Sun, Partners Open Java University

For Java developers that want to broaden their horizons, Sun Microsystems Inc. and some of its allies have created together a Java University.

For Java developers that want to broaden their horizons, Sun Microsystems Inc. and some of its allies have created together a Java University.

IBM Corp., Oracle Corp., Novell Inc. and the Sun-Netscape Alliance are the other founding members of this program aimed to train professionals in a cross-section of development suites. The goal is to educate developers to the point where they can move from job to job without losing a step.

"Ranging from programmers who use core Java technologies to developers using skilled enterprise Java technologies, we think this is more productive for Java developers because they only have to certify once," says Sandy Rankin, IBM’s director of Java software. "IBM is a participant since we're providing these technologies as we see a strong increase in server-based applications development in Java."

Some leading Java technology vendors, however, are absent, including Sybase Inc. (www.sybase.com), Inprise Corp. (www.inprise.com) and Symantec Corp. (www.symantec.com). Bill Richardson, vice president and general manager of Sun educational services, says these other vendors will be added over time, explaining that this is still the beginning phase for the educational alliance.

To join the alliance, vendors have to meet certain guidelines. A vendor must support open-systems Java technology, and they must provide exams for one or more of the skill levels and align their programs to the standard roadmap. The companies must recognize the prerequisite exams from the initiative participants. They must have training solutions that support each skill level, and, finally, the company must agree to cross-sell common tests from other vendors.

There are three levels that need to be achieved to become a certified Java programmer under this structure. The first level, called Certified Programmer, requires a proficiency in Java programming and one exam for certification. Level 2 is called Certified Solution Developer: Programmers must demonstrate competency in Java applications development, object-oriented analysis and design with UML. Two exams are required for the second level of certification. Finally there is Certified Enterprise Developer. These students must demonstrate competency with enterprise connectivity with the Java platform and enterprise development with an application server. Two more exams are required for final certification.

Many enterprise development projects have been hampered by a lack of training in building enterprise-level applications, says Tom Dwyer, senior analyst of enterprise Java platforms, Aberdeen Group (www.aberdeen.com). Another problem, explains Dwyer, is that developers go into an operation saying to themselves, "I know what I know and what I don't know I can learn." This testing process gives them the opportunity to know what they need to know so they can learn it and get the vindication for their skill level.

One industry expected to benefit from the new certification is training institutes. Just like the Microsoft tests have spurned all kinds of MCSE and MCSD certification classes, so will the new Java Technology Certification tests. This is a good thing, explains Dwyer, who believes this kind of program is what is needed to mature the Java community. "It'll take things like this to ensure a significant understanding across a wide body of developers," he says.

Certification for level 1 will be available next month. The next two levels of exams will be released this fall. Exams are being distributed through Sylvan Prometric (www.sylvanprometric.com).