Thursday, 29 January 2015

5 things you need to know to pass your TOGAF exam


By Sarah Morgan


TOGAF is the most reliable enterprise architecture standard, utilised by the world’s leading organisations. By using TOGAF in your organisation, you’ll be able to develop an EA that’s flexible, consistent and employs best practices.


To prove you know how to implement the TOGAF EA, you’ll need the certification. And to get it, you’ll have to pass both Level 1 & Level 2 TOGAF exams. You’re going to need to put in the work and know the material - there’s no shortcut around this. Fail one of the exams and you won’t achieve an overall pass result (but you can retake the one you failed).

So, to help get you on the way to that £72,500 Architect role, here are 5 tips to prepare you for your TOGAF 9.1 certification exam success.


1. You'll have to pace yourself in the exam

You have a fixed amount of time to complete the questions in your TOGAF exams. Once the clock starts, there’s no stopping it. To make the most of your time, you need know what you’re up against and how much time you’ve got.

Level 1: 60 minutes and 40 multiple choice questions
Level 2: 90 minutes and 8 scenario questions

You’ll need to keep an eye on the clock to make sure you stay on track. In the Level 1 exam you only have an average of 90 seconds per question to make your decision. If one tough question is slowing your progress, you could end up rushing (or even missing) the others as a result.

If you do get through Level 1 with time to spare, there’s no point in rushing to Level 2. You won’t get more time for the Level 2 section and you won’t be able to return to Level 1 to make any last minute eureka changes.



2. Don’t waste time on questions you can’t answer

There’s no point spending extra time on the trickier questions if there are easier ones you could be answering (they’re all worth the same mark!).

Avoid this by first answering the questions that you know as this will leave you more time for the trickier ones. Mark those you can’t answer quickly (if you absolutely cannot answer it, make your best guess) and after the last question you’ll be able revisit them from the summary page.

Again, only return to the questions you know you’ll be able to answer. You shouldn’t be spending time on hard questions when there are still easier ones waiting.

The pass mark for Level 1 is 55%. That means you’ll only need to answer 22 of the 40 multiple choice questions correctly.



3. How to conquer Level 2 scenarios

Unlike Level 1, the Level 2 exam is open book – you’ll have access to an electronic copy of the specification, built into the Prometric test software.

The Level 2 exam consists of just 8 scenarios, each with 4 possible multiple choice answers. These answers are graded: 5 points for the correct answer, 3 for the next closest, 1 for the next and 0 for the furthest.

Answer every scenario question with the most correct answer and you’ll get 40 points. That’s a full 100%, but with a pass rate of 60% you’ll only need to get 24 points.

To conquer these scenarios you’ll need to take your time to analyse and understand them. Consider which phases of the Architecture Development Method (ADM) cycle are relevant as well as the concerns of the stakeholders.

Image courtesy of  The Open Group blog


Before you make your choice, eliminate the wrong answers and work your way backwards to the most logical and correct answer. If you can eliminate just one wrong answer, you’ll still be earning points for that question.

Lastly, you’ll have access to the TOGAF PDF documentation during level 2. Don’t get too side-tracked in this document as you’ll still have to be smart with your time. It’s a great tool that should be used as a source of reference to assess your own judgement, rather than as a guide.



4. Personal experience isn’t always correct

This one’s for experienced architects. TOGAF is the most widely adopted enterprise architecture, curated by thousands of experts, but it can be tempting to refer to your personal experience when taking the exam. However to pass, you’re going to need to take the word of TOGAF as law.

There’s no room for interpretation here, what matters is the correct implementation of the TOGAF Framework – not what worked for you.



5. You don’t have to pay for great exam resources

Great exam resources don’t have to lighten your wallet. From exam simulators to enterprising eBooks, there’s a massive range of material available online.

We’ve compiled some of our favourites – take a look at this blog for the Top 10 TOGAF resources you don’t have to pay for.



All that’s left for you to do is put in the hard work and ace the exam. Good luck!

Related articles:








About the Author:        
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry. 

Monday, 26 January 2015

Get £500 towards training from the Tech Partnership Training Fund


By Sarah Morgan


The Tech Partnership Training Fund provides funding for employers to invest in IT training. This means you can get a contribution of up to £500 off your Firebrand Training course – or up to £1,000 off an apprenticeship.

The Tech Partnership is a network of employers, collaborating to create the skills to accelerate the growth of the IT industry. The fund has been made available from the Government’s Employer Ownership of Skills Pilot.


£500 towards hundreds of accelerated Firebrand courses

Now not only will you save time on your Firebrand training course, you can also get a £500 contribution via the fund.

We offer courses in all the key areas that the Tech Partnership Fund is actively investing in, meaning you can apply for funding on most Firebrand courses, including : EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), Microsoft MCSA: Windows Server and VMware vSphere 5.5 Fast Track.

Tech Partnership Funding is available across a range of key IT areas. Use the links below to find the training you need, or take a look at hundreds of other accelerated courses:



Show this to your boss

Funding is available per course, per delegate. This could mean massive cost-savings across your business.

Show this to your boss and take advantage of this government-backed scheme: get you and your colleagues trained and certified at twice the speed – while saving £500 each.


