Wednesday, 22 October 2014

5 incredible for jobs for a Certified Ethical Hacker


EC-Council’s Certified Ethical Hacker certification opens doors for IT security professionals. Take on the CEH and you’ll get comprehensive ethical hacking and network security training – you’ll learn to think (and hack) like a hacker.

And like most certifications, the CEH is only a stepping stone to your dream career. The experience you’ll get from becoming a CEH can be applied across a huge variety of job roles. Let’s take a look at some of the most impressive ones:

1. Penetration Tester 

Average advertised salary - £55,000*

Just like malicious hackers, penetration testers attack IT systems to locate security flaws. But, unlike hackers, penetration testers are White Hats - their aim is to protect systems, not exploit them.

The only difference between penetration testing and hacking is whether you have the system owner’s permission. If you want the thrill of hacking and enjoy the challenge of breaking into networks, penetration testing could be an incredibly rewarding career for you.

"pssst, what's Frank's password?"
If you can find a vulnerability during your simulated real-life cyber-attack, then you’ve earned your wages.

You’ll establish the viability of attack vectors (also known as an ‘attack-surface’), research known vulnerabilities within the client’s hardware and software stacks and identify weaknesses using common hacking tools.

And you might even find yourself using social engineering to legally con client’s employees, e.g. trying to solicit employee passwords from other employees.

2. Forensics Analyst

Average advertised salary - £42,500*

This ultra-modern role involves analysing the way in which intruders breach IT infrastructure. You’ll be assessing the full extent of any malicious breaches in order to identify additional systems / networks that have been compromised.

Investigating the minute traces left by complex Black Hat attacks requires an IT expert proficient in cutting edge forensic and reverse engineering skills. You’ll need to think and act like a hacker in order to identify the ways they breached your client’s system. 

You'll be using a hacker's malware as evidence for his crimes
Image courtesy of Stephen Miles
To be a successful forensic expert you’ll need to master prevention / detection, hacker exploit techniques and reverse engineering of malware.

Perhaps most importantly, you’ll need to stay at the cutting edge of attack methodologies. Hackers won’t get complacent, so neither can you. If you can keep your security knowledge and skills up-to-date, you’ll find success as a Forensics expert.

And whilst many job postings advertise the CEH certification as a desired qualification, EC-Council also offers a specific digital forensics course. It’s called the Computer Hackings Forensics Investigator (CHFI) and will teach you everything you need to know about investigating, recovering and tracking cybercrime.

3. Internet / Network Security Administrator

Average advertised salary - £47,500*

Internet security administrators are responsible for protecting vulnerable computer systems and networks against attack. Also known as security specialists, the security administrator handles all aspects of information security.

You’ll be the go-to professional for all aspects of an organisation’s information security. As well as teaching your colleagues about computer security, you’ll check for security violations, research and install protection software and defend/take action against cyber-attacks.

If the breach is serious, you may even find yourself providing evidence of cyber-attacks to prosecute individuals for breaching security.

You’ll have a great deal of responsibility and as a result, you’ll need good communication skills and the ability to react exceptionally fast to security problems. You might even be expected to work on-call in case of emergencies. 

Pictured above: a visual metaphor for network security.
sidewinder123 / MorgueFile

4. Application Security Architect

Average advertised salary - £65,000*

Application security architects work with development and computer architecture teams to create security applications.

You’ll likely find yourself testing programs for security weaknesses and performing vulnerability scans. You’ll be responsible for creating effective security applications and will work closely with software development teams, providing security guidance and expertise.

To succeed in this role you’ll need great problem solving skills and the ability to anticipate vulnerabilities in new software. And, as with most security roles, you’ll also need a deep understanding and appreciation of emerging cyber security risks.

5. Computer Network Defense Analyst

Average advertised salary - £40,000**

Computer network defence analysts work with cutting edge cyber-security technologies to provide expert opinions on current and emerging network security threats.

Get it? Program...
DogertonSkillhause / MorgueFile
You’ll create security threat analysis reports and briefs that describe the risks of potential threats and the risks these threats may pose to your organisation networks.

Tasks could include:
  • Analysing network traffic to identify anomalous activity
  • Determining appropriate response to anomalous network activity
  • Studying identified malicious activity to determine weaknesses exploited
  • Examine network topologies to understand data flows through the network
  • Provide daily summaries and news, events and activities and distinguish these incidents and events from benign activities.

Secure your dream security job

The CEH certification is great for any information security professional. Secure it (in only 5 days?) and prove you can defend your organisation from malicious attacks; you’ll be well on your way to your dream job.

*data from
*data from

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, 15 October 2014

ISACA CISM and CISA FAQ: You have less than 9 days to register!


The deadline to register for your December CISA and CISM exam looms ever closer. You now only have less than 2 weeks to apply before registration closes on the 24th October.

So whether you’ve already registered or are just about to – now is certainly the time to refresh your knowledge about the upcoming 13th December CISM or CISA exams.

Q. When is the next CISM and CISA exam?

The next CISM and CISA exam is on the 13th December 2014.

Q. When can I register for the December exam?

Right now! You don’t have long until registration closes on the 24th October!

Miss this and your next chance to take the CISA and CISM exams will be in June 2015 (the date is currently unannounced). 

Q. I’m not sure if I’m ready for the exam, how can I tell?

ISACA provide a handy Self Assessment Test for both the CISA and CISM exams.

These self-assessments will help candidates assess their knowledge of both the CISM and CISA practice areas respectively. The assessments contain 50 sample items covering the appropriate subject matter to match the exam blueprint.

