IT Career JumpStart

Jan 23 2013   2:37PM GMT

When Tech Support Goes Whole Certification Hog, EVERYBODY Eats the Dog Food

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

There’s an old saying in the high-tech industry that goes like this “Here, we eat our own dog food.” Cryptic or unappetizing though it may sound (except to dogs, no doubt) this refers to a level of commitment to the technology that an organization adopts, espouses, and usually also sells to the point where they themselves use the same tools, technologies, or platforms that they’re trying to sell to their customers. I saw a very interesting example of that in a recent press release posted to Anne Martinez’s GoCertify.com entitled “Overture Technical Support Achieves MEF Professional Certification.”

The Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) certifies equipment, services, and people.

The Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) certifies equipment, services, and people.

Understanding what this really means requires some explanation:

  • Metro Ethernet is a technology that permits communications carriers to use Ethernet Layer 1 and 2 protocols to make networking connections across their infrastructures. In turn, this makes providing fast (up to 1 GB or higher) external network connections to the Internet and local infrastructures easy, and also integrates well with typical Ethernet-based in-house networking infrastructures. Metro Ethernet is a specific implementation of what is also known as Carrier Ethernet (which takes normal Ethernet and adds carrier-grade reliability, resilience, and recovery capabilities to its already impressive arsenal of technical characteristics. For more information on this fascinating and fast-growing technology area see my book Carrier Ethernet For Dummies (free PDF download from Ciena Corp requires registration to obtain an e-mail link).
  • Overture is a company that specializes in “Carrier Ethernet edge and aggregation partner[ing] to hundreds of service providers and network operators worldwide.” That is, their primary business focus is Metro Ethernet/Carrier Ethernet. Thus, their announcement that they are “…moving toward full MEF professional certification for all customer-facing employees…” makes pretty good sense, and explains why the company started by getting its entire tech support team certified, along with some of the company’s field service engineers, “…with full compliance expected within the coming year.” In fact, Overture “…is one of only five companies with ten or more MEF Certified Carrier Ethernet Certified Professionals…” worldwide, and also counts product managers, plus system and product development engineers among its MEF-certified staff members.
  • The Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) is an industry association for Carrier Ethernet equipment, services, and professionals. Its self-professed charter is to accelerate “…the adoption of Carrier Ethernet.” Founded by one of Ethernet’s inventors, Dr. Bob Metcalfe, the organization has been active for a decade. Today it represents a $25B annual market for equipment and services, with market size anticipated to reach $47B by 2015. A very big business, in other words. The MEF is also “the defining body for Carrier Ethernet” and also “develops Carrier Ethernet technical specifications and implementation agreements to promote interoperability and deployment of Carrier Ethernet worldwide.” This positions them ideally to offer the various types of programs they provide to certify equipment, services, and people. Currently the organization offers a single personnel cert called the MEF Carrier Ethernet Certified Professional (MEF-CECP), as the first in a planned series of MEF professional credentials.

The whole-company (or “whole technical staff”) approach to professional certification approach still remains pretty rare. But it’s something I expect to see more of, as increasingly large sectors in high-tech (and IT) fall under various specific and well-defined certification umbrellas.

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