Self Employed?

If you're self employed or a contractor, you can still get the £500 funding per course.


How to apply

To get the funding, your business must have an office in England, and the training must be taken at a Firebrand UK training centre.

This is all you need to do:

  1. Once you’ve chosen your Firebrand course, complete the funding application form for short course funding or apprenticeship funding
  2. You’ll then get a letter to confirm if you've been approved (most applications are), which you need to sign and return, along with details of the learner(s)

It’s as simple as that!

You can see samples of the application forms here:
To find out more about the Tech Partnership Training Fund – or for help with the application form - call us on 080 80 800 888.

Note: There are a handful of Firebrand courses that don’t qualify for the funding. Call us now to check that your course is covered.


About the Author:        
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry. 

Friday, 23 January 2015

CompTIA's Network+ is changing!


By Sarah Morgan


CompTIA’s internationally recognised Network+ certification is getting an update this February.

The IT landscape is always changing. And to make sure the Network+ remains a validation of your networking knowledge, it’s changing too.

The new Network+ (N10-006) is set to launch in February 2015 (estimated). You’ll still be able to take the existing Network+ product (N10-005) until 30 August 2015.

What’s new?

CompTIA’s Network+ N10-005 is being phased out and replaced by Network+ N10-006. The N10-006 will be different in three key areas:


1. Updated terms and technologies

CompTIA will be modernising the Network+, making it more in line with modern IT networking.

As a result of this, the Network+ exam will now also prove you possess a ‘basic understanding of emerging technologies including unified communications, mobile, cloud and virtualisation technologies.’


2. An emphasis on hands-on activities

Take the new Network+ and you’ll experience more hands on activities within the following topics: installing, configuring, implementing, managing and troubleshooting.

An example of this hands-on emphasis can be seen in this example of the updated objectives:

Current: N10-005 - Categorise standard media types and associated properties.

New: N10-006 - Install and properly terminate various cable types using appropriate tools.


3. Three new topics

Given the importance of security in modern networking, especially in light high profile attacks this year, the three new topics in the N10-006 all relate to security:
  • 3.4 Compare and contrast physical security controls
  • 3.7 Summaries basic forensic concepts
  • 5.6 Summarise safety practices

The addition of these new topics has also impacted the five Network+ domains and their weighting in the exam (see below).


The Network+ domains are changing.






Are the prerequisites changing?

If you’re ready for the N10-005, you’re ready for the N10-006 too. That’s because CompTIA’s recommended prerequisites are not changing.

Here’s a reminder of what you’ll be expected to possess:

  • CompTIA A+ certification or equivalent knowledge (CompTIA A+ certification is not required)
  • Minimum of nine months’ work experience in IT networking. 

Find out more about how you can get CompTIA Network+ certified here.

Related articles:

About the Author:        
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry. 

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Catch Cisco's TechHuddle in a city near you


By Sarah Morgan


Find out how to transform your IT infrastructure with Fast IT when Cisco’s TechHuddle road show returns in February 2015.


What is the Cisco TechHuddle?

TechHuddle is Cisco’s quarterly technical update, including live events and webinars from across the UK and Ireland. You’ll experience an interactive mix of essential Cisco tech updates and live demos.

These events, specially curated for technologists, are focused on discussion. You’ll be able to share your own experiences, opinions and challenges with like-minded professionals and Cisco experts.






This quarter the TechHuddle is focusing on Fast IT Orchestration with Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) and UCS Director.

Fast IT allows IT departments to shift resources from providing basic services, to focus on innovation. You’ll be able to reduce IT complexity without sacrificing agility and security, addressing the concerns of IT decision-makers.

Instead of focusing on ‘keeping the lights on,’ IT departments can focus on orchestrating strategic outcomes on behalf of the business.



Agenda:

09.30 - Arrival and Coffee

10.00 - Opening and Introduction

10.15 - Fast It - The policy defined Datacentre

We see IT departments having to focus on innovation, shifting resources from “keeping the lights on” to delivering more strategic outcomes for the business. Transitions such as Agile development practices, the rise of the DevOps movement, Software Defined Networking are changing the way we deliver, manage and operate the infrastructure that underpins the businesses IT capability.

10.45 - Making Fast IT a reality

This session will look at the latest Cisco technologies that can be used to make Fast IT a reality. We will look at the components that can be used, how application, networking, security and server teams can use different tools, techniques and technologies to deliver dynamic DataCentre solutions.

11.30 - Break and chat with Cisco Experts

12.00 - Order and provision a 3-tier app

This session will cover the Fast IT concepts needed in building a three-tier web application. It will demonstrate the steps to provide a self-service portal, enabling users to order services and have them automatically delivered and billed. Using ACI and UCS Director, all system, network, security and application configuration is delivered in-line with enterprise policy.

13.15 - Wrap up and final Q&A

13.30 - Lunch and chat with Cisco Experts

14.00 - Close


Catch Cisco at a city near you

Discover the full potential of an agile Cisco environment when the road show makes its way across the UK:

  • Reading - 5th February, 2015 
  • Dublin - 10th February, 2015 
  • London - 10th February, 2015 
  • Glasgow - 11th February, 2015 
  • Manchester - 12th February, 2015 

Specific locations are available on Cisco’s TechHuddle site. Register now to secure your place at this quarter’s TechHuddle roadshow.

