At BrainShare 2008 in March, Novell introduced a set of Linux certifications for administrators. Rather than being directed at higher-end Linux managers, like the Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) or Novell's own Novell Linux Certified Engineer (NLCE), the new certifications are meant for entry-level Linux administrators, one step above the Linux Professional Institute's entry-level LPIC-1.
The first of the SUSE Linux-based certifications is the Certified Linux Administrator (CLA). This, according to Jim Henderson, Novell's global manager of instructor programs, in a blog posting, measures your Linux knowledge but not necessarily your skill at applying that knowledge.
Henderson says, "The CLA is a test designed to let the candidate demonstrate knowledge, not skills. The primary focus is to let people know that Linux isn't hard -- that's a myth. It's just different than what they may be used to (NetWare, Windows, Mac, etc.)."
The other certifications are more useful for actually getting a Linux job. The Novell Certified Linux Desktop Administrator (CLDA) also measures knowledge rather than hands-on skill, but it's pointed straight at the growing field of Linux desktop administration.
The Novell Certified Administrator (NCA) is a high-level Linux version of the venerable Certified NetWare Administrator (CNA) certification. Like its ancestor, this certification focuses on administering network and server resources and services. In contrast to the CNA, the NCA, as Henderson says, "focuses on a wider range of products, but with fairly shallow knowledge in each (after all, it is a five-day course; how much depth can [students] get for four or five complex products in that time period?)." Like the others, this is a forms-based test rather than one that measures how well you'd do with a smoking server and 20 calls stacked up on the help desk.
The final new certification, the Novell Certified Engineer - Enterprise Services (NCE-ES -- focuses on the Linux side of Novell Open Enterprise Server 2. Here, Henderson says, the focus is "on doing rather than on knowing." As such, this certification is the one that's most likely to prove helpful for someone looking for a high-end Linux administrator job.