Thursday, 5 March 2015

5 PRINCE2 myths you might still believe


By Sarah Morgan


PRINCE2 is the most popular project management certification in the world, but it’s not immune to misconceptions and myths. It’s crucial that you know the facts – believe the myths and you might miss out on the career boost you need.

How much do you really know about PRINCE2? Here are our top 5 PRINCE2 myths you might still believe:


Myth #1 - You have to write an essay for the PRINCE2 Foundation exam

Timed essays can be a nerve-wracking experience - often feeling like a test of endurance rather than knowledge.

You might be relieved to learn that several years ago the PRINCE2 Foundation dropped its essay style examination in favour of a multiple-choice test. Plus, even if you originally passed the essay style Foundation exam and are attempting a recertification, you will instead take the multiple choice examination.

However, it’s worth noting that the PRINCE2 Practitioner exam is not multiple-choice and instead consists of eight 10 mark questions.

The current PRINCE2 certification exams are structured as follows:

PRINCE2 2009 Foundation Exam
Multiple choice format
60 minutes duration
75 questions
5 trial questions not counted in score
35 of 70 (50%) marks required to pass

PRINCE2 2009 Foundation Exam
Open-book examination
8 x 10 mark questions
44 of 80 (55%) marks required to pass
2.5 hours


Myth #2 - PRINCE2 is only for professionals in the IT industry

PRINCE2 is not just applicable to the IT industry. The opposite is true: PRINCE2 is a generic project management methodology that can be applied to any project across any industry.

In fact, this adaptable and flexible approach is a major contributor to PRINCE2’s global popularity. With over 1 million exams taken in over 150 countries, a huge number of industries are clearly taking advantage of the PRINCE2 methodology.

The myth that PRINCE2 only applies to IT likely originates from the first use of the methodology. Originally developed as ‘PRINCE’ in the 1980’s to support the UK Government’s IT projects, its potential was soon realised. As a result, in 1996, the generic and adaptable PRINCE2 we know today was introduced.


Myth #3 - PRINCE2 is only useful for project managers looking for a job

You’ll find a large number of project manager job adverts specifying the need for candidates to possess the PRINCE2. The notion that the PRINCE2 certification is just a means of finding employment is held by some of the more cynical.


Yoel / morgueFile

While it is true that the PRINCE2 will help qualify you for project management jobs, this is by no means the only benefit of the certification. The skills you learn from PRINCE2 will improve your projects, save your organisation money and cut project overrun.

Find out about the benefits of PRINCE2 (and how to convince your manager to pay for it!) in this blog post.


Myth #4 - You need a lifetime of project management experience to take a PRINCE2 course

There are no solid prerequisites to attend a course and pass the PRINCE2 Foundation exam. This certification is open to everyone and you don’t need any prior qualifications or real world experience.

Whether you’re a project management professional, or are looking for a change of career, there’s nothing stopping you from getting the PRINCE2 Foundation certification. Though, as you might expect, you must have passed the PRINCE2 Foundation exam to take on the Practitioner.

There’s nothing stopping you from getting both PRINCE2 certifications, but to make the most of your new certs, you’re going to also need some solid project management experience. The PRINCE2 teaches you a method but it doesn’t cover the real world skills you’ll need to become a successful project manager. The best way to get these skills is through experience.


Myth #5 - PRINCE2 takes too much time

PRINCE2 Foundation & Practitioner courses are generally short (4-5 days) and well worth the investment.

However, for some a five day course is simply too much commitment; you might not be in a position to sacrifice an entire working week (and your manager might not appreciate it either!)

There are even faster routes to getting your PRINCE2 certification. With accelerated learning, you could be both Foundation and Practitioner PRINCE2 certified in only three days. Or attend a weekend course and you’ll only be away from the office for one day.


For more information on PRINCE2 take a look at the Axelos website. Or to get PRINCE2 Foundation & Practitioner certified in just three days, visit our site.


