Over the past few weeks, I’ve watched Prometric roll out its first-ever IT certification: it’s called Cyber Security Essentials. Granted, information security (or information assurance, cyber security, or whatever you’d like to call it yourself) is both an important topic for IT professionals, and an increasingly vital concern for companies and organizations seeking to limit liability and exposure to financial risk through loss, theft, or damage to their information assets and proprietary or confidential data. But what else might be driving Prometric to start producing its own IT certifications, given that their core business is to provide testing services for a broad range of global certification sponsors, professional societies and organizations, and vendors with products, platforms, and frameworks to promulgate and support?
I’ve been pretty curious about this cert since it first saw the light of day a few weeks ago, and was also quite interested to see that Prometric is running a $50 discount off the normal $200 price tag through April 30, 2013 (use discount promo code PROCYBER to get the knock-off). I’ve contacted a PR contact for Prometric at Ogilvy with a longish list of questions about this credential that have yet to be answered, and I hope to learn (and report) more about Cyber Security Essentials in the near future.
But as I got to thinking about what might prompt Prometric to introduce its own credentials into the IT certification mix, I also pondered the following recommendation bullet from the Cyber Security Essentials landing page. The lead-in text for all bullets there reads “Who Should Take This Exam? Cyber Security Essentials is recommended to:…” The bullet that caught my eye reads “Anyone who may have taken CompTIA exams (A+, Network+) and/or who plans to take or recently failed CompTIA Security + Exam, or similar certification exams.” As I read over press releases and promotional prose about this certification (see StepForward Creative’s page about the credential, which that company helped brand and promote at Prometric’s behest), I found these phrases:
- “It will rival the well established CompTIA certification.” (StepForward Creative)
- “Prometric recommends Cyber Security Essentials as a replacement for CompTIA exams…” (GoCertify.com)
I asked myself “Why would Prometric target CompTIA so explicitly?” After a while, I remembered seeing this press release from Pearson VUE last summer entitled “All CompTIA Certification with Pearson VUE,” which leads off as follows “Effective July 9, 2012, CompTIA exams are exclusively with Pearson VUE.” Who knows what kind of deal Pearson VUE had to cut with CompTIA to get them to cut off relations with Prometric and make an exlusive arrangement with them alone? But one thing is for sure: Prometric couldn’t have been too happy about it, what with hundreds of thousands of CompTIA exams being taken annually, and somewhere around half that business prior to the cutoff date likely to have been an important component of Prometric’s bottom line.
Could simple pique be behind the emergence of Cyber Security Essentials? It’s probably not the only motivator that drove Prometric to launch this certification, and it’s probably more motivated by an effort to recapture lost revenue foregone when CompTIA’s test business moved over to Pearson VUE alone. Right or wrong, I can’t help but wonder if Prometric’s move is something of a shot across CompTIA’s bow, and perhaps also a warning to cert sponsors everywhere that yanking their business might draw the test development and delivery giant into direct competition? If we start seeing other certifications from Prometric that address PC troubleshooting, configuration and repair (A+) and networking tools and technologies (Network+), I guess we’ll know for sure!