Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Domino Double Certifications - Jack of All Trades and Master of None ?

I had an interesting chat with a colleague last week regarding the evolution of consulting roles in the Notes industry. In the 'Good Old Days' (TM) of Notes Release 1 through R4 every man and his dog was both a System Administrator and an Application Developer. Perhaps they were better at one side than the other but you could have a chat with everyone you met at Lotussphere without encountering too many blank looks.

R5 through R7 drove a wedge through the tribe and split it into two separate camps - not quite as bad as the Hatfields and the McCoys but it suddenly seemed acceptable to wear only one hat and to plead ignorance as to what the other tribe was doing.

At the risk of becoming a "Jack of All Trades and Master of None", some of us have kept a foot in both camps by maintaining certifications in both System Administration and Application Development, but I'm wondering how long that can go on. I'm just about to embark on a one-week intensive e-learning experience with X-Pages to prepare me for my R8.5 App Dev upgrade exam followed later by a similar effort for the R8.5 Sys Admin upgrade. My point is that the Notes/Domino environment is just so d@mn big these days that no-one can hope to know it all.

I'm interested in hearing what other people's approach is to certification. Is it worth the effort to maintain a double certification? I see it as a good personal benchmark but do customers really care about such things?


Ron said...

You make a valid point, it is difficult to be good at both developing and admin. I am sys. admin and am certified in both in 8.5 mainly because I want to have a basic understanding of development side. I think it makes me a better admin to understand what is going on, on the other side of the wall.

Brian Labelle said...

Funny that I read this today. I was just saying the same thing to my manager yesterday and have been discussing this with several other Lotus Notes Developers & Admins....

I feel that as of Domino 8.5, that the developer role now branches off to 3 developer paths, there are still murky waters, but eventually I think that there will be 3 distinct dev roles...

- Traditional Notes Client Development

- Composite Application Development

- xPages/Web Development

I've been studying for the 8.5 dev upgrade exam....

I had attemped to have dual certifications, but just time does not permit.

Brian Labelle
IBM Lotus Notes PCLP Developer

Terry Boyd said...

For some of us that work for ourselves, maintaining dual certifications is almost a must if we want to retain our IBM business partner status after September 1st.

Having said that, in 18 years I have never once been asked for my certification credentials by a customer.

I do, however, feel that it is of utmost importance for developers to understand the implications of their designs on the host Domino servers. Of course, the reverse is true as well; Administrators must understand the implications of their administrative decisions to the operation of the hosted database (oops, application) systems.

Indeed, "understanding" does not imply certification. However, certification often implies a certain level of understanding. I know that I have learned something new (and useful!) every time I have prepared for one of my update exams.

Many of us are so busy that we neglect to review all of the new (and sometimes, very cool) features included with each new release of the product. Being forced to sit the update exam forces us to MAKE TIME to review and understand those features.

So, while I hate the thought of taking the exams (cost, time, etc.) to retain my certification status, I understand the need and often feel better equipped after passing each one.

Anonymous said...

@terri,can you explain the requirement as you see it after September, tks, Sean

Terry Boyd said...


As of September 1st, IBM BP's must maintain two technical certifications and one sale certification.

Historically, a "Principal" or "Advanced" certification in either stream represented TWO certifications. However, that has been reversed, and any one certification counts as, well, ONE certification.

Therefore logic dictates that, as a one-man-band, one must attain certification in both streams to fulfill the BP certification requirements.

This is only what I believe to be true here in APAC - I may be wrong (open to feedback here?). I know it applies if any BP wishes to sell Lotus licenses.