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, 25 February 2015

Sitting a Microsoft exam this year? These changes affect you


By Sarah Morgan


Whether you’re preparing or planning to take a Microsoft exam this year, you need to be aware of these widespread changes.

New exam times

Microsoft is now standardising exam times based on the “type” of exam with the aim of making it easier for students to plan how much time they will need to sit their exam.
The new exam and seat times are below:


Exam time*
Seat time*
MTA exams delivered by Certiport
45 minutes
50 minutes
MTA exams delivered by Pearson VUE
45 minutes
75 minutes
MBS/Dynamics exams
90 minutes
120 minutes
MCSA exams and exams not specified elsewhere
120 minutes
150 minutes
MCSE exams, exams with case studies and upgrade exams
150 minutes
180 minutes
Recertification exams
140 minutes
170 minutes


*Exam time: the amount of time you have to sit the exam

*Seat time: the total amount of time you should allocate for the exam sitting. This includes the time needed to review your instructions, read and sign the NDA, complete the exam questions and provide comments after completion (if you choose to do so).

Big changes for upgrade exams

Across all upgrade exams you will now be able to spend as much time as you want on each component exam, and no time will be lost once a component is completed.

Upgrade exams are formed of several component exams. Before this update, students were given a set amount of time to complete each component. Microsoft initially introduced this to help direct students to spend an equal amount of time on each component. 

For example, the Upgrading Your Skills to MCSA Windows Server 2012 exam is composed of three component exams (70-410, 70-411 and 70-412) and must be completed in 150 minutes. Previously candidates were given a non-negotiable 50 minutes to complete each section and nothing would be gained by finishing one component early.

Candidates are now allowed to use the total 150 minutes as they wish. They could, for example, spend 60 minutes on 70-410, 20 minutes on 70-411 and 60 minutes on 70-412.  

Watch Microsoft’s ACE NewsByte for more information on these changes or take a look at Microsoft’s Born to Learn blog.





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, 19 February 2015

Your chance to talk IT apprenticeships with Microsoft, BCS & The Government


By Sarah Morgan


What do you know about IT apprenticeships? Do you know how to access £10,000s of training, funded by the Government? Or how apprenticeships can up-skill your current employees

You might have heard good things about apprenticeships, but don't know where to start?

This is your opportunity to get your questions answered. Join Firebrand Training and the British Computer Society (BCS) at this free event during National Apprenticeships Week, as we explain how IT Apprenticeships work.

Get your questions answered by leaders in IT and Government, and network with industry experts over lunch. The line-up includes:

Why the Government is backing apprenticeships - Andrew Jones MP

Hear from the Government Apprenticeships Ambassador and find out why the Government has committed £1,000,000s of apprenticeship funding to UK businesses, and how this is being used to help those businesses grow.

What’s it like hiring an apprentice? - Microsoft Apprenticeships

Apprenticeship Lead Dominic Gill will chair a panel discussion with employers and their apprentices, including Microsoft Apprentice Ambassadors. Learn from their experiences, and ask any questions about the programmes and processes.

Get support from the Tech Partnership - John Pritchard

See how the Tech Partnership is helping tech businesses like Capgemini and Visa grow through IT apprenticeships. Plus, find out how the Government’s Trailblazers initiative helps you train and / or hire staff, and build your own apprenticeship programme.

How IT Apprenticeships really work - Firebrand IT Apprenticeships

What will your apprentice learn? How do you access £10,000s in Government funding? What do future programmes look like - such as cyber security and Microsoft Dynamics? Firebrand Apprenticeships Operations Manager, Adrian Davies explains all.


There's limited seating at this free event, running Thursday 12th March. Food and refreshments will be provided. Sign-up now or fill out the form below and find out first-hand how apprenticeships will grow your business.




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, 18 February 2015

How to revise Cisco CCNA for free


By Sarah Morgan


Studying quality revision resources is crucial – when preparing for your CCNA exams. You can’t afford to waste time trawling the web for revision material.

It can be hard to find quality resources that you don’t have to pay for. We’ve previously discussed our top 5 paid CCNA revision books – now it’s time for our top free resources.


