Finish out of the money in a stakes race, and you’ll be labeled an also-ran. With Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA grabbing most certification headlines, is there room in the spotlight for Intel accreditation? Apparently not. But more on that in a moment.

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I think there’s room for four or five top-shelf IT industry certification programs. Which ones? Try these:

  • Cisco
  • CompTIA
  • Microsoft
  • Novell
  • Red Hat

Intel doesn’t make my list. The hardware manufacturer boasts dominant share in many peripheral markets, though, so I decided to look into its certification program.

Intel certification breathing last gasp
If you need to receive Intel certification, time is running out. Intel just announced that it will be transferring all “Certified Individuals into industry standards based certification programs.” That means Intel is shutting down its certification programs.

Instead of running its own proprietary effort, Intel will be pushing IT professionals into other recognized programs. It has selected ProsoftTraining and CompTIA to replace its certifications.

However, Intel will honor all Intel certifications through the end of the year. It will also continue providing technical training for its products, including training for Intel Premier Providers. But come Dec. 31, 2001, that’s it for Intel’s three certification tracks.

The tracks
Intel’s three certification tracks are:

  • Intel Certified e-Business Specialist
  • Intel Certified Integration Specialist
  • Intel Certified Solutions Consultant

The e-Business Specialist track focuses on testing e-business deployment and integration skills, while the Integration Specialist route offers candidates two tracks: networking and server integration. The Solutions Consultant track reflects an independent IT professional’s ability to develop and implement strategic technical solutions.

Here’s a quick look at each of Intel’s certifications.

Intel Certified e-Business Specialist
According to Intel, the e-business track is recommended for IT professionals “responsible for designing and optimizing e-Business solutions based on Intel’s broad product line.” Included in that group are Internet consultants and systems integrators.

E-biz cert candidates must develop expertise with Intel’s NetStructure e-business data center systems, 1U/2U/4U server platforms, and other e-business product lines the company manufactures.

Expect to take courses in the following if you’re interested in an Intel Certified e-Business Specialist:

  • E-commerce systems and infrastructure design
  • Server foundations
  • WAN solutions
  • Security administration

Intel Certified Integration Specialist
As I mentioned, the Integration Specialist certification offers two tracks: the network route and the server concentration. These tracks target IT staff “responsible for technical activities,” which, of course, describes just about every IT professional out there.

Intel’s breakdown is as follows:

  • Networking—systems engineers, network administrators, systems builders, and other technical IT staff
  • Server Integration—server and systems integrators

The networking track emphasizes learning key technologies needed to design and deploy secure, efficient networks. Core courses include mastering Intel Technology Essentials and Implementing LAN and WAN Solutions. Networking electives include courses covering:

  • Wireless LAN design.
  • E-business infrastructure optimization.
  • Security and VPN administration.
  • Scalable network design and administration.

The server integration track examines physical server creation. Candidates will be tested on their ability to design, build, test, and upgrade servers. I smile slightly when I read Intel’s statement that this track takes a multivendor approach. Why do I think Pentium processor knowledge is emphasized over AMD Athlon chip expertise?

The server integration track’s core requirements include Intel Server Technologies and Configuration and Managing and Servicing Intel-based Servers. (But don’t forget, a multiplatform approach is used!) In Intel’s defense, a candidate must also possess CompTIA’s Server+ certification. CompTIA’s accreditation, of course, uses a multivendor approach.

Interestingly, no elective courses are required to earn Intel’s server integration certification.

Intel Certified Solutions Consultant
Intel’s third certification targets high-level systems engineers and network administrators. But it also has relevance for IT managers, consultants, and other IT professionals. Intel states the Intel Certified Solutions Consultant certification is meant for those IT professionals “whose primary responsibilities are the analysis, recommendation, and design of advanced technology solutions.”

Core requirements that must be mastered include e-commerce design and server and network fundamentals. As with the Intel Certified Integration Specialist Server Integration track, no electives are required.

Is there another certification you’d like to read about?

If you’re curious about other IT industry certifications, let me know. While it may not be possible to answer all requests, I might be able to examine the certification you have questions about!

Six steps to success
The Intel certification program consists of six steps:

  1. Obtain a user ID from Intel.
  2. Transfer respective credits, if you’ve already earned MCSE, CCNA, CNE, CIW, or CompTIA certification.
  3. Select core requirements.
  4. Select elective courses.
  5. Identify a training facility and receive training.
  6. Pass the necessary exams.

As with other certifications, candidates that meet the necessary requirements enjoy access to an Intel newsletter, an exclusive Web site, an information archive, and more (at least until the end of the year).

Intel’s biggest problem
Have you ever heard of Intel’s certification program? Have you ever met a certified Intel IT professional? Other than a stray advertisement for Intel’s certification program, I’d never heard of it.

I decided to go looking and see how much I could find. Neither my local training facility nor New Horizons offered any courses I could find targeting Intel certification. Worse, I couldn’t find any information on Intel’s program at Brainbench, GoCertify, or Cramsession. Certification Magazine listed Intel certification as a topic, but I couldn’t find any detailed information there, either.

Without such third-party support and at least some publicity, it’s hard for a certification to take off. Thus, it’s no surprise to me that Intel is shutting the doors on its proprietary certification program.

Eckel’s take
I can’t, in good faith, recommend that you pursue Intel certification. It’s ending in less than a year. Worse, no one I know ever knew much about it.

Even if you earned the accreditation, what do you think the odds are that an IT manager or CIO (the folks you want to impress with the cert) has heard of Intel’s program? Here’s a hint: The odds are better that I will win the Kentucky Derby. And I don’t own a horse—just a couple of dogs.

Have you ever heard of Intel certification?

We look forward to getting your input and hearing your experiences regarding this topic. Join the discussion below or send the editor an e-mail.