Another major area for certification this year will be Windows Server 2003. As companies start to look at the now established operating system as an upgrade to existing Windows server installations, more certified IT pros will be required to oversee, manage and perform migrations.
According to statistics from analyst firm Forrester Research, a survey of 818 companies with revenues exceeding $500 million revealed that 40 percent consider Windows upgrades to be a priority in 2004. This alone will drive demand for candidates with the appropriate level of Windows skills.
Taking the Path Less Followed
So, security and Windows Server 2003 are going to be the big topics of the year, but what if you are looking for something a little off the beaten track?
In that case, there are some other technologies and corresponding certifications that are worthy of attention. However, you will have to pick your way a little more carefully if you choose the path less followed.
Becoming a desired commodity in a nascent technology area is a little more complex than following the crowd. First off, there are likely to be fewer choices, in terms of training courses and other resources.
There also is a generally accepted requirement that you will have solid and extensive experience to backup your new specialized certification. Too much certification and not enough experience will not help you rise to the top of the resume pile. It is worth keeping this in mind before you decide to become a Master Certified Internet Webmaster Enterprise Developer after only having three months of practical experience.
One of the technology areas expected to see huge growth in 2004 is IP telephony. If you already have a solid networking background, a number of vendors including Cisco and Nortel, have IP telephony specific certifications that will allow you to verify your skills in this area.
For Cisco, IP Telephony certification is limited to existing Cisco-certified candidates who can go on to become certified in a number of IP Telephony designations
Of these specializations, two are open to accredited CCNAs, two to CCDAs, while another is only available to existing CCNPs. Attaining CCNP certification will involve a great deal of work for the large numbers of CCNAs already certified, but working toward a specialization like IP Telephony should act as a motivator for those wanting to progress up the Cisco certification ladder.
Not surprisingly, both Cisco's and Nortel's certification offerings are geared toward their respective product offerings. To this point, there are no vendor independent offerings in IP telephony, although a number of certification providers look poised to make sure that they don't miss out on the IP telephony wave that is sure to hit.