Free CCNA video tutorials & guides


High quality video content is an invaluable tool during self-study. Written revision resources are great, but things can get dull (especially after your third cup of coffee!). Video content can provide a welcome respite – you’ll still be learning about CCNA, but in a more passive way.

Plus, you’ll find variety CCNA topics easier to memorise better when accompanied by screen captures and live demonstrations.

There are plenty of quality free guides, how-to’s and tutorials available online. Here’s our pick of the bunch:


Dans Courses 

Dan Alberghetti has been teaching CCNA certification courses through the Cisco Academy for the past 11 years and it shows. You’ll find an abundance of quality video content on Dan’s YouTube channel – just make sure you check the upload date, some videos are now up to five years old! And remember, the new CCNA exam was introduced in 2014 – take a look at most recent updates.





NetworKing 

Though not as comprehensive as Dans Courses, NetworKing provides a series of compelling introductory CCNA videos. You’ll be guided through ten 20 minute videos by the concise and affable Imran Rafal – covering topics from Network fundamentals to Real World Switching.

This is a great resource. However, as many have pointed out, these videos should only be used as a supplementary resource. Relying on just these videos will not give you the breadth of knowledge you need to pass.





ShrikeCast with Andrew Crouthamel

This mammoth series of 84 videos is another brilliant resource for anyone embarking on CCNA self-study. The videos range in length from 5 – 25 minutes and provide an introduction to networking and the CCNA syllabus.






Free CCNA study guides


To supplement your revision, you should be regularly referring to a variety of study guides. By using these you’ll start to build the base of knowledge you need to take on the CCNA exams. These study guides are typically large and unexciting, but provide an invaluable source of information.


Free CCNA Study Guide

This massive online directory covers topics found within both the ICND1 and ICND2 exams. Each in-depth chapter covers a huge range of CCNA topics with accompanying diagrams and illustrations. Despite not yet being updated for IPv6, Free CCNA Study Guide remains a fantastic revision resource.

Access it here.


Omnisecu

Omnisecu provides a staggering 159 well-illustrated CCNA lessons. These lessons cover a massive breadth of topics (including IPv6) that can be studied in sequence. It’s simple, informative and robust.  

Plus, Omnisecu also covers Basic Networking and TCP/IP – topics you’ll be expected to understand before you start revising the CCNA.


CCNA Help – CCNA eBook

This eBook covers almost all important topics found within the CCNA exams and also includes some sample questions & answers.

Despite being visually unappealing, with a noticeable lack of diagrams, this resource retains its place as a useful source of quality CCNA information.  Find it here.


Free Cisco Routing Simulators


Routing simulators are invaluable tools for anyone studying networking. Applying the knowledge and skills you’ve been learning should be an integral part of your CCNA study. To help you do just that we recommend you take a look at NetSimK, LammleSim and GNS3.


Free Practice exams


The penultimate test – can you achieve a passing score on a practice exam? There’s only one way to find out. The below practice exams and questions will help you gauge you readiness for the real thing.


Test Clues

You’ll have to submit your email to sign up to Test Clues, but it’s well worth the effort. Inside you’ll find fully functional exams for both ICND1 and ICND2. Sign up here.



Go Certify

A minimalistic set of CCNA exam questions provided hosted on Go Certify and provided by ccprep. Find it here.


Are you ready for the CCNA exam?

This short 10 question quiz tests your knowledge on a variety of Cisco exam topics. Questions and detailed answers are taken from the book CCNA Exam Cram, Second Edition. Take the quiz.


Cert Exams

Certexams.com features a series of practice questions as well as a free downloadable exam simulator that includes testlets, simlets and router simulations. Take a look at the practice exam questions and download the exam simulator.


MeasureUp

The demo version of MeasureUp still provides some great practice exam experience. You’ll find shortened versions of both the ICND1 and ICND2 exams, though you’ll need to reach for your wallet to access the full tests.



Bonuses include two distinct testing modes - Study mode and Certification mode – as well as extensive customisable test options.