About the Author:        
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry. 

Friday, 16 January 2015

Microsoft ends mainstream support for Windows 7


By Sarah Morgan


Mainstream support for Windows 7, the world’s most popular operating system, ended on Tuesday.

Windows 7 is now entering an extended support phase that will continue until at least January 14 2020. After this January date it will take its place aside the now unsupported Windows XP operating system.




What is Extended Support? 

On the 13 January 2015, Windows 7 entered Extended Support. That means support for users will now consist solely of security updates. 

Users will now miss out on free incident support, warranty claims, fixes for non-security bugs, design changes and feature requests. Users will also no longer receive new features or be able to call Microsoft for free tech support regarding issues with the OS.

Essentially, Windows 7 will not be receiving any more significant updates, though security vulnerabilities will still be dealt with. There’s nothing to worry about, so long as you regularly run Windows Update

You can also take a look at the Windows Lifecycle page for additional upcoming sale and support dates covering Microsoft’s desktop operating systems. 


The world’s most popular operating system 

In October 2014 Microsoft ceased shipping Windows 7 to retailers. But despite the operating system now only being available to consumers whilst stocks last, it remains the world’s most popular operating system with over 50% market share. The release of Windows 8 didn’t do much to damage this market share but that’s set to change with the release of Windows 10.

If you’re sticking to an older Windows OS, 2015 is set to be the year to upgrade. Windows 10 is around the corner and with it comes the return of the start menu, as well as a host of other improvements. And if you are running Windows 8, you’ll be able to upgrade to Windows 10 for free





Find out more about what to expect from Windows 10 here.


Related Articles:
About the Author:        
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry. 

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Best Cloud Certifications for 2015


By Sarah Morgan


Certifications are a great way for IT professionals to prove that their knowledge and skills are up-to-date. They can be especially crucial in a fast moving industry like cloud computing, where importance is placed on keeping up with new technology or running the risk of becoming outdated.

Cloud now encompasses hybrid, public and private technologies as well as the software and dedicated hardware that enables these systems to work together. For businesses to reap the full benefits of cloud these systems must be built, maintained and secured by skilled IT professionals.


Taking cloud a bit too literally...
photo by George Thomas, licensed under Creative Commons














 
Industry experience combined with official certification can go a long way to getting you hired by businesses in need of cloud-skilled employees. So, if you need to advance your cloud knowledge or are looking for a career-changing technology in 2015, some of these certifications may be just what you need. Let's take a look at the best cloud certifications for 2015:

1. CompTIA Cloud+

The CompTIA Cloud+ will validate your cloud knowledge and prove you understand the best practices required to work within cloud environments. 

This certification has been designed by CompTIA to act as a career step toward cloud focused roles for experienced network, storage and data administrators. Because of this, it’s recommend you have at least 2-3 years’ experience with networking, storage or data centre administration as well as familiarity with hypervisor technologies. 

With the Cloud+ you’ll prove you can:

  • Understand the available cloud delivery models and services
  • Maintain, implement and provide cloud infrastructure 
  • Explain, identify and implement security techniques
  • Implement and use resource monitoring techniques

The Cloud+ is a well-rounded certification used in a wide range of jobs from cloud engineer to business analyst. 

If you’re more interested in cloud technology from a business and technical perspective, we recommend you take a look at CompTIA’s Cloud Essential certification. This alternative certification focuses on the business value of cloud, steps to successful adoption and the risks and consequences of the technology.


2. Microsoft Specialist: Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions

Microsoft’s Public Cloud service, Microsoft Azure is gaining popularity worldwide with 1000s of new customers joining every day. Microsoft have made a clear commitment to Azure, investing over $15 billion in building and maintaining the datacentres that power the platform.

To complement their cloud portfolio and to encourage Azure uptake, Microsoft introduced two new specialist certifications in 2014.

The first of these – Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions – is focused at IT developers with basic experience in implementing and monitoring Microsoft Azure solutions.
Achieve this certification and you’ll be able to establish your own Azure virtual network environment, construct Azure Virtual Machines, host azure websites and design your own resilient cloud applications.




If you already hold the MCSD: Web Application cert, this qualification is a brilliant way for you to achieve a rounded understanding of the Azure platform.

To achieve the certification you’ll have to pass Microsoft Exam: 70-532. Plus, both specialist certs do not require any pre-requisites as they are not part of Microsoft’s typical certification track.


3. Microsoft Specialist: Implementing Microsoft Azure Solutions

The second of Microsoft’s new specialist Azure certifications is aimed at experienced IT professionals who administer on-premise infrastructure. As such, you’ll be expected to possess an understanding of virtualisation, network configuration, Active Directory, and database concepts.
Complete this certification and you’ll prove your ability to:

  • Implement and manage virtual networking within Azure
  • Plan and create Azure virtual machines
  • Deploy and configure websites in Azure
  • Manage and backup monitor storage solutions

To achieve the certification you’ll have to pass the Microsoft Exam: 70-533. Both specialist certs do not require any pre-requisites as they are not part of Microsoft’s typical certification track.