Plus, these items are representative of the types of questions you could get on your CISM / CISA exam.

You’ll be in a great position to determine your strengths and weaknesses after taking these tests. If you can locate any gaps in your knowledge you’ll be able to better focus you’re studying.

Q. I want to speak to other people who are also revising for their CISM and CISA exams - are there any forums I can use?

ISACA have developed a community exclusively for CISA and CISM exam registrations.
These forums allow you to share ideas, experiences, questions and study resources with other like-minded professionals.

Both the CISA and CISM communities are intended to help you prepare for your exams. Chapter certification coordinators (part of the ISACA Chapter group who help promote IS audit and security professions) have also been invited to reply to questions and share their study methods.

The CISM community forum

These forums are moderated by past top exam scorers who facilitate and drive discussion. You can find the forums here:

Q. I can’t make the exam I registered for, can I defer?

If you can’t make the exam, you’re able to request a deferral of registration fees to the next exam date.

Defer the December exam and you’ll have to wait until the next one runs in June 2015. If you want to defer your December 2014 exam to June 2015 and you apply on or before 24th October 2014, you’ll be charged a US $50 processing fee.

Defer later than 25th October 2014 and you’ll be charged a $100 processing fee.

Keep in mind, December 2014 deferral requests will not be accepted after 28th November 2014.

If you need to defer your December exam, you can do so either online or by fax. You can submit your deferral on ISACA’s website.

Q. How are the CISM and CISA exams scored?

ISACA uses a 200-800 point scale with 450 being the passing mark for both the CISA and CISM exams. It is worth noting that the exam score is not based on arithmetic or percent average.

For example, a scaled score of 800 represents a perfect score with all 200 questions correct; whilst a scaled score of 200 is the absolute lowest score attainable and signifies that only a small number of questions were correct.

A score of 450 represents a minimum consistent standard of knowledge required by the ISACA Certification Committee. 

Q. If I want to comment on the testing conditions – how will I do so?

If you want to comment about the testing conditions you’ll have a chance to do so at the end of your testing session by completing ISACA’s, ‘Test Administration Questionnaire,’ located at the back of your exam booklet. 

Q. Why do I have to wait 5 weeks for ISACA to process my exam results?

ISACA take the processing of exam results seriously. Each item of performance is carefully reviewed to ensure that they performed in a fair and consistent way.

A review of the preliminary statistical analysis begins a week or two after the exams finish. This analysis is conducted in up to 10 languages, across all 4 ISACA exams.

These guys sacrificed both legs to pass their CISM.
 Now that's dedication.

Image courtesy of hywards/morguefile
ISACA state this is an essential step because it identifies items that performed poorly. These items with poor performance are then reviewed by members of their respective certification committee. If an error, inconsistency or anomaly is discovered the answer’s weighting can be adjusted to ensure candidates are not penalised for ISACA’s error.

Q. Why don’t ISACA offer their exams electronically? This is 2014 after all…

Since most ISACA certified professionals are typically IT professionals, you might expect them to conduct their examinations with the use of computers.

ISACA re-evaluates their transition to a computer based testing environment every year. However, they have not as yet been able to achieve an online exam environment that would be more efficient, more secure and more affordable.

Their research has indicated that suitable CBT sites are not available in many of their 250 locations. Plus, they cite that, when seeing competitors move to CBT, their exam fees have increased massively (often by 100%) to compensate.

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. 

Using Host Groups to build a Private Cloud based on System Center 2012/2012 R2

By Debra Littlejohn Shinder

Everybody is migrating to the cloud – or so it seems. But some companies just aren’t ready to put everything “out there” in a public cloud, and for them, the private or hybrid cloud deployment model makes the most sense. Building a private cloud from scratch can be a daunting task, though. Microsoft has tried to make it a little easier for customers with Windows Server 2012/2012 R2 Hyper-V and System Center 2012/2012 R2.

Definitely clouds.
Image courtesy of arztsamui / morguefile
One of the important concepts involved in creating a private cloud that’s easy to manage is that of host groups. Host groups are created in System Center 2012 R2’s Virtual Machine Manager (VMM). VMM is Microsoft’s management solution for virtualized resources, including those in a private cloud. 

A host group is a simple idea: it allows you to manage multiple servers as one entity. You can then create your private cloud based on the resources that reside in one or more of your host groups. Microsoft’s cloud computing model encompasses three resource pools that make up the fabric. These are defined as compute, network and storage pools. The three resource pools are managed by VMM. For a better understanding of this, see the post Fabric, Cloud Computing Abstraction Integrated in VMM on Yung Chou’s Hybrid Cloud blog on the TechNet web site. 

Once you have a basic understanding, you can create your private cloud. Of course, you’ll need admin privileges to do this. There are some requisites, which include the preparation of the fabric in VMM. You can find out how to do that via the TechNet article Preparing the Fabric Scenario in VMM.

Once that’s done, you can get down to the business of creating the host groups in VMM. Here’s how: In System Center 2012 or 2012 R2 VMM, open the Fabric workspace and follow these steps:

  1. In the Fabric pane, expand the Servers node.
  2. Right click All Hosts.
  3. Click Create Host Group. 
  4. Replace the default name (New host group) with the new name that you want to assign to the host group.

You can create a tiered host group structure by repeating the process after right clicking the parent node under which you want to create a new child host group. You can create a parent host group for each different physical location, for example, and then within each one you could create host groups based on hardware capabilities (that is, the top tier group in each location offers the highest level of performance and reliability, etc.). You could also group hosts based on server roles or business units, or whatever structure makes sense for your organization. Note that you can also move host groups around to different locations within the tree structure if you need to. 