Firebrand Learn

We’ve uploaded our ICND1 & ICND2 lab guides to Firebrand Learn.  Get started on these two comprehensive lab guides right away – they’re totally free and there’s no need to sign up.

Found any hidden gems during your CCNA revision? Comment below and we’ll add them to the guide.


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, 13 February 2015

CISSP domain changes incoming


By Sarah Morgan


As the modern information security landscape changes, the CISSP exam has to change with it. Effective April 15 2015, the CISSP will be based on a new exam blueprint and feature updated domains.

Refreshed content has been added to the Official CISSP CBK to reflect the most current topics in the information security industry. As a result, the updated CISSP exam will continue to accurately reflect the technical and managerial competence required by information security professionals.




Those familiar with (ISC)2 will not be surprised by their latest domain refresh. As (ISC)2 themselves state – “We conduct this process on a regular basis to ensure that the examinations and subsequent training and continuing professional education requirements encompass the topic areas relevant to the roles and responsibilities of today’s practicing information security professionals.”

What’s changing?

Effective 15 April, 2015 the CISSP domains will look like this (find the current domains here):

  1. Security and Risk Management (Security, Risk, Compliance, Law, Regulations, Business Continuity) 
  2. Asset Security (Protecting Security of Assets)
  3. Security Engineering (Engineering and Management of Security) 
  4. Communications and Network Security (Designing and Protecting Network Security) 
  5. Identity and Access Management (Controlling Access and Managing Identity) 
  6. Security Assessment and Testing (Designing, Performing, and Analyzing Security Testing) 
  7. Security Operations (Foundational Concepts, Investigations, Incident Management, Disaster Recovery) 
  8. Software Development Security (Understanding, Applying, and Enforcing Software Security) 

The keen eyed will notice that the domain refresh reduces the number of domains from ten to eight. However, (ISC)2 stress that the CBK remains as comprehensive as ever. Content has been ‘refreshed and reorganised to include the most current information and best practices relevant to the global security industry.’


FAQ


Q. How does the refresh affect the CISSP prerequisites?

A. The prerequisites will not change. You will still be required to possess a minimum of five years of cumulative paid full-time work experience in two out of the eight domains.

Q. I already hold the CISSP – how will these changes affect my CPE submissions?

A. Starting April 15, 2015 all CISSPs will be required to submit their continuing professional education credits in accordance with the refreshed CISSP domains.

Q. Will the new domains affect the number of exam questions, or duration of the exam?

A. No – your CISSP exam will still have the same number of questions and the time you are allotted will not be affected.

Q. Will there be new training materials for the CISSP?

The content within (ISC)2 training materials will be updated to align with the new CISSP domains. See the below table to find the launch dates for these new training products.

Q. Where can I find more information?

A. Refer to (ISC)2’s official FAQ or blog post for more information regarding the CISSP domain refresh.


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, 9 February 2015

Security Impact of People-centric IT

By Debra Littlejohn Shinder

When I first ran across the phrase people-centric IT, it sounded like just another industry buzzword that some marketing department had come up with. Technology companies seem to suffer from a compulsion to rename everything every couple of years. Heck, we’ve even renamed renaming; now it’s called rebranding.

Sometimes the motivation behind the change is clear: If a product or service doesn’t catch on, maybe labeling it with a catchier moniker will make it popular. It worked for the service formerly known as ASP, and then SaaS, which suddenly caught on when it became “cloud.” Other times, there’s a legal impetus; thus the transformations of Metro into Modern UI and SkyDrive into OneDrive. Other times, there seems to be no rhyme or reason. Microsoft changed the name of ISA (Internet Security and Acceleration) Server, its firewall that was gradually gaining a loyal following, to TMG (Threat Management Gateway) and then, a few years later, killed it.