4. VMware® vSphere 5.5

When it comes to cloud, experience with virtualization technology is "very important, since that's essentially what makes cloud computing more flexible and increases utilization," argues Wendy Duarte, vice president of recruiting at Mondo.

As one of the fundamental technologies powering cloud computing, it’s no surprise that a virtualisation certification would feature on our top 5 list.

VMware’s Mike Adams states the relationship between virtualisation and cloud succinctly, - “Virtualization is a foundational element of cloud computing and helps deliver on the value of cloud computing…Cloud computing is the delivery of shared computing resources, software or data — as a service and on-demand through the Internet."

Products like VMware vSphere allow businesses to cut the cost of their server sprawl by running multiple operating systems and applications on a single computer, which can then be easily accessed remotely.

vSphere 5.5 eliminates the need to run several sub-optimal servers, but as always, it takes skilled IT professionals to implement and manage this powerful technology. So, to sharpen your virtualisation skills or to take the first steps towards bringing virtualisation to your organisation, we recommend you take a look at VMware’s vSphere 5.5 certification

Find out more about vSphere 5.5 here, but bear in mind, this certification may change with the release of vSphere 6 sometime in 2015.


5. Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge (CCSK)

Security is a primary concern for businesses pre and post cloud migration. With the CCSK, you’ll prove you can handle cloud security vulnerabilities.

The CCSK is a web-based certification that tests for a broad knowledge of cloud security and includes topics from architecture, governance, compliance, operations, encryption and virtualisation.

To complete this cert you’ll need to pass the CCSK examination: a 60-question multiple choice exam, completed within 90 minutes. Don’t be fooled by the open-book nature of this assessment - you simply won’t have enough time to research every answer individually (and still pass).

It’s worth noting that the CCSK is not a substitute for other cloud certifications. Instead, the CCSK augments your other credentials by proving your knowledge and competency in cloud computing security.

The CCSK is a great supporting certification for IT professionals holding ISACA’s CISA qualification. CISAs emphasise that the CCSK provides the necessary context and focus to effectively audit cloud environments.
Plus, the CCSK can also be employed effectively aside (ISC)2’s CISSP due to the parallels between both certifications Bodies of Knowledge. Additionally, the CCSK builds upon the CISSP by providing context that is important to the cloud.

Since Cloud Security Alliance first released their Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge (CCSK) in 2010, thousands of IT and security professionals have utilised it as an effective way to upgrade their skills. 


Prove your knowledge

Cloud computing, one of Gartner’s top 10 technology trends for 2015, has already attracted 90% of businesses who now operate using the technology. Cloud’s flexible cost scaling and cost saving has resulted in a massive demand for cloud-ready IT professionals. 

In fact, 65% of IT departments can’t find enough qualified staff to support their cloud projects, report IDC. 

Now you just need the qualifications to prove you can support this in-demand technology.

Related articles:

About the Author:        
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry. 

Friday, 9 January 2015

How to retake your Microsoft exams for free


By Sarah Morgan


Want to become a Microsoft certified professional or master a new Microsoft technology in 2015? Second chances don’t come around every, day but with Second Shot you can now get a free retake for that tricky Microsoft exam.


How to get your free exam retake


Take any MCP exam between 5 January 2015 - 31 May 2015 and if you don’t pass you’ll get a free retake.

Failing your first attempt isn’t fun and it’s even worse when you have to shell out £99 for a retake. Luckily for IT professionals out there who want to get Microsoft certified in 2015, over the next five months, your second attempt will be free.



Plus, Microsoft Second Shot is redeemable for every different exam you take.

To schedule your retake, sign in with your Microsoft account, select your exam from this list and select ‘Schedule now for free.’


Frequently asked questions


Q. Which exams qualify for Second Shot? 

A. Second shot applies to every exam in the MCSA, MCSE, MCSD, Microsoft Specialist and Microsoft Dynamics courses.

However, it does not apply to the MTA and MOS exams as these do not qualify you for the MCP certification. 


Q. How many exams can I take with the offer?

A. You’ll get one free retake for every exam that you do not pass first time. However, the retake must be the same exam as the one you didn’t pass.


Q. Will my free retake expire?

The Second Shot offer is only valid for 30 days from the date of your first exam.


Q. I’m a government employee, can I participate?

A. Due to government gift and ethics laws, government employees (including military and public education employees) are not eligible to participate.


Q. Can I schedule my first attempt and retake at the same time? 

A. No, you will not be able to register for your exam retake until you have taken (and failed) the initial exam.


Q. I missed my initial exam appointment. Can I use Second Shot to schedule a new appointment free of charge?

A. Nope. The free retake offer will only be useable if you do not pass your initial exam (you must attend the exam).

However, if you provide 24 hours notice you will be able to reschedule your first exam. The same applies to your retake (providing your newly scheduled exam is taken prior to Second Shot’s 30 day expiration).


Q. Can I combine Second Shot with other offers?

A. Yes, Second Shot can be combined with other Microsoft offers. Find out more about Microsoft’s current IT training and certification offers here. Or find out more about software assurance training vouchers here.

