Say goodbye to the CDE program

* Novell says Linux focus negates need for Certified Directory Engineer designation

Let's pause and shed a tear for the passing of what is (and soon will be "was") the only certification program in the identity management space. Novell is closing down its Certified Directory Engineer (CDE) program.

I had great hopes for this program when it was introduced back in 1999 ("Thumbs up for Novell's directory engineer certification program," http://www.nwfusion.com/newsletters/dir/1122dir1.html) because it both helped to legitimize identity management and because it had interesting features not present in most other certification programs. It required pre-requisites. It allowed some Microsoft tests to be substituted for Novell tests. Perhaps most importantly, it required testing in a hands-on environment.

I'd hoped the certification industry was changing. Unfortunately, the CDE program never approached the size of Novell's other certification programs. In announcing the end of the program, Ptarmi Kilgore, manager of certification and marketing for Novell Training Services, said the number of current CDEs was in the "high hundreds." Contrast that with the tens of thousands of Certified Novell Engineers (CNE) worldwide.

Now had Novell said that it was closing down the program because it simply didn't attract the numbers necessary to sustain the effort, then we could observe a moment of silence and move on. But that wasn't what Novell said. Oh, no. What Novell is saying (http://www.novell.com/training/certinfo/cde/index.html) is that the acquisition of SuSE, and the upcoming focus on Linux (and the new Certified Linux Engineer certification program) does away with the need for the CDE.

I'm sure those who work in identity management using Novell tools on Windows, NetWare, Solaris, AIX and HP/UX are just pleased as punch that they'll have to study an irrelevant operating system in order to learn more about Novell's directory system. More likely, of course, is that they'll see that Novell no longer appears to take the directory - and identity management practitioners - seriously enough to offer a course for them and will make the necessary changes to move to vendors who do support them directly.

In an attempt to gloss over this, the announcement states "Novell eDirectory will continue to be core to Novell secure identity management solutions and multi-platform network services and therefore will continue to be core to our...Novell Certified Linux Engineer (Novell CLE) certification programs." Since few Linux installations support directories, though, it's hard to see how "core" these requirements can be.

Be honest with your customers and potential customers, Novell. They might not like the news but at least they won't shun you for the way you present it.

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