After you create your host group structure, you can configure the properties of the host groups. Back in the Fabric workspace, expand Servers again and then expand All Hosts, and click the host group you want to configure. Click the Folder tab, and click Properties in the Properties group. 

Here you can configure the following host group properties: 

  • General settings (group name, location in the hierarchy, description and encryption)
  • Placement rules for customizing on which host virtual machines are deployed
  • Host reserves (the amount of CPU, memory, disk input/output, disk space and network input/output that will be allocated for the host operating system on each virtual machine, either specified for a host group or for an individual host)
  • Dynamic optimization and power optimization settings (balancing of VM loads within a host cluster and evacuation of hosts to save power)
  • Network (inheritance settings for network resources including IP address pools, load balancers, logical networks and MAC address pools)
  • Storage (allocation of storage logical units and allocation of storage pools to host groups)
  • Custom properties for VMs, VM machine templates, hosts, host clusters, host groups, service templates, service instances, computer tiers and cloud. 

For more information about building host groups, see Part 2 of Brien Posey’s 11-part article on Building a Private Cloud with System Center 2012 over on the WindowsNetworking web site or to learn more about private cloud read Private Cloud Storage Network Storage Considerations series on

Guest 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, and has appeared in print magazines such as Windows IT Pro (formerly Windows & .NET) Magazine.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

In the click of IT - Firebrand Apprentice makes it into the Daily Mirror


If you read the Daily Mirror this week you might have spotted Tom Davis, one of our talented Firebrand Apprentices.

Tom had a change of heart after his second year of A levels – ‘I realised that because I wanted to work in IT, I would be better off getting out there, learning while earning in a business environment.'

He contacted Firebrand and after an interview with IT firm, Adatis, Tom was successfully hired.

18 months later, having passed all elements of the course, Tom finished his apprenticeship and was recruited by Altius, another IT firm, as a business consultant.

Tom now travels across the country, helping clients analyse data and develop their businesses. ‘I’ve been here six months and love it,’ says Tom, ‘I do everything from meeting the clients, writing software, analysing the data and coming up with business solutions.’

But that’s not all; Tom is also an apprenticeships ambassador for Microsoft and now manages Altius’ apprenticeship and graduate programs.

‘At the time the company didn’t have a structured programme but I was given a budget and now they do.’

You can find the Daily Mirror’s full article below:

Tom Davis in the Daily Mirror

Why IT?

There are more than 1.5million people working in IT and Telecoms and employment in the sector is growing at five times the rate of any other.

And with 500,000 new professionals needed to fill IT jobs in the UK over the next five years, many more young people like Tom are needed.

IT professionals are in high demand; the Daily Mirror found 9,823 jobs at and another 27,827 roles at, including apprenticeships.

And they earn well to:
  • IT technician - £15,000 to £30,000
  • Senior technician - £25,000 to £45,000
  • Project seniors – £24,000 to £29,000
  • Project managers - £31,500 to £40,000
  • Senior Project managers - £40,000 to £80,000

Know somebody with a flair for all things digital who wants to avoid student debt and earn a real salary? Take a look at Firebrand Apprenticeships.

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, 10 October 2014

Forgotten about your VMware recertification? Read this FAQ and get the discount


If you have a VMware certification or are planning on gaining one, listen up. You don’t have long to take advantage of VMware’s 25% off exam discount.

Plus, remind yourself about the VMware recertification policy, implemented March, 2014.

Why did VMware change their policy?

Previously, VCP certification holders were not required to recertify their skills. VMware explain that maintaining your expertise is just as important as gaining the certification initially:

‘If your skills are not current, your certification loses value. The technical and business communities expect that VMware certified professionals are current on the latest technologies and capable of implementing VMware products with the highest level of skill.’

There’s a lot to take in when it comes to recertification, and a lot of questions to answer. We put together a handy FAQ to help out VCP’s who might soon need to get back in the classroom:

Q. When did the policy go into effect?

A. VMware change their stance on recertification on March, 2014.

Q. Why is VMware doing this, what are the benefits?

A. As well as maintaining your skills in the fast moving technological landscape, you’ll also get the same benefits of newly certified candidates, like:

  • Recognition for your knowledge, skills and expertise
  • Official VMware transcripts
  • Access to the VCP portal & logo merchandise store
  • Invitation to beta exams and classes
  • Use of the VMware certification logo on personal websites and business cards
  • Discounted entry to VMware events
  • VMware Press discounts

Q. How long do I have to recertify?

A. If you gained your VCP level certification (VCP-DCV, VCP-Cloud, VCP-Desktop) before March 10, 2013, you must be recertified by March 10, 2015.

Plus, any VCP2, VCP3, VCP4 or VCP5 certifications can be recertified between 10 March, 2013, and 10 March, 2015, by simply taking a current VCP or VCAP exam. Be aware, however, that you must stil meet all current requirements for the VCAP exam.

Q. I earned my VCP level certification after March 10, 2014, how long do I have to recertify?

A. If you earned your VCP level certification after March 10,2014, you have two years to recertify.

Q. What happens if I don’t recertify?

A. If you fail to recertify within the allowed timeframe, your certification will be revoked. You will no longer be entitled to use the VMware logo or represent yourself as VMware certified.

In addition, your certification will no longer be shown as valid on your MyLearn account. Any employer that contacts VMware to validate your certification will be informed that it is no longer valid.

Plus, you will not be able to access the VCP portal if your certification is revoked.

Q. Is there a grace period after my certification is revoked, or do I need to start over?

A. VMware do not provide a grace period after your certification is revoked. You will have to meet all prerequisites for the specific certification and pass the exams to regain certified status.

Q. Will VMware contact me when my certification is about to expire?

A. Yes, you will receive an email notice at the email address associated with your MyLearn account.

Q. Is there a course requirement to recertify?

A. No. You’ll be able to recertify without a course requirement anytime within your 2-year recertification period.

However, VMware do recommend that candidates enrol in training – ‘hands-on experience through on demand or live (classroom or virtual) classes will provide you with the latest education to better prepare you for the exam.’

Q. Is the recertification exam any different to the normal exam?

A. No, the exam you take will be identical to the typical VMware exam.

Q. Will the recertification exam cost me the same?

A. Yes, it will. However, VMware are currently running a 25% off any VCP exam when you test before January 1, 2015.

And if you don’t pass, you can re-use your voucher continually until the January 1, 2015, cut-off point.

Find out about this offer here.

Q. I have multiple VCP certifications. How will I know when to recertify?

A. The most recent date will be used to determine your recertification deadline.

E.g. If you earned your VCP5-DCV on January 4th, 2012, and VCP5-DT on February 11th, 2014, then your recertification deadline will be based on the VCP5-DT date. In this case, your recertification deadline would be February 10th, 2016.

Q. My VCP level certification is over two years old, but I just received a VCA. Do I still need to recertify?

A. The only way to recertify your VCP is to pass a higher version of the exam or pass an exam of another track (Excluding VCA).

Q. What if my VCP is already 2 years old?

A. If you hold any VCP certification (VCP-DCV, VCP-Cloud, VCP-Desktop) that was earned on or before March 10, 2013 you must recertify by March 10,2015.

And if your certification was earned after March 10, 2013, you must recertify within two years of that date.

We hope that answered any tricky questions; please post in the comments if there’s anything we missed.

Firebrand run an official VMware vSphere 5.5 Fast Track course – if you want to get your recertification out of the way, or want to achieve this qualification – you could get it in only 5 days.

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, 2 October 2014

The top 10 new features in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 we want now


Microsoft’s newest version of its omnipresent Dynamics CRM software is set for a fourth-quarter release this year. It promises to boost collaboration between sales and marketing teams with a host of exciting new features.

With a focus on better customer services and increased sales success, we’re clearly not the only ones getting a bit impatient for its release.

So, whilst we wait, let’s take a look at Microsoft Dynamic CRM 2015’s new features - you now, the ones that we want now.

1. Simple Email editor

A simple drag-and-drop email editor will be included in CRM 2015. You’ll be able to create emails from scratch or customise any pre-defined templates.

The ability to alternate between a straight-forward visual editor and a HTML/CSS editor will allow those familiar with CSS and HTML code to build more advanced documents.

2. CRM for tablets enhanced

Microsoft has improved its CRM for tablet functionality. You’ll now get flexible, role tailored dashboards, personalised home pages and the ability to navigate by hierarchy.

Easily analyse data on the go and if you lose connection, you’ll still be able to draft new records, which will synchronise once you reconnect.

3. Sales and Marketing Collaboration

Sales will be able to access marketing campaigns through the Sales Collaboration Panel. This new functionality will allow appropriate members of the sales team to view campaign activities and control communications with their customers. They’ll also be able to set up and receive alerts based on their interactions.

That’s one less troll under the bridge between Sales and Marketing with this feature.

4. Field-level Security
If you want to change that field,
you'll have to get through Jim / Goldy

Your business has sensitive data that you don’t want everyone to have access to. Field-level security will let you restrict access to certain fields. A company admin can setup the CRM in such a way that salespeople will be able to view an account-number field, but not alter it.

5. Campaign Management Console

The Campaign Management Console has been improved to include multi-condition triggers and inbuilt A/B testing. You’ll be able to clearly see the effects of your testing with easily set-up A/B tests and results displayed through real-time analytics.

6. Sales Hierarchies

New visualisations will bring real-time territory and forecasting data. You’ll be able to visually explore and traverse hierarchies with key information displayed on tiles, launch actions or communications from any node.

The hierarchical view will allow salespeople to see how an account is performing in terms of revenue, find out who is working on the account and/or get help from others by sharing the account with colleagues.

7. Better Search

An improved quick search will make it far easier for Sales to find customer records. You’ll be able to navigate records by letting users enter keywords in the search box and nav bar.

Plus, support for more sophisticated searches can now be found in the new Advanced Find icon.

8. Guided Sales Processes

This new feature will guide sellers toward desired outcomes through branching logic and automated business rules.

Organisations will now be able to implement complex business processes, which will be completed automatically based upon pre-defined roles, to guide sellers toward their best sale.

9. Social Listening

Microsoft’s Social Listening tool will let your organisation monitor social media channels like Twitter and Facebook. You’ll be able to track your products, brands, competitors and campaigns globally in real time and gain an in-depth understanding of your customers and business across the social web.

Analyse what people around the world are saying about your organisation. You can now add news to your search topics and use location filters narrow your data set to see posts from specific countries or regions.

10. Product Families

Salespeople will become more efficient with this useful feature. Your organisation’s product management capabilities will be boosted through the ability to bundle products and simplify cross-sell/up-sell opportunities.

You’ll also be able to document product attributes and create relationships between customers and relevant products.

Comment and shout at us if we missed your favourite feature. And if anybody from Microsoft fancies contacting us and telling us when CRM 2015 is going to be released - that would be great!

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, 1 October 2014

Download Windows 10 tomorrow and shape the future of Microsoft's new OS


Microsoft yesterday announced the launch of Windows 10. You can be the first to download the technical preview tomorrow by signing up to the Windows Insider Program. As an IT pro or PC expert, you will gain exclusive access to the beta and help craft what Windows 10 will become. 

For those eager to get hands-on with the technical previews for Windows Server and associated management tools, i'm afraid you're going to have to wait a little longer. These will be launched 'soon after', which roughly translates to 6-8 weeks.

So let's take a closer look at the new launch....

What to expect in Windows 10

Although it's early days in the development of the new OS, Microsoft's statement of intent is clear. Skipping Windows 9 and going straight to Windows 10 suggests that the new OS is less of an incremental improvement,  but an aspirational phase shift to a new generation of Windows Operating systems.

In fact, that's almost word for word what Terry Myerson, executive vice president of the Operating Systems group at Microsoft said:

Windows 10 represents the first step of a whole new generation of Windows, unlocking new experiences to give customers new ways to work, play and connect. This will be our most comprehensive operating system and the best release Microsoft has ever done for our business customers,” 

In summary: Expect big things from Windows 10. With a focus on the Enterprise.

New Features

Although specific details are yet unclear, we've been given an advanced screening of what to expect in tomorrow's technical preview:

Start menu: Back by popular demand, the Start returns bringing with it customization features allowing you to add your favorite Live Tiles and Apps.

Everything runs in a window: Just like when opening standard desktop applications, the Windows Store Apps will now open in in the same format. Windows can be resized and moved around with the standard maximize, minimize and close buttons also included.

Snap enhancements: It is now possible to open 4 apps on the same screen with a new quadrant layout. This allows rapid transition between applications improving the ability to mutli-task. Should the 'quadrant layout' not contain 4 apps, Windows will suggest other apps with smart suggestions to fill additional screen space.

Multiple desktops: It's now possible to create different desktops for projects, purposes and jobs roles. A desktop for every occasion so to speak. These can be switched between with consummate ease.

New task view button: Transition rapidly between open files and desktops using the new task-view button found in the taskbar.

Find files faster: File Explorer has been upgraded to include a display of recent files and frequently visited folders.

Check out this video from Joe Belfiore,Vice President for Windows, where he introduces you to all the aforementioned features:

What the experts are saying

Whenever a new system is launched, everyone has an opinion. Having perused my way through every Windows 10 launch article imaginable, here's the buzz.

The Register - Iain Thomson
Microsoft unwraps WINDOWS 10. Evidently, Seven ate Nine

"It's very early days yet, and what we've seen so far is only a small facet of what's coming for Windows 10 and its apparent focus on the enterprise sector. More consumer features will be announced in the coming months but, based on the sneak peek, this new OS may get Microsoft back in the good books of enterprise buyers."

The Next Web - Roberto Baldwin
Hands on with the Windows 10 preview build

"Microsoft made certain the audience understood that we were seeing an early build of its next operating system. Early build or not, for power users that demand multi-tasking, the oddly named Windows 10 looks ready to help you get everything done."

BBC Technology - Richard Taylor
Microsoft unveils Windows 10 system with Start Menu

"The user interface feels familiar yet modern. The "dual mode" - which aimed to satisfy tablet and PC users, but alienated both - has been replaced with a dynamically-adjusting interface and behaviour, determined by whether you are using a keyboard/mouse, or touch."

"Ultimately Windows 10 success will depend on its execution. But at least under the new leadership, Microsoft is showing it is listening. It needs to if it is to stay relevant and stop the march of Android and Apple."

Techcrunch - Alex Wilhelm and Frederic Lardinois
Microsoft Announces Windows 10

"One thing Microsoft clearly learned from the experience with Windows 8 is that if it wants to build a single operating system and user interface for every device, it can’t just optimize for edge cases."

Techworld - Juan Carlos Perez
With Windows 10, a contrite Microsoft will try to atone for Windows 8 mistakes

"Humbled by businesses' dislike for Windows 8, Microsoft has issued a mea culpa, offered the world a first peek at Windows 10 and pledged that the new OS will delight IT executives. But the true test of whether Microsoft can move past its Windows 8 mistakes will come when Windows 10 is commercially released at some point next summer."

Make your own decision

Come this time tomorrow, you could already be getting to grips with Windows 10 and making your own opinion on Windows 10. As well as perhaps making some credible suggestions on how Microsoft can make it better.

I for one will be first to put my name down to see what's in store. Exciting times lie ahead.

About the Author

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 years, Edward has a wide variety of experience with Microsoft Technologies including SharePoint and 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 among others.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Firebrand reveals winner of Free Training for Life


Our second Free Training for Life competition blazed across the world with over 15,000 entries from 24 countries. The prize: unlimited free access to our entire portfolio of training courses, for life.

And now the wait is finally over.

Who succeeded in claiming the ultimate prize of unlimited free training – who has become the ultimate cert-collector?

Meet the winner

Firebrand is delighted to announce that Mr Mario Henkel is this year’s winner of Free Training For Life.

Mario Henkel (left) receiving his Free Training for Life Ticket from
Paul Dillenburg, General Manager for Firebrand Training

The newly crowned winner, Mario, is an IT administrator based in Frankfurt at ponturo consulting AG. This is how he felt when he first heard of his win:

“This is incredible, I can’t believe I won Free Training for Life! I am still processing the opportunities this prize can create for me in my future career. I’ve already decided to take the Certified Ethical Hacking course first. Working as an IT administrator responsible for systems security, the knowledge I will gain from this certification will be invaluable in protecting my companies assets. I cannot wait to get started.”

Unlimited training you say?

Starting today, Mario Henkel will receive access to a lifetime’s worth of free training courses and exams from Firebrand. He’ll be able to choose from 200+ IT, security and project management courses.

Mario has already decided to take EC-Councils Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) course as his first choice of certification. He’ll learn to think like a hacker and apply this to fend off attacks on his organisations network and systems.

Plus, Mario’s prize means he won’t have to pay for any training fees, exam fees, course books, food and accommodation. Not to mention, Mario can also undertake his training in any of Firebrand’s training centres across Europe.

Mario now joins previous winner, Joseph Guthrie, as the two winners of Firebrand’s life-changing and career augmenting competition. Truly, this is one exclusive club. To hear Mario talking about his prize you can head to the FTFL page and watch his winners video.

We’d like to thank all of the 15,000 entrants to our second Free Training For Life competition.

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, 26 September 2014

E is for Expert – which MCSE is made for you?


The Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) certification was the crown jewel of Microsoft’s certification portfolio for two decades, most notably during the Windows Server 2003 and XP era. Then came the rise of Microsoft Certified ITProfessional (MCITP). Although the replacement series of certs was popular, the MCITP struggled to gain the traction of MCSE. The old MCSE was a known quantity, it had an industry recognised credibility that the MCITP could never quite match.

In 2012, Microsoft decided it was time to revive the MCSE. The flagship certification was reinvented with a different name - Microsoft Certified SolutionsExpert, which came with some fundamental changes:
  • Microsoft introduced the need for recertification every two or three years 
  • The legacy was MCSE focused purely on individual job roles, whereas the new Microsoft Certified Solution Expert (MCSE) certification focuses on the holders ability to design and build technology solutions. 
As it stands there are currently eight MCSE credentials available:
  • MCSE: Server Infrastructure 
  • MCSE: Desktop Infrastructure 
  • MCSE: Private Cloud 
  • MCSE: Data Platform 
  • MCSE: Business Intelligence 
  • MCSE: Messaging 
  • MCSE: Communication 
  • MCSE: SharePoint 
Do you want to know which one is made for your skills and needs? Read on to find out.

MCSE: Server Infrastructure

What you’ll learn: With the MCSE: Server Infrastructure certification you’ll be skilled to run an efficient and modern data centre. You’ll also be an expert in identity management, systems management, and storage planning, as well as designing and deploying a virtualised environment.

It’s also worth mentioning that this certification is currently the highest level credential you can achieve on Windows Server 2012.

Who’s it for: If you’re looking to work as a computer support specialist and information security analyst, the MCSE: Server Infrastructure is highly recommended for you, as it will significantly improve your employability prospects.

Prerequisites and upgrades: To earn an MCSE a relevant MCSA is required, in this case it is the MCSA: Windows Server 2012. However, you shouldn’t worry if you have an earlier certification like the MCSA: Windows Server 2008 or a relevant MCITP, because there are upgrades available for these certifications:
  • MCITP: Server Administrator on Windows Server 2008 
  • MCITP: Enterprise Administrator on Windows Server 2008 
  • MCITP: Virtualization Administrator on Windows Server 2008 R2 
  • MCITP: Enterprise Messaging Administrator 2010 
  • MCITP: Lync Server Administrator 2010 
  • MCITP: SharePoint Administrator 2010 
  • MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Administrator on Windows 7 
In order to upgrade, you’ll need to sit the following exams:
  • Exam 70-417 - Upgrading Your Skills to MCSA Windows Server 2012  
  • Exam 70-413 - Designing and Implementing a Server Infrastructure  
  • Exam 70-414  - Implementing an Advanced Server Infrastructure 

MCSE: Desktop Infrastructure

What you’ll learn: The MCSE: Desktop Infrastructure credential proves that you know how to design, deploy, manage and maintain a Windows Server 2012 desktop infrastructure in a virtualised environment.

Who’s it for: Are you interested or already working as a desktop support manager or a data and applications manager? Then this is the cert you need.

Prerequisites and upgrades: If you already have the MCSA: Windows Server 2012 you are looking at a much faster process. You’ll ‘only’ need to pass two exams:

  • Exam 70-415 - Implementing a Desktop Infrastructure 
  • Exam 70-416 - Implementing Desktop Application Environments 

Of course there are upgrades available for this certification as well. Upgradeable certs include:

  • MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Administrator on Windows 7
  • MCSA: Windows Server 2008
  • MCITP: Server Administrator on Windows Server 2008
  • MCITP: Enterprise Administrator on Windows Server 2008
  • MCITP: Virtualization Administrator on Windows Server 2008 R2
  • MCITP: Enterprise Messaging Administrator 2010
  • MCITP: Lync Server Administrator 2010
  • MCITP: SharePoint Administrator 2010

In order to upgrade from any of the above, you’ll need to pass the following three exams:

  • Exam 70-417 - Upgrading Your Skills to MCSA Windows Server 2012 
  • Exam 70-415 - Implementing a Desktop Infrastructure 
  • Exam 70-416 - Implementing Desktop Application Environments 

MCSE: Private Cloud

What you’ll learn: The MCSE: Private Cloud certification proves your skills in managing and implementing Microsoft private cloud computing technologies. Combined with Windows Server and System Center, you’ll be able to build your Microsoft private cloud to provide flexibility for your IT infrastructure.

Who’s it for: As a MCSE: Private Cloud certified professional you’ll be qualified for jobs such as server administrator, systems programmer and network manager.

Prerequisites and upgrades: To earn your MCSE: Private Cloud, you’ll need to get the MCSA: Windows Server 2012 first. Or you can upgrade from these and take a shorter route:

  • MCSA: Windows Server 2008
  • MCITP: Server Administrator on Windows Server 2008
  • MCITP: Enterprise Administrator on Windows Server 2008
  • MCITP: Virtualization Administrator on Windows Server 2008 R2
  • MCITP: Enterprise Messaging Administrator 2010
  • MCITP: Lync Server Administrator 2010
  • MCITP: SharePoint Administrator 2010
  • MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Administrator on Windows 7

Exams needed to upgrade:

  • Exam 70-417 - Upgrading Your Skills to MCSA Windows Server 2012 
  • Exam 70-246 - Monitoring and Operating a Private Cloud with System Center 2012 
  • Exam 70-247 - Configuring and Deploying a Private Cloud with System Center 2012

MCSE: Data Platform

What you’ll learn: This cert demonstrates your skills in building and administrating large scale data solutions both on-premises and in cloud environments.

Who’s it for: Database analysts and designers.

Prerequisites and upgrades: This certification requires the MCSA: SQL Server credential prior to attaining the full MCSE: Data Platform. Upgrades are available from MCITP: Database Developer 2008 and MCITP: Database Administrator 2008 via the following path:

  • Exam 70-457 - Transition MCTS on SQL Server 2008 to MCSA: SQL Server 2012, Part 1 
  • Exam 70-458 - Transition MCTS on SQL Server 2008 to MCSA: SQL Server 2012, Part 2 
  • Exam 70-459 - Transition MCITP: Database Administrator 2008 or MCITP: Database Developer 2008 to MCSE: Data Platform 

MCSE: Business Intelligence

What you’ll learn: The MCSE: Business Intelligence cert will equip you with the skills and techniques needed to design, build and implement a Business Intelligence platform for SQL Server.

Who’s it for: This cert is ideal for professionals pursuing a reporting engineer career.

Prerequisites and upgrades: To earn your MCSE: Business Intelligence credential you’ll first need to get the MCSA: SQL Server certification. Or if you already have the MCITP: Business Intelligence 2008 you can upgrade by passing the following three exams:

  • Exam 70-457 - Transition MCTS on SQL Server 2008 to MCSA: SQL Server 2012, Part 1 
  • Exam 70-458 - Transition MCTS on SQL Server 2008 to MCSA: SQL Server 2012, Part 2 
  • Exam 70-460 - Transition MCITP: Business Intelligence Developer 2008 to MCSE: Business Intelligence 

MCSE: Messaging

What you’ll learn: With this certification you’ll be able to help your peers to stay connected, access files anytime from anywhere and maintain general messaging security. Learn how to migrate your company to the cloud without trouble, increase productivity and flexibility and improve data security. You’ll also learn to reduce data loss, and improve data security for your organisation.

Who’s it for: The MCSE: Messaging certification is a must have if you’re looking for a position in network and computer systems administration.

Prerequisites and upgrades: To get the MCSE: Messaging cert, first you’ll need to have the MCSA: Windows Server 2012. Plus you can upgrade as well, if you have any of these:

  • MCSA: Windows Server 2008
  • MCITP: Virtualization Administrator on Windows Server 2008 R2
  • MCITP: Enterprise Messaging Administrator on Exchange 2010
  • MCITP: Lync Server Administrator 2010
  • MCITP: SharePoint Administrator 2010
  • MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Administrator on Windows 7

MCSE: Communication

What you’ll learn: With the MCSE: Communication cert under your belt you’ll be an expert in creating a consistent, smooth communications experience within your organisation. You’ll know how to configure, manage and maintain Lync, and monitor the state and quality of communications in your network.

Who’s it for: Similarly to the MCSE: Messaging, the MCSE: Communication certification will also qualify you for a position in network and computer systems administration.

Prerequisites and upgrades: It probably won’t strike you as a surprise but the MCSA: Windows Server 2012 is the first certification you’ll have to obtain on the track to your MCSE: Communication cert. Upgrades are available from:

  • MCSA: Windows Server 2008
  • MCITP: Virtualization Administrator on Windows Server 2008 R2
  • MCITP: Enterprise Messaging Administrator 2010
  • MCITP: Lync Server Administrator 2010
  • MCITP: SharePoint Administrator 2010
  • MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Administrator on Windows 7

You’ll just have to pass these exams:

  • Exam 70-417 - Upgrading Your Skills to MCSA Windows Server 2012 
  • Exam 70-336 - Core Solutions of Microsoft Lync Server 2013 
  • Exam 70-337 - Enterprise Voice & Online Services with Microsoft Lync Server 2013 

MCSE: SharePoint

What you’ll learn: The Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert: SharePoint (MCSE) is a globally recognised standard for IT professionals. With it you’ll boost your expertise in helping your company organise, sync, collaborate and share information across the entire organisation.

Who’s it for: Professionals pursuing a career as a systems or network analyst.

Prerequisites and upgrades: Needless to say MCSA: Windows Server 2012 is a prerequisite and upgrades are available from:

  • MCSA: Windows Server 2008
  • MCITP: Virtualization Administrator on Windows Server 2008 R2
  • MCITP: Enterprise Messaging Administrator 2010
  • MCITP: Lync Server Administrator 2010
  • MCITP: SharePoint Administrator 2010
  • MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Administrator on Windows 7

You’ll just need to pass:

  • Exam 70-417 - Upgrading Your Skills to MCSA Windows Server 2012 
  • Exam 70-331 - Core Solutions of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013 
  • Exam 70-332 - Advanced Solutions of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013

Eight certifications, eight paths do go down. Some of them are similar; some of them are fundamentally different. Which one will you pursue?

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.

Top 10 reasons you should be Lean Six Sigma certified


Lean Six Sigma is a management philosophy that has the ability to transform your organisation by enabling it to become more effective and efficient. Originally developed by Motorola in the 1980’s, Six Sigma soon became a world standard for quality implementation.

So how exactly does Lean Six Sigma achieve these lofty claims and by extension - why should you be Lean Six Sigma certified?

1. Lead your organisation to reduce errors and defects

Lean Six Sigma makes use of continuous improvement to reduce defects and errors across your entire organisation.

Achieve a Six Sigma qualification and you’ll enable your organisation to benefit from immediate functional improvements in production time and cost. The application of tools like kaizen (a method of constantly analysing process flow and how it’s applied) and poka yoke (mistake proofing) are proven to lead to faster-than-expected improvements.

In IT applications development, Six Sigma can reduce invoicing errors, reduce customer complaints and cut complaint resolution time, control IT spending and reduce schedule slippages.

You’ll stand out as a valuable asset to your organisation if you can apply Six Sigma effectively. With a fall in defects and errors, your organisation will save money – and you’ll be responsible.

Just like this small red man is doing
Image courtesy of / jscreationzs

2. You’ll be able to apply it to almost any industry

We know it can be applied to manufacturing, and I recently mentioned IT applications development; but this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Six Sigma is an industry independent methodology and has been applied successfully across:

  • Manufacturing industries: Aerospace, Health equipment, Electronic Goods, Textiles
  • Service industries: Telecom, Banking and Financial services , Health care, Hotels, IT, Airlines, Cargo Movement, HR, Marketing 
By getting Lean Six Sigma certified, you’ll be able to apply your hard-earned skills and knowledge across a huge number of industries, organisations and businesses. This provides you with a massive boost in employability because your new skills and knowledge will be applicable in almost any company.

Definitely Six Sigma certified
Image courtesy of / Suat Eman

3. You’ll directly improve customer relations

Whilst Lean Six Sigma is primarily a means to increase efficiency, you’ll also be able to apply its practices to reduce the number of customer complaints.

The quality of services has a strong impact on customer satisfaction and by extension, customer loyalty. Customers will be less affected by defects in their products if the manufacturing process is improved and the number of these defects reduced.

When you apply Lean Six Sigma to customer relations it will likely result in reductions in complaint resolution time and a cut in the number of complaints.

So, becoming Lean Six Sigma certified won’t just allow you to improve efficiency and productivity – you’ll also be able to positively impact how your organisation is perceived.

4. Ensure industry and government compliance

Six Sigma aims to reduce manufacturing errors to a rate below 3.4 parts per million. A number of enterprise purchasers, amongst them government organisations and large corporations, actually now use this metric to review vendors.

Be part of the change. Lead or mastermind the Six Sigma strategies in your organisation to achieve or maintain profitable contracts.

5. Improve your organisation’s use of resources

Get Lean Six Sigma certified and you’ll be able to show your organisation and/or your employees how to utilize resources in a more efficient way. As a result, the cost of operations, materials and time will be reduced.

Apply Lean Six Sigma and fewer resources will be allocated to correction and more towards production. This means less defects in your services/products and more emphasis on providing sales.

6. Stand out from the crowd

Get the Six Sigma ball rolling in your organisation and you could experience tremendous professional development opportunities. Help your employer to adopt Six Sigma tools and training and you’ll stand out from the crowd as a proactive and determined individual.

Plus, Lean Six Sigma uses a set of quality management tools to provide a unique infrastructure of people within your organisation.

For example, Six Sigma Green belts are trained to generate business improvements in areas like: customer satisfaction, service delivery and cost control. Moreover, those qualified with the Six Sigma Black Belt are fluent in the practice and can deliver major performance and efficiency transformation in a business or organisation.

7. Command a bigger salary

Six Sigma is no push-over. It’s for determined professionals who are motivated to achieve more and receive validation for doing so.

Hiring professionals and executive managers know this and Six Sigma, as a result, commands respect and a comfortable salary. A Six Sigma Black Belt certified professional, for example, possess an average advertised salary of £45,000 a year according to

8. You’ll be prepared for leadership roles

Once the Six Sigma Black Belt is obtained, a person is both educated in Six Sigma methodologies and prepared to become a change agent within their organisation. You’ll lead efforts to improve processes and the quality of services.

The Six Sigma Black belt can open doors to promotion in upper management and, as you might expect, improves your prospects of obtaining a job with a different employer.

9. Lift morale within your organisation

Lean Six Sigma has the potential to positively affect people by engaging them directly. Employees are the best resource to understand how to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of a business.

As a result, by participating in Lean Six Sigma projects, employees are able to build confidence by directly affecting the capability of your business.

10. A competitive advantage for your organisation

Possessing a Six Sigma qualification will enable you to effectively differentiate your organisation from your competitors. Distinguish yourself through Six Sigma and your marketing team will be thankful with this additional string to your companies bow.

On the other hand, delay and you may find your competitors gaining the upper hand when they decide to implement the Lean Six Sigma strategies for themselves. 

There you have it, 10 great reasons how both you and your organisation can benefit from getting Lean Six Sigma certified. Now you just have to get certified, right?

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.