You can also combine Second Shot with Firebrand offers.


Q. I’m a student eligible for academic exam pricing. Does this offer apply to me too?

A. Yes.


Q. Can I redeem Second Shot for cash or credits?

A. No.


Q. Can I redeem my Second Shot in a different region to the one where I purchased the initial exam?

A. No, Second Shot exams can only be retaken in the same region they were initially purchased.


Related Articles:

About the Author:        
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry. 

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

How to stay ahead: IT skills you'll need in 2015


By Sarah Morgan
When Microsoft Evangelists Ed Baker, Andrew Fryer and Susan Smith began their TechED presentation, they asked a simple question – ‘Are you still doing the same thing at work as you were 5 years ago?’ Attendees replied with an overwhelming No

And undoubtedly, if they asked that question in another 5 years to the same audience of IT professionals, the answer would again be a resounding No

The IT Industry is changing rapidly. Consumers, clients and businesses all expect IT to do more and more. Fail to keep up with new technology and you might find you’re hard earned skills have suddenly become obsolete. 

IT job roles are always changing 
(image courtesy of Microsoft TechED)

The challenge you continue to face in 2015 is this: how will you develop your career and stay 
relevant in a job market that is always changing?

Perhaps the best way is to hear from some of the pioneers themselves, specifically the three Microsoft Evangelists who spoke at 2014’s TechED on the panel titled: ‘Career Development: Next roles, Next skills and Staying Relevant in an evolving IT World’ 

What did Ed Baker, Andrew Fryer and Susan Smith have to say? What cutting-edge technologies do they have their eye on? Here's how to stay ahead with the IT skills you'll need in 2015.

Data Science 


Andrew Fryer, Microsoft Technical Evangelist UK, spoke about Data Science, dubbed 2015’s hottest profession.

Tech firms like Google, Amazon and Netflix are already using data science. But now non-tech companies, like Wal-Mart and Gap, are beginning to awaken to the benefits of data scientists.

But how would it help out your organisation? Well, you’ve likely backed up data, made logs of your website and recorded how your servers are running. And now it’s just sitting there, gathering dust. A data scientist would sift through this to find a previously hidden insight into what’s going on inside your business.

Data Scientists use a number of tools like Real Time Analytics, Big Data, Data Mining, Open Source and Machine Learning technologies to achieve their goals.

How do data scientists achieve their goals?
(image courtesy of Microsoft TechED)
To become a data scientist, explains Andrew, you’ll need skills in business knowledge, maths and statistics. On top of this, you’ll need to be infinitely curious.

‘This is all about experimentation and play…working out what might work and then rigorously testing it. That technique works really well if you have knowledge of business and maths.’


What you'll need to succeed as a data scientist 
(image courtesy of Microsoft TechED)



Andrew highlights Microsoft Azure machine learning (computers acting without being explicitly programmed) as a particularly good tool for taking raw data and making accurate predictions (take a look at his demo at 13:44).

Andrew has spent 15 years working in the business intelligence field and describes data science as ‘a big market for everybody.’ Data Scientists are now massively in-demand and make a good living. As Andrew simply puts it – ‘[he] gets nice holidays.’



Enterprise Mobility


Enterprise mobility describes the shift in work habits where more employees now work out of the office, using mobile and cloud services to perform their business tasks.

As the BYOD (bring-your-own-device) culture continues to take hold of the workplace and with the rise of wearable technology, more IT professionals are needed to keep these devices secure.

‘Mobility has been around for a long time, and security issues have always been present’ states Ed Baker, Microsoft UK Technical Evangelist.

‘All devices have massive amounts of data that we need to secure…and manage.’ So, argues Ed, the methods we implement to control this valuable data need to be managed.

But how will you manage (and secure) this new environment of enterprise mobility?

To begin with, states Ed, you’ll need security skills: ‘If you lose your data as an organisation, not only are you going out of business but you’re probably going to get fined, jailed or both, depending on what type of data…What we need is total control over our data.’

And to be able to do this, states Ed, we need to enable some form of Device Management through hybrid or cloud only technology. But to do this, IT pros will also need to develop their networking skills to implement group policies and maintain the security of your data.

Enterprise mobility skills 
(image courtesy of Microsoft TechED)





Take a look at 29:31 for Ed’s Enterprise Mobility from the user perspective demo.



DevOps


Necessitated by the IT industries rapid release cycles, DevOps is a ‘collaboration where Developers and Operations work together for continuous improvement.’

So collaboration is key, but how do you achieve it? According to Susan, Dev Ops is more than just application lifecycle management: it’s about maintaining and supporting your application after it’s been deployed.

But what do DevOps job specifications desire? As Susan revealed during her presentation, the current DevOp job postings are looking for skills in:

  • Conflict resolution
  • Scripting (Linux, Windows etc)
  • Infrastructure as Code – being able to automate your application environment
  • Collaboration
  • Security - to create compliant apps

Key skills you'll need to succeed as a DevOp
(image courtesy of Microsoft TechED)





Don’t feel put out if you don’t have every skill listed. What’s really important, according to Susan, is a broad knowledge of both Developer and Operations roles.

