Re: Do these certifications even do anything?
I had an MCSE parachuted in above me at one point early in my career. Turns out he'd never done anything outside of the labs so his troubleshooting and fix skills were pretty poor. I ended up training him.
Similar story with a CCNA I worked with. He got all exited that he'd get to work on real Cisco kit rather than just labs stuff. Again he wasn't especially useful in a crisis. But then what do you expect from someone who's only experience in networking was a 2 week crash-course?
Then I met a Checkpoint chap but he knew his stuff inside and out.
I bought a set of MCSE books years ago but never bothered with the exams. I prefer knowing best practice and then combining that with experience (both mine and that of my colleagues).