People-centric IT is the new BYOD


So I was skeptical when I heard that BYOD was out and “people-centric IT” was in. Sure, it sounds friendlier, but what does it really mean? As I delved into it a little deeper and really thought about it, though, I realized that not only do these two names not mean the same thing – they can be construed as basically opposite in meaning. And the move to substitute the latter name just might signal a big philosophical transformation in our approach to IT.


photo by Joyce Hostyn, licensed under Creative Commons

BYOD = Bring Your Own Device. The focus is on the device, and that’s nothing new. The focus of IT has been on the computers since the beginning of business networking. And the focus of security has been about hardening our operating systems, tightening our perimeter controls, locking down our devices. Oh, we’ve given lip service to the users’ role in security, with mandatory security awareness programs and the like – but even there, it’s been more about how the users should configure their computers and devices than about the people themselves.


It's all about the User


Today, though, the hardware is becoming irrelevant. With cloud computing, in a mobile world, we can access our applications, web sites and data with any old device – company machines, personally owned desktops and laptops, tablets, smart phones, public computers – and it doesn’t really matter. The experience is converging into one and the same. Even the software matters less and less. We can do most of the same things on an Android phone or an iPad that we do on a Windows PC.
photo by Jeremy Keith, licensed under Creative Commons

This trend shows no sign of slowing down in the future. A security strategy that’s focused on the system or the OS will become increasingly difficult to manage, as more and more different brands and models running different versions of different software come into use in our “bring your own” world. And the old ways of implementing security aren’t going to work anymore in a business model where keeping end users happy (and thus more productive) take precedence over bending to the IT department’s wishes.


Security focus must change


Once upon a time, IT could hand down mandates and (most) users accepted them. That was then and this is now. A new generation of users grew up with keyboards at their fingertips and screens in front of their faces. They’re digital natives, and they aren’t willing to blindly accept the dictates of IT about how to use their devices – especially when they’re paying for those devices out of their own pockets. BYOD saves companies a good deal of money on the capital expenditures end, but it can cost a lot in security if you don’t seriously assess the implications of this new world order and adjust your security plan to adapt to it.

Technological controls are still possible and useful in a BYOD world, but they have to be implemented with more diplomacy, and perhaps with a certain amount of compromise. IT isn’t going to gain back the ironclad control that we once had; that horse is out of the barn. We can’t control people in the same way we controlled devices in the old days; we can’t treat them as company property. Today and for the foreseeable future, IT is all about the people – and ultimately, after all, protecting the people is what security is all about, too.

To find out more about mobile device security go here to read more about security in the cloud go to the  Security Section on CloudComputingAdmin.om



Author Profile

Debra Littlejohn Shinder, MCSE, MVP (Security) is a technology consultant, trainer and writer who has authored a number of books on computer operating systems, networking, and security.

She is also a tech editor, developmental editor and contributor to over 20 additional books. Her articles are regularly published on TechRepublic's TechProGuild Web site and WindowSecurity.com, and has appeared in print magazines such as Windows IT Pro (formerly Windows & .NET) Magazine.






Friday, 6 February 2015

10 great benefits of Scrum Master certification


By Sarah Morgan



Created for software development projects (though applicable to every project), Scrum’s Agile framework improves teamwork, communications and speed.

A study of more than 5,400 IT projects found that the average overspend of the starting budget can top 45% due to project overrun (amongst other factors). Learn about Scrum and you’ll avoid these deficits by improving the chance of completing projects successfully and on time.


 Agile Product Ownership Processes - Firebrand Training



Scrum courses and certifications are available but the benefits may not be immediately obvious. Whether you’re new to Scrum, or are already a Scrum Master – what are the real benefits of getting certified?


1. Get a solid base of Scrum knowledge

If you don’t know much about Scrum, achieving the certification will teach you everything you need to apply it effectively. Take a Scrum course and you’ll develop a strong base of knowledge and learn the subject from an experienced teacher.

Achieving a certification will also fill any gaps you might have in your Scrum knowledge. You’ll need to study every aspect of Scrum to pass the certification exam. The scrum certification will also give you the motivation and the tools to get the rounded knowledge you need.