However, actions speak louder than words and Susan recommends that you become active within the DevOps community. Speaking at events, attending meet-ups and becoming prominent in the DevOps space will be a massive bonus to anybody seeking this kind of role.

To get DevOps moving in your organisation, take a look at this useful article from ZDnet.


Will your role change?

There you have it, three IT skills to keep an eye on in 2015, straight from the pioneers themselves.

Will your role in 2015 be affected by data science, enterprise mobility or DevOps? If so we’d love to hear from you, and if not – how else will your role be changing in the new year?


About the Author:        
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry. 

Friday, 2 January 2015

Certifications to start your IT Career in 2015


 By 

Looking to start your IT career in 2015? Check out this list of the top entry level certifications to help secure your first job in the field of IT. Completing any one of these will prove you have the associated skill set necessary to perform in a range of entry level IT jobs.

Microsoft entry level certifications

MicrosoftIf you're considering a career in technology then it's almost a certainty you'll end up working with Microsoft technologies. The MTA certification (Microsoft Technology Associate) is Microsoft's introductory track addressing a wide spectrum of fundamental technical concepts.

The MTA is split into three tracks which you can follow depending on your interests and career goals:


  • MTA IT Infastructure track - if you want to build a career in desktop, server infrastructure or private cloud computing this is the track for you. Hone your skills around window desktop and server operating systems, networking and security.
  • MTA Database track - this track is for those chasing a career in business intelligence or data platform administration and covers database fundamentals.
  • MTA Developer track - for those looking to become a software developer, this track prepares you to get hands on with Microsoft tech. Choose from a range of training to develop fundamental skills in software development, gaming, HMTL5, .NET, software testing and web development. 
Passing just one exam will gain you an MTA certification and prepare you for the more advanced MCSA, MCSE and MCSD certification tracks. Though it's important to note the MTA is not required as a prerequisite certification to the more advanced tracks.

Cisco entry level certifications

Cisco
If you are interested in starting a career as a networking professional, attaining a Cisco certification is a huge step in making this a reality. As well as being a global technology leader specializing in networking and communications, Cisco has one of the most popular and widely recognised certification programs in the IT Industry.

The CCENT credential (Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician) will be your ideal starting point. Attaining the CCENT certification proves you have the ability to install, maintain, secure and troubleshoot small networks. 

This will qualify you to get a job as a network or help desk technician, whilst also acting as the prerequisite for Cisco's Associate level certifications like the CCNA and CCDA.


CompTIA entry level certifications

CompTIACompTIA are a non profit trade association providing a range of globally recognized, vendor neutral certifications. Their most popular certifications are the A+ and Network+ certifications:

  • A+ certification - achieving this credential shows you have a solid skills foundation in software and hardware. This course is designed to reflect the skills needed to excel as a computer support professional and has been adopted by HP and IBM as a requirement for all their technical staff. The A+ credentials is so popular it recently passed the 1 million mark for individuals attaining the certification.
  • Network+ certification - this is a fantastic alternative to Cisco certification for those considering a career in Networking. The Network+ credential proves you have the skills and knowledge to configure and operate a variety of networking products.
Take a combined A+ and Network+ course with Firebrand and attain both certifications in just 7 days.


So there you have it, the top certifications to kick start your IT career in 2015, what are you waiting for?


Author Profile

As part of Firebrand's global marketing team, Edward actively works to serve the IT community with news, reviews and technical how to guides. Working in the Industry for almost 3 years, Edward has a wide variety of experience with Microsoft Technologies including SharePoint, Windows Server and Exchange Server. Edward is an active member of the IT community contributing to a variety of tech publications including Microsoft TechNet, Channel Pro and PC Advisor.

Friday, 19 December 2014

How Firebrand’s new Level 4 IT Apprenticeships can get your business £10,000


By Sarah Morgan


Firebrand Training is excited to announce an expansion to our Apprenticeship portfolio. Developed with the Government’s Trailblazer project, you can now grow your business with Level 4 IT Apprentices from Firebrand.

You’ll be able to choose from a shortlist of talented young adults, ready to grow your business. They get two years of government funded IT training worth £27,000, a weekly starting salary of £150 and your business gets incentives of £2,700 to £10,800.


Train qualified staff on professional programs

Firebrand’s Level 4 IT Apprenticeships are available right now. Your apprentice can take the following two year training programmes:

  • Cisco CCNA Routing & Switching

    Your apprentice will develop into the role of Network Engineer. They will learn how to design, install, maintain and support communications and get certifications like the Cisco CCNA. But that’s just a fraction of what they’ll learn – find out more now.

  • Microsoft Network Engineer (MCSA)

    On this programme your apprentice will learn the principles of networking and gain well-known industry certifications like the CompTIA A+ & N+, ITIL Foundation and the Microsoft MCSA: Windows 8.1

  • Software Developer

    Firebrand will develop your apprentice into the role of Software Developer. They’ll learn how to build, manage and deploy code within enterprise environments and will become high quality developers within your organisation. Plus, they’ll get professional certifications like the MCSD: Web Applications and the MCSA: SQL Server.

  • Bespoke

    Work with Firebrand to build your perfect program and create an ideal new employee. In 2015, we will be launching more level 4 apprentice tracks, including custom and bespoke programmes.


