COMMON Prepares Business Computing Certification for Orlando Show
March 8, 2010 Alex Woodie
How much do you know about the general concepts behind business computing? If you’re attending COMMON‘s annual user conference, scheduled to start eight weeks from today at the brand new Hilton Orlando resort in central Florida, you might want to allocate a couple of hours to take the exam for the COMMON Business Computing Associate (CBCA) certification, the first of two business computing certifications the user group is rolling out.
COMMON announced the CBCA and the COMMON Certified Business Computing Professional (CCBCP) at last year’s show in Reno, Nevada. The CBCA, which is targeted at college graduates and others just starting out their IT careers, is a general-purpose certification that demonstrates the holder has a firm grasp of a broad range of business computing concepts. The CCBCP, which won’t debut until the 2011 show, will take the CBCA up a notch, and is aimed at people with two to three years of on-the-job experience.
Randy Dufault, a COMMON board member who also heads the steering committee developing the certifications, explains the concept of the CBCA. “The intent of the certification is to provide a credential that demonstrates an understanding of the delivery of computing in the context of a business,” Dufault tells IT Jungle. “Certainly the technical certifications from IBM, Microsoft, and others demonstrate your technical competence in a very specific technology. That’s important. But if you look at the average COMMON member or individual, who comes from a relatively small IT organization, while it may be important for them to carry a technical certification, we think it’s extremely important for them to be able to understand technology and computing in the context of the business.”
The CBCA will be loosely tied to the System i platform, Dufault says. Owing to the small size of many System i shops, IT professionals who work there are required to be knowledgeable in a variety of different skill sets. In other words, they are “jacks of all trades,” competent across many IT disciplines, but, perhaps, master of none. The CBCA will start filling in the holes that surround the various technical certifications.
While the CBCA curriculum is not yet nailed down 100 percent, the general categories that are expected to be covered in the exam include:
Business continuity concepts, including disaster recovery, high availability, and backups, will also feature prominently in the test, as well IBM i/OS concepts. CPCA certificate holders must also demonstrate a grasp of general Power Systems concepts, which means a decent dose of AIX and Linux.
“The idea here is to tie this all into the context of business and to indicate that someone carrying either of these credentials is a well-rounded technology professional that understands what technology means for the business, and isn’t going to do something silly like come out of college thinking, ‘Well, I know a lot about networks, so I’m going to go set the company’s network up Monday from noon to 1,'” Dufault says.
COMMON members will be able to take the test anytime during the first three days of the upcoming show in COMMON, which is scheduled for May 3 through 6. The test will be given on a computer and is multiple choice. The certification steering committee has not yet decided how many questions there will be, but test-takers will be allotted about two hours to take the test. If the 15 to 20 PCs in the test room fill up quickly, COMMON will take steps to allow test-takers to schedule a reservation.
Dufault says that COMMON is expected to begin testing the test shortly. It is likely that testing will not be 100 percent complete by the time the show rolls around, so the CBCA test-takers in Orlando will actually be part of the beta test. “What that means is the test will be complete, but some of the follow-on work, essentially the work that determines the passing score, will not be completed yet,” he says. “The data that we gather from folks taking the test in Orlando will act as input to that process.”
COMMON will award CBCA certifications from tests taken at the Orlando show, but test-takers may not know if they passed or failed until after the show.
Currently, the CBCA test will only be given at physical events, such as the COMMON show and some of the local user group (LUG) events. The test will also be available through colleges and universities, Dufault says.
In fact, the support of colleges and universities has been instrumental to the CBCA process, Dufault says. “Academia is really very, very interested in certifications,” Dufault says. “I honestly have to say that without the express interest of that community, I’m not sure that COMMON would have gone ahead with the certification program.”
The COMMON certification steering committee has two members from academia, including Jerry Chang from the University of Nevada Las Vegas and Jim Buck from Gateway Technical College. Other committee members besides Dufault include: Jim Oberholtzer, a COMMON board member and its executive vice president; Justin Porter, a COMMON volunteer active in the Young iSeries Professional (YIPS) group; and Paul Roy, the treasurer of COMMON Europe.