2. Change your mindset

Scrum is an Agile methodology and to use it effectively you’ll need to get into an Agile mindset. The most important ingredient of a self-sustaining and successful Agile approach is people with this Agile mindset.

Training and certification helps to ingrain this mindset for yourself and your colleagues. As a team you’ll be able to think in an Agile way, leading to less disagreements, better team cohesion and more successful projects.



3. Stay relevant and marketable

Certifications are both a brilliant way of marketing yourself to employers and proving to colleagues that you fully understand a given field.

A Scrum certification will expand your career opportunities across all industry sectors that adopt and use Agile practices. A Scrum Master certification shows that you have an Agile mind set and a wealth of Agile knowledge – relevant to every organisation or industry that uses these practices.


4. Scrum certification benefits your organisation

It’s a big decision for organisations to adopt a new methodology because it affects every aspect of the business: people, processes, clients and management.

Because of this, it’s important for everyone that you can achieve some real and tangible benefits quickly. With predictable & repeatable release schedules, self-managing teams, Scrum really shines in this respect.

However, a lack of Scrum knowledge may not yield the promising results that management will be pushing for. Without certification and the requisite knowledge you’ll gain, you might miss that crucial window to get Scrum off the ground within your organisation.


5. Influence your organisation to adopt an Agile methodology

Management will feel more comfortable investing in an Agile methodology if there are proven Agile professionals amongst them. A certification shows management that you’re ready to implement an Agile methodology.


6. Work better alongside your peers

Training and certification will have a positive effect when it comes to working with your colleagues. Get certified with those you work with and together you’ll build and reinforce the same vocabulary and base understanding of scrum.

Even if you don’t attend the same Scrum course as your colleagues, you’ll still benefit. Every Scrum instructor will vary in their style of teaching and what you learn will differ. You may have focused on aspects of Scrum that your peers didn’t. In the end, you’ll be able to pool your knowledge for a more varied understanding of Scrum and Agile methodology.


7. Prove your core Scrum knowledge to peers

Scrum Master Certification proves to your peers that you’ve put in the effort, studied Scrum and learnt to apply it within your organisation. There’s no need to waste time convincing colleagues you know your stuff – you have the certification to prove it.


8. Join a community of scrum experts

Become a certified Scrum Master and you’ll join a community of recognised Scrum experts committed to continuous improvement and the Agile methodology.

Scrum.org features a global network of Scrum practitioners and trainers. This active community serves as a library of knowledge, a way to find live events and a place find (and provide) guidance.


9. Win projects with qualified employees

If you compete to win projects, a team of certified Scrum Masters is a huge bonus. Your potential clients will recognise the value of a team that can both work together and apply Scrum in an effective way.


10. A badge of honour

Certification is a badge of honour that should be worn with pride. Plus, if you’re in management, getting your employees trained and certified proves your investment and commitment to their learning. You’ll get more knowledgeable staff eager to apply their new skills.


Time to get certified

To find out more about the global Scrum community and for more details on the Agile methodology, head over to scrum.org.


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, 5 February 2015

Frequently Asked Questions about MCSA: SQL Server


By Sarah Morgan


Microsoft’s SQL Server is one of the top database management systems in the world – even surpassing IBM’s second place market share in 2013.

With the MCSA: SQL Server cert you’ll get the skills needed to maintain a SQL Server database. You’ll learn how to use a broad range of tools and add-ons for business intelligence, data-driven applications and data warehousing.

It’s a pervasive technology, commonplace in organisations that use Microsoft’s Visual Studio environment for software development.

And to demonstrate Microsoft’s commitment to SQL Server, you’ll also find database-related certifications at each level of Microsoft’s certification program – from MTA (Microsoft Technology Associate) to MCSE (Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert).




There’s a lot to know about this popular MCSA cert, and a lot of frequently asked questions - let’s take a look at some of the most popular ones…


Q. Why should you get the MCSA: SQL Server certification?

A. SQL Server training gives you an edge in a career as a database administrator, developer or analyst. You’ll not only have a broad range of SQL Server knowledge, you’ll also be able to prove it with a recognised certification.

