looking for deep expertise in a specific technology, you’re not going to teach it in a week! You need to buy it ready-made, or invest the time and money to grow it. Real expertise isn't like instant oatmeal! You need to train for it, or borrow it or buy it or hire it, but you can’t get it from a box or from a week long boot camp! Now let me say, I’ve been through a few boot camps in my life: one in the military and one more recently for law enforcement (of course they like to call it an Academy, but we all know a boot camp when we see one!). The former was sixteen weeks and the latter was six months, and neither let me out the front door pretending that I was an expert at anything they taught me! Both bootcamps were followed up by even more longer and harder training with even more focus and even then they still called us ‘rookies’ - not ‘experts’ - when we were done. The bottom line is this: expertise comes from experience and experience comes with time. It also comes from a lot of hard work, and a lot of ‘doing’. You wouldn’t get your wisdom teeth pulled by a dentist who only spent a week at dentist boot camp would you? So why would you trust your information infrastructure to someone who got his ‘expertise’ from a week of force-fed-facts in a classroom?
Again: boot camps - good. Instant gratification -bad. Don’t not invest in the boot camp; just don’t put all of your eggs in the boot camp basket and expect to get a prize hen out of it in five days!
And while we’re at it, don’t confuse acronyms with skills. If you’re buying expertise for either the long term or the short term, ask for credentials. Ask for experience. Ask what lies behind the letters.
Get references and make sure you get what you hope you’re going to get! You can’t afford to bet your business on fictitious or misleading credentials! If you have the time to grow your own, a wise investment in training and a lot of patience will get you what you need. In the short term, rely on trusted partnerships with people who’ve been around the block a few times and can show you what’s behind the curtain.
Appropriate use of boot camps: wise. The quest for instant gratification: risky. Funding or finding true expertise behind all of those letters: priceless.
For information on HP's Security Expertise, go to http://h20219.www2.hp.com/services/us/en/always-on/security-overview.html
And, you can read more about the CCIE Certification at http://www.cisco.com/web/learning/le3/ccie/index.html