How a Level 4 Apprentice will plug the skills gap in your business

IT skills are in short-supply – the EU predicts a shortfall of 700,000 IT roles by 2015. With this shortage, it’s no surprise that businesses across the UK are struggling to find qualified new staff.

With strong backing from the UK government, the apprenticeship scheme is tackling the skills gap – making it easier for your business to get bright young employees on board. The Skills Funding Agency has announced an additional £40m to fund apprenticeship places, as well as an extra £20m to fund the higher educational element.

Level 4 Apprenticeships combine the best of on-the-job training with high level qualifications. These apprentices will give you the knowledgeable workforce your business needs to grow. In fact, 25% of employers in England rate qualified higher apprentices as 25% more employable than those who took an alternative route to work.

Hire an apprentice and you’ll quickly train someone to understand exactly how your business works. You can also develop existing staff as they work with your apprentice, through mentoring opportunities and more.




Find out more about the benefits of higher apprenticeships here.

Level 4 Apprenticeships Accelerated

We’ve worked with the Government’s Trailblazer project to bring you Level 4 Apprenticeships. And as always, we will be delivering them the Firebrand way: solid training weeks for your apprentice and more uninterrupted time spent working for their employer.



Here’s how it works:

1. We advertise your vacancy and create a shortlist of candidates, matching your business needs, for you to interview

2. Your apprentice will get 23 to 38 days of accelerated Firebrand training and IT industry standard certifications like: Cisco CCNA, Microsoft MTA Networking Fundamentals, MCSA: Windows 8.1 and ITIL Foundation v3. With accelerated learning, your apprentice will be qualified in half the time.

3. You’ll pay just £6,000 to £9,000 over two years with the government contributing double what you pay. You’ll be able to spread the payment over 18 months (interest free) and the Government will also pay you £2,700 to £10,800 in incentives.

Get access to 1,000s of applicants looking for work right now - find out more about taking on an apprentice with Firebrand’s one and two-year programs here.

But that’s not all.

Turn a talented university graduate into an IT professional, fast

If you’re looking for a more experienced employee, why not hire a graduate straight from university? Firebrand graduates all have a STEM (science, technology, engineering or maths) degree and are more than ready to enter the IT industry.

To find out more about growing your business with talented university graduates, register your interest here.

Related articles:


About the Author:        
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry. 

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Best IT certifications for 2015


By Sarah Morgan


Getting certified is a brilliant way to prove that you are as skilled as you say you are. But a certification doesn’t stand alone – if you can’t apply it, what’s the point? Now that 2014 draws to an end, let’s take a look at some of the best IT certifications for 2015 that will advance you to the next stage in your career.

The need for qualified IT professionals is now massively outpacing the supply – it’s estimated that Britain alone will need 500,000 new IT professionals over the next five years. And with the widespread uptake of technologies, like Cloud and virtualisation, getting certified in 2015 really will make all the difference.

2014 saw a barrage of cyber-attacks inflicted upon businesses around the world. In fact, more organisations fell victim to cybercriminals in 2014 than 2013, the US State of Cybercrime revealed. And reports are already predicting an increase in cybercrime for 2015.

So from security to cloud and project management qualifications - getting certified for 2015 could be one of the best decisions you make next year. Here's our list of the best IT certifications for 2015.


1. Microsoft MCSA: Windows Server 2012 

Support for Windows Server 2003 ends July 14th, 2015. Using the system after end of support could cost you up to £120,000 a year in custom support. You will also lose the ability to process online transactions via Visa & Mastercard as Windows Server 2003 will fail to adhere to PCI compliance.

Despite warnings from Microsoft, estimates from HP suggest 11 million systems are still running Windows Server 2003. This could be a cripple your business, come 2015, considering the estimated 3 to 18 months it takes to migrate a datacentre of 100+ servers.

Thousands of businesses will now be migrating to Windows Server 2012, making the MCSA: Windows Server 2012 certification a valuable asset. Get this cert and you’ll reduce the hassle of migration and be able to make the most of your new server software faster.

Start planning your migration today (if you haven’t already) and make it a smooth process for your organisation by taking the MCSA: Windows Server 2012 course.


2. EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker

There was a 50% chance you were a victim of cybercrime in 2014, data from Microsoft revealed. The same is true for one-in-five small and medium businesses.

Certifications like EC-Council’s CEH are now becoming increasingly sought after for businesses of all sizes. After all, nobody wants to face a crippling security breach like Sony’s recent attack.

Protect your business from cyber attacks like this (image from Sony's recent breach)



























Take on the CEH in 2015 and you’ll get comprehensive ethical hacking and networking security training. On this course you’ll learn how to conduct penetration tests against your own systems. With the knowledge of a hacker at your disposal, you’ll identify and close security holes that a cybercriminal could otherwise exploit.

The CEH certification also qualifies you for a wide range of roles within IT security from Forensics Analyst to Application Security architect.


3. (ISC)2 CISSP

In the past year alone, cyber security vacancies have doubled with demand now overwhelming supply, according to data from Technojobs.

