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Users eager for Domino 6 certification

The release of Domino 6 is still several months away, but Domino users are already champing at the bit for their next certificate. Developers say they need certifications "to get in the door," and then they can show off their real-work skills.

Lotus hasn't even released Domino 6 yet, but Domino users are already champing at the bit for their next certificate. However, few administrators and developers feel much pressure to take on J2EE, the Java standard underlying the updated platform.

According to a SearchDomino poll, 38% of Domino professionals are ready to take a Domino 6 certification test. And 66% of users in a previous poll said they need Domino 6 certification to keep their careers on track.

"Any contract that understands the Lotus Notes environment usually requires that their consultants are certified," said Randy Kuehntopp, owner of NotesDoctors.com, a Domino consulting firm based in Westminster, Colo. "You must have at least CPL [Certified Lotus Professional certification] to get in the door."

Only then do developers get the chance to show off their real-world experience.

Kuehntopp's R4 and R5 certificates -- Professional CLP (PCLP) for Application Development, and CLP for System Administration -- earned him his current jobs at a major health insurance company and at a securities firm. But he said his actual work experience is what is helping him retain his clients.

Still, most developers and admins are going to need certification to demonstrate their proficiency with the brand new Domino.

Lotus said it still plans to release Domino 6 in Q3 2002. That means users will have to wait until August to take a Domino 6 certification course from Lotus, as Lotus plans to have the courses out one-to-two months before the final release.

By then, many large and mid-size companies will be wanting to move to Domino 6 for its improved multitasking and support for mobile users, as well as better reliability, scalability and performance for administrators.

"The [Domino 6] certification will go a long way to assuring our clients we can help them build or migrate their systems and applications to Domino 6," said John Vester, principal analyst at Indianapolis, Ind.-based consultancy Meritage Technologies.

Domino pros also plan to use their new certification and knowledge of Domino 6 to sell their clients on an upgrade from R4 or R5.

"I will definitely be getting PLCP in Domino 6," said Peter Heigham, a UK-based Domino consultant with Domino R4 and R5 PCLP certification. "It will help me to stay on with my current clients, as well as getting new business."

Heigham is migrating pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline from Microsoft Exchange to Notes/Domino R5.06. He hopes GSK will also want him to upgrade its messaging system to Domino 6.

Lotus, meanwhile, is enlisting admins and developers to help it pitch Domino 6 to the enterprise. The Power of IBM Lotus Notes and Domino 6 is a daylong, $400-plus Lotus seminar that trumpets the upgrade's many enhancements for end-users and administrators.

But users are already saying "no thanks" to Lotus-sponsored, instructor-led seminars like The Power.

"Domino 6 has a lot of new features, many of which we have been begging for," said NotesDoctor's Kuehntopp. "But the learning curve will not be as great for core Lotus Notes applications."

Consultants at NotesDoctors plan to take Lotus' preparatory courses, but Kuehntopp said most of their training will be hands-on, and with the aid of Lotus books, papers and articles.

None of the developers interviewed for this story said they were planning to bone-up on J2EE, which developers can use to build and deploy Web-based enterprise applications.

"You must have experience with the latest technology before you can serve your customers," Kuehntopp said. "It's our job to bring that experience to the table, and to help in future planning."

But Kuehntopp's customers are not even contemplating J2EE applications at this moment.

"So," he said, "we're not going there for a while."

Mark Baard is a freelance writer based in Milton, Mass.

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