A long time ago… about a year, in fact… Jason HelmickÂ and I started talking about a community-owned PowerShell “certification.” It went nowhere. Well, not very far.
Some background on exams: Microsoft, in my opinion, will never do a PowerShell cert. I say this having been part owner of a company that did outsourced exam development for the company. The deal is that Microsoft tries to certifyÂ job tasks,Â notÂ tools.Â Nobody (well, maybe me) wakes up thinking, “gonna do me some PowerShell today.” No, PowerShell is the means to an end: “gonna automate me some user creation today” is more likely. And Microsoft tries to certify that end. PowerShell’s an important tool, and it already shows up on certification exams here and there.
For the most part, I agree with Microsoft’s reasoning, there. The argument can be summarized as saying “bosses don’t hire IT pros based on their ability to operate a low-level tool, they hire them to perform job tasks, whichÂ encompasses the tool.” Except that, in the case of PowerShell, I think it’d beÂ tremendously useful for an employer to use PowerShell expertise as a discriminating factor in hiring. I mean, “someone who can automate stuff” is more valuable than “someone who can only do stuff manually,” in any situation.
So “PowerShell Verified” was intended to be a way for someone to prove – at least to themselves – that they’ve taken their PowerShell skillsÂ to the minimum level necessary to be an effective automator.Â Not a guru. Not an expert. Not Poshoholic.Â Minimally effective,Â who could then grow from there with experience.
So that’s what I’m going to put together.
I want to explain why I’m not using the word “Certification,” though. In my mind, certifications come from, mainly, first-parties like Microsoft. Microsoft has to jump through a lot of hoops to make sure their exam content is accurate, legally defensible, blah blah blah. They worry about security, brain dumps, and other stuff that diminishes the value of the certification. I don’t have that kind of bandwidth or their resources, so in many ways my little program will be less effective than a “real” certification. Plus, few bosses will give a rat’s patooty what that Don Jones guy said about your skillz (I can’t even convince bosses to buy you guys 12-core 64GB workstations for your desk). So my “Verified” program is going to beÂ low stakes,Â meaning you take it to prove something toÂ yourself.
Here’s how this is going to go.
How You Can Help
First, I’m attaching a doc with the general program description. Drop a comment in here after you read it, and tell me what you think.Â PowerShellVerifiedÂ (it’s a Word doc).
Second, the cost on this is going to be in the neighborhood of $100. There’s some infrastructure that has to support this, because it’s aÂ practical, hands-on exam using the actual productÂ running in a cloud-based virtual environment. To the cloud!
Third, let me know if you’d like to participate in a LiveMeeting where I’ll cover the general approach of the test scenario, and gather your feedback. This is appropriate mainly if you’re pretty high-level in your org – senior IT, IT management, etc. In the comment, give me a way to contact you (Twitter’s fine). YouÂ will be asked to sign a Nondisclosure Agreement (NDA) prior to that LiveMeeting, which will be in January sometime, I think.
Fourth, let me know if you’d like to beta test this. I’m only taking 2-3 people for this. For logistical reasons, you need to be in the US (mainly to keep time zone coordination from becoming a hassle) and you need to have a Twitter handle. Drop that handle in a comment if you’d like to beta. That’ll be free.
Now, for a bit of background. This first-go will verify what I callÂ toolmaker competency. That means you have the skills needed to write and deploy high-level tools across your organization, particularly those which involve delegated administration. The scenarioÂ will be slightly artificial, but that’s so that it can include a number of underlying objectives that test the breadth of your PowerShell knowledge. That said, the overall skill set you’ll have to demonstrate will beÂ very real-world. No esoteric stuff, here, just techniques you’d actually deploy for real-real. I know there are aÂ lot of other things that could be tested; this is where I’m choosing to start because I can make it relatively constrained, and therefore automate the grading process somewhat.
The focus of the exam will be onÂ PowerShell.Â Not AD, not Exchange, not anything domain-specific. The intent is PowerShell competency, not your super guru-ness with some other product.
Alright. Let me know what you think.