If you’re aiming for positions like database developer or database analyst (or the previously mentioned careers) this certification is ideal.


Q. Am I ready for the MCSA: SQL Server?

A. Whilst there aren’t any solid prerequisites for this MCSA cert, you will be expected to have a basic knowledge of Microsoft’s Windows operating system and a working knowledge of relational databases is preferred.

However, it can still be rewarding to take an MCSA: SQL Server course without previous experience with SQL Server. You’ll still get a wealth of useful SQL knowledge as well as the tools to start using SQL Server for yourself. Ultimately, you’ll get the information to make gaining the certification more achievable.

If you’re new to technology we recommend you start with Microsoft’s entry level MTA: Database Fundamentals course. You’ll learn the basics of relational databases, data security concepts and database administration. With this solid base of knowledge, you’ll then be able to move on to the more advanced MCSA.



You'll need to pass these three exams





Q. What options are available for me to study MCSA: SQL Server?

A. When it comes to taking on your certification exams, there are two primary paths to follow: self-study & instructor-led / classroom training.

Self-study consists of research, reading and independent practice before arranging and taking the related exam(s). This approach will often save you money in the short term – training materials will cost less than time in the classroom but it can take you much longer to source and learn the right material.

You can also self-study through the use of virtual classrooms and virtual courses. These hybrid products provide a flexible way to learn – you’ll be able to learn when you want and get guided through a set curriculum of revision resources. Some good providers will even allow you to speak one-on-one to instructors online.

Classroom study provides you with the material you need to know and a good environment to learn it. Plus, with good training providers you’ll also get access to hands-on labs where you’ll be able to practice your SQL as soon as you’re taught it. You can set-up your own labs, but it will take an investment of time and effort.

Plus, it’s hard to put a value on the ‘instructor’ of instructor-led training. Nothing beats speaking to somebody in person about a tricky SQL Server query or learning first-hand from a master of the technology.

Whichever path you choose you’ll find brilliant support for both. Your choice should depend on how you prefer to learn, how quickly you need to get certified, how much time you can commit to studying and your/your organisations budget.


Q. I want to prepare myself for MCSA: SQL Server – where’s a good place to start revising?

A. If you want to build your knowledge before taking on a course, or are ready to dive into self-study, you should first take a look at the Microsoft Virtual Academy.

Here you’ll find some great, free e-learning resources. Our Firebrand SQL Server instructor has singled out these MVA resources as particularly useful:

1. Database Fundamentals – a great introduction to database terminology, concepts and skills for beginners

2. Administering SQL Server 2012 Jump Start – This Jump Start video will help you prepare for exam 70-462, one of the three you’ll need to pass for the MCSA: SQL Server cert.

3. Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Jump Start – If you’re already familiar with database fundamentals and working with SQL server, this is a great advanced resource for you. An equally useful resource if you’re preparing for exam 70-461.


Microsoft also offer paid revision materials. ‘Training Kits’ include lessons, practical exercises and online practice tests for each exam (70-461, 70-462 and 70-463)


Q. What about the new SQL Server 2014 product, does this affect my MCSA SQL Server certification?

A. In April 2014, Microsoft updated the MCSE SQL Server exams to include SQL Server 2014 topics.

However, the three MCSA exams are still focused on SQL Server 2012 and as a result haven’t been changed. The new SQL Server 2014 features (performance tuning and high availability) are best suited for the advanced MCSE level certs and can only be found in the relevant MCSE exams.

For a more detailed description of the new changes, take a look at this blog post.


Q. I’ve finished my MCSA, but I still want to expand my skills – what else can I do?

This MCSA is your first step toward the advanced MCSE: Data Platform and MCSE: Business Intelligence certifications.

Achieve these certs and you’ll gain specialised knowledge of Microsoft SQL Server, singling you out as a proven expert in this popular technology.

Take a look at these pages for more information on the MCSE: Data Platform and the MCSE: Business Intelligence certs.


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, 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!


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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.