The CISSP is a global standard and widely recognised as the information and cybsersecurity benchmark cert. Achieve it and you’ll display solid proof of your rounded IT security experience as well as a common baseline and standardisation of knowledge.


Certifications like the CISSP are in demand (2014 saw a 10% growth in the average salary for cyber security professionals) as they are frequently required for the majority of senior roles within cyber security.


Protect your organisation from IT security threats of all kinds - find out how to become a CISSP.


4. Microsoft MCSA: Office 365

Take the Microsoft MCSA: Office 365 and position yourself to take advantage of Microsoft’s new Cloud focus. This is also your first step to achieving Microsoft’s new Cloud Productivity competency for your business.


Achieve this certification and you’ll use the power of the cloud to save time, money and free up your business’s resources. You’ll get the skills required to set up an Office 365 tenant, including federation with existing user identities. If you evaluate, deploy and maintain Office 365 services, or plan to in the future – this is the course for you.



5. VMware® vSphere 5.5 

Businesses continue to embrace virtualisation technology as a way to reduce cost and complexity of critical applications. ‘The always-on-business will become the norm across the globe’ writes Don Williams, Vice president at Veeam Software.

Users want continuous access and to keep up, businesses have turned to virtualisation technologies to provide this. Products like VMware’s vSphere enable businesses to virtualise their server resources and aggregate them into logical pools for use across the entire business.

vSphere 5.5 is the fix for costly infrastructure sprawl as it allows your business to run multiple operating systems and applications on a single computer. Gone are the days of having multiple servers running at sub-optimal capacity - virtualisation technology gives increased productivity by reducing physical servers and ensuring each is running at full capacity.

Learn how to apply virtualisation technology within your organisation in 2015, with VMware’s official vSphere 5.5 certification. Find out more here, but bear in mind, this certification may change with the release of vSphere 6 sometime in 2015.


6. Microsoft Specialist: Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions 

Cloud technology is growing and demand for Cloud qualified professionals is growing with it. In 2014, 56% of IT departments couldn’t find qualified staff to support their cloud projects and demand for ‘cloud-ready’ IT professionals is also set to grow by 26% in 2015, IDC reports.

Microsoft's Public Cloud offering, Microsoft Azure, continues to grow with more than 1000 new customers joining everyday. After investing $15 billion in building and maintaining the global datacentres that power the Azure platform, it’s clear Microsoft have big plans in the Public Cloud space for 2015. You can tap into the demand for cloud skilled professionals by looking at the newly released Microsoft Specialist certifications focusing on the Azure platform.



If you’re a developer, the Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions certification is a brilliant way to gain a greater understanding of the Azure platform in 2015. This specialist course, built for developers, teaches you how to establish your own Azure virtual network environment, construct Azure Virtual Machines, host azure websites and design resilient cloud applications.

If you already hold the MCSD: Web Applications cert, this qualification is a brilliant way for you to get a rounded understanding of the Azure platform for 2015.

To achieve the certification you’ll have to pass the Microsoft Exam: 70-532.


7. Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions

This is the second of Microsoft’s new specialist Azure certifications. With it, you’ll learn how to migrate your on-premise infrastructure to Azure. You’ll also learn how to:
  • Plan and implement data services based on SQL
  • Deploy and configure websites
  • Publish content through CDNs
  • Integrate on premise Windows AD with Azure AD
To achieve the certification you’ll have to pass the Microsoft Exam: 70-533.


8. APMG PRINCE2

PRINCE2 is the de-facto standard for project management in the UK and is held by 63% of all project management professionals. With over a million exams taken globally, it’s already recognised as the world’s most popular project management methodology.

This qualification covers the management, control and organisation of a project. It embodies years of project management best-practice and provides a flexible and adaptable framework that suits different projects.

The PRINCE2 remains a sought-after certification for 2015 as employers continue to demand this qualification for their project management roles.


9. Microsoft MCSE: Private Cloud

The MCSE: Private Cloud certification focuses on the skills to combine Windows Server and System Centre 2012 to build a private cloud for your business. This certification requires the MCSA: Windows Server 2012 as a prerequisite. 

To boost the uptake of this already popular cert, Microsoft have launched various initiatives to help IT professionals get the prerequisites for this in-demand cloud certification.

To find out more about how to get the MCSE: Private Cloud certification, check out Microsoft Evangelist, Keith Mayer’s step-by-step guide. Or, if self-study isn’t for you, take a look at this accelerated course.


10. CompTIA A+

Many an IT professional’s career has been built upon the solid foundations of the CompTIA A+ certification. In fact, over 1,000,000 people have achieved the A+ in the past 20 years.

Major brands - like Dell, HP and Lenovo – require that their technicians are A+ certified in order to service their products. It’s even supported by government branches like the US Department of Defence.

The skills you’ll get from this certification are vendor neutral, meaning they’ll remain universally applicable across your entire IT career.

If you’re new to IT then this cert is one of the best ways to break into the industry. Take the CompTIA A+ and set yourself up with a comprehensive base of IT knowledge for 2015.


If we missed any great certifications you’re planning on taking in the New Year, please comment below!

We supported our best IT certifications for 2015 with a lot of our popular blogs from 2014, take a look at them below:



About the Author:        
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry.