Friday, 28 November 2014

The 5 best CCNA revision books for 2015


By 


The CCNA is hard but the rewards are great – a Cisco Certified Network Associate certification can net you a £40,000 salary (average advertised) and get you into network engineer roles.

This certification also opens up progression towards the renowned CCNP certifications which in turn yield higher salaries and the prospect of senior positions in the IT industry.

To pass your ICND1 and ICDN2 exams and become a certified network associate in 2015, you’re going to need the best revision material available.

Grab several of these books as early in your revision as you can and study them as much as possible.  Don’t waste time searching online - take a look at your best picks for 2015, in no particular order…


1. Cisco CCNA Routing and Switching 200-120 Official Cert Guide Library

ISBN: 978-1587143878
Price: £28.07 (Hardcover) / £19.49 (kindle)

Covering both ICND1 100-101 and ICND2 200-101 (both CCENT and CCNA), this package contains two entire books fully up-to-date with the latest CCNA exam topics.

Includes:
  • Exercises based on key CCNA concepts
  • Pearson IT Certification Practice Test software – including 100’s of exam questions
  • 150 minutes of personal video mentoring from the author: Wendell Otom
  • Study plan suggestions and templates
  • 26 CCNA Network simulator labs

How good is it?

This book comes highly recommended - Amazon reviewers rate it 4.6 out of 5 stars rating (28 ratings). As a comprehensive base of knowledge it serves it’s a solid resource.


2. Cisco CCNA in 60 Days 
ISBN: 0956989292
Price: £5.91 (kindle)

This book was written by two guys who really know their stuff: co-authors Paul W. Browning and Farai Tafa are both CCIE and CCNP certified as well as being seasoned creators of CCNA revision material.

This book stands out because it approaches the CCNA in an opposite way to offerings like the Official Cert Guide Library.

Cisco CCNA in 60 days provides a dedicated study guide for each day for an entire month. After 30 days, the book proposes, you’ll be ready to take your CCENT exam and a month after this you’ll be prepared to take on the CCNA ICND2.

You’ll be checking in with your copy every day to read your daily dose, review yesterday’s lesson and track your progress.

It’s the ideal book for those of us who need a defined structure for their revision. However, if this isn’t your style of revising, it’s probably not the book for you.

IT professionals that stick to the ‘2 hours a day for 60 days’ requirement have found success. Though, only the determined few will be able to stick to this demanding schedule.

Includes:

You’ll be able to register your book online at www.in60days.com to access £250 of videos, exams, guides and even a forum to chat to your fellow 60 Day CCNAs.

How good is it?

Cisco CCNA in 60 Days comes highly rate for those that managed to stick to the demanding schedule. With an average amazon score of 4.8 out of 5 stars (36 reviews), it’s also very well received.

We love the focused scheduled, accessible and to-the-point writing and excellent motivational chapters to keep you going for the full 2 months. And don’t worry, it’s fully up to date with the material introduced in 2014.


3. CCNA Routing and Switching Study Guide: Exams 100-101, 200-101, and 200-120
ISBN: 978-1118749616
Price: £23.41 (Paperback) / £22.22 (kindle)

If you’ve been lurking around networking forums, chances are you’ve heard Tom Lammle’s name mentioned. Tom has authored over 25 books on Cisco certification subjects and can even boast that his book sales have surpassed those of Cisco Press.

The book covers ICND1 and ICND2 as well as the new topics introduced in 2014. Todd’s intuitive and knowledgeable approach is engaging and those new to the CCNA will find this especially appealing. Special attention should be drawn to topics like subnetting and route summarisation which are explained particularly clearly.

Includes:
  • Companion Test Engine
  • Electronic flashcards
  • Network simulator
  • Practice exams

If you’re the kind of learner who occasionally needs a break from reading, you’re in luck: bonus content includes access to 40+ MicroNugget videos from CBT Nuggets.

How good is it?

Lammle’s reputation speaks volumes but his book is let down by some poor accompanying materials. The downloadable practice questions miss the mark as one Amazon review states: ‘don’t rely on them…not like the actual exam at all.’

Amazon reviews are largely positive, however, with an average score of 4.2 out of 5 stars. Ultimately, Lammel’s easy-to-understand and to-the-point writing are great for those looking to get through both ICND exams. But, you can expect less content and background reading than Cisco’s official offering – so if you just want to get through the exams, this is for you.


4. CCNA Routing and Switching Portable Command Guide (3rd Edition)
ISBN: 978-1587204302
Price: £19.19 (Papeback) / £11.04 (kindle)

Published by Cisco press, condensed and is brimming with valuable information this book could prove invaluable for anyone studying for the CCNA.

In it you’ll find every Cisco IOS® Software command, keyword, command argument and associated prompts.

Plus, you’ll also get tips and examples of how to apply these commands in real-world scenarios. It’s been revamped to cover updated ICND 100-101 and ICND2 200-101 topics as well as CCNA 200-120 exams.

This book won’t form the basis of your revision, rather it should act as a quick reference resource to help you memorise commands and concepts. Store it on your eBook and take a few minutes out whenever you can.

How good is it?

Though not widely in circulation, this book has been received incredibly well. Despite Amazon UK only listing 3 reviews (albeit positive ones), Amazon.com actually lists 68 customer reviews with an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 – making it the highest rated book on our list.


5. 31 Days Before Your CCENT / CCNA Certification Exam A Day-By-Day Review Guide
ISBN: 978-1587204531 (CCENT)  - Price: £11.04 (kindle) / £21.99 (paperback)
ISBN: 978-1587204630 (CCNA)  - Price: £11.04 (kindle) / £14.43 (paperback)

The 31 Days series is for professionals who can see the finishing line. There are two books, both published by Cisco press, covering the CCENT and CCNA exams equally.

If you’re starting to fall to pieces with a month to go until your exam this book aims to get you back on track. You’ll be using the book’s day-by-day guide and checklist to organise, prepare and review your revision in the days before your exam.

Includes:
  • Visual calendar summarising each day’s topic
  • Exam preparation checklist
  • Mental, organisational and physical strategies for exam day

How good is it?

This book succeeds in providing a handy summary of everything you need to know for both ICND1 and ICND2 respectively. We recommend using this book alongside Wendell Odom’s comprehensive Cisco CCNA Routing and Switching 200-120 Official Cert Guide Library.

The 31 Days to CCENT / CCNA doesn’t include the important practice exams and exercises found within Odom’s bulkier Official Cert Guide Library. But, when used in tandem, both books can give you a real boost during the most important month of your revision.

How to get CCNA certified in less than a week

Books are incredible revision tools but many of us can’t commit to the dedication and distraction-free environment needed. If this sounds like you, there is an alternative to a month of studying – take a look at our CCNA course and do it all in 6 days.

If you recently passed your CCNA, what books would you recommend? And for those studying – good luck! 


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, 27 November 2014

How the new Sony hack proves security isn’t taken seriously


By 


Sony Pictures was crippled this week when cybercriminals forced the shutdown of their internal systems.

Imagine getting into work on Monday morning, booting-up your PC and being greeted with this:


It feels like something out of a cheesy 90’s spy-thriller but this is the reality that Sony Pictures employees had to deal with on Monday…and are still dealing with 4 days later.

Yes, Sony’s internal network had become the next victim of cybercrime in this recent spate of hacking. It’s a clear message for organisations: invest in your cybersecurity or this could happen to you.

Warning messages threatening to release data ‘secrets’, if undisclosed demands were not met, appeared on all internal computers, preventing login. The message also displayed ‘#GOP’ – pointing to a group named Guardians of Peace.

As of Thursday morning, the network remains down on many Sony offices and according to information reportedly shared by employees, it could be down for weeks.

Hackers also targeted Twitter accounts associated with Sony Pictures, leaving the same message and calling out Sony Pictures CEO:
























You, the criminals including Michael Lynton will surely go to hell. Nobody can help you.

If that wasn’t enough, the digital image also showed Michael Lynton’s head, edited into some form of Night Of The Living Dead landscape. These hackers clearly want to capitalise on the fear they can strike into the world’s biggest businesses.

One reddit user, posted a copy of a message allegedly displayed on the hacked network. The redditor explained, “I used to work for Sony Pictures. My friend still works there and sent me this. It's on every computer all over Sony Pictures nationwide.”

The post explained how the public could gain access to the 217.6mb .ZIP file, allegedly containing lists pulled from the organisations internal network.: “These two files are the lists of secret data we have acquired from SPE,” and that “Anyone who needs the data, send an email titled To the Guardians of Peace to the following email addresses.” A list of e-mail addresses attached to anonymous email services like Yopmail and Disgard.email followed.

Reddit users jumped at the opportunity to scour the allegedly leaked filed. A thread on the breach claims that the .ZIP file contains passwords of Sony employees, copies of passports of actors associated with Sony films and masses of Outlook archival data.

How Sony responded

In the typical damage-mitigating style of big companies experiencing big problems, Sony issued a statement saying the firm is investigating the ‘IT matter.’
Well that’s a relief.

Hack me once, shame on you

Sony is no stranger to being hacked. The infamous PlayStation Network hack of 2011, in which 77 million personal details were stolen, resulted in complete outage of the service for 24 days.
At the time it was one of the largest data breaches in history and remains a black mark on the Japanese company’s reputation.

As recently as August 2014 we watched as another major attack, once again, befell the PlayStation network. The service was forced offline once more, though this time for a single day.

Could your business survive a hacking attack?

Clearly, Sony has failed to invest sufficiently in their cybersecurity and organisations must learn from their costly mistakes.

Organisations need to begin investing in professionals with the skills necessary to prevent intrusions like Sony’s from ever happening.

Qualifications like EC-Council’s Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) are valuable to keep organisations secure. By employing or training professionals and helping them to achieve certifications like the CEH, businesses can proactively defend and prevent these crippling attacks.

Ethical hackers can conduct staged penetration tests against your business – will your defences hold up against a real hacker? Either way, you’ll get real insight into how you can improve your security and protect your organisations valuable data. After all, the techniques that Ethical hackers use are identical to those employed by cybercriminals.

The need for certified ethical hackers is real and with every data breach this point is hammered home.
20% of small and medium sized businesses have been targeted by cybercriminals in the past year, costing the global economy $500 billion annually. And it’s getting worse: reports already predict an increase in cybercrime next year.

In fact, with more advanced hacking tools, we can expect more targeted attacks on businesses small and large.

Sony’s latest breach is a strong message to businesses: invest in cybersecurity or face the consequences.  

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, 24 November 2014

Find out why Firebrand has been named for the fifth year running in the Top 20 IT training companies


























For five years running Firebrand has been recognised in the Top 20 IT Training Companies according to TrainingIndustry.com

Firebrand's selection for the 2014 Top 20 IT Training companies list was based on the following criteria:  

  • Leadership and innovation in IT training
  • Breadth of IT training and delivery methods offered
  • Company size and growth potential
  • Strength of clients 
  • Geographic reach

Commenting on the award Firebrand UK Managing Director, Emma Seaman said:

"Winning this accolade five years in a row stands as testament to Firebrand's ongoing commitment to providing high quality accelerated learning."

Emma went on to say:

"I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of our customers, whose support helps us continue to win awards for excellence."  

Author Bio

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




Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Windows Server 2003 – How to start planning your migration today


Rest in peace
_

Just like Windows XP before it, Windows Server 2003 now too faces its end of life. On July 14th 2015, Microsoft will be ending extended support for all versions of Windows Server 2003/R2.

But despite constant warning from Microsoft, many organisations have yet to even begin their
migration. These businesses will continue running the outdated software at their peril: huge financial costs and security risks are estimated for those running Windows Server 2003 past end of life.

11 million systems are still running Windows Server 2003, HP estimates. Clearly, many view it as an issue for next year. This could be a crippling problem when considering the estimated time for migrating a datacentre of 100+ servers can take from 3 to 18 months.

If you’re amongst that 11 million, now is the time to begin planning your migration. Here’s a birds-eye view of your migration process.

What does end of support mean for Windows Server 2003?

As of July 14th 2015, Microsoft will no longer be providing patches and security updates for this now 10-year-old software. You can expect the following:

No updates

Once end of life hits you’ll be on your own. Don’t expect any more updates, bug fixes or patches of any size.

Software like this needs continual work and even after 10 years, Microsoft are still working on critical updates for Windows Server 2003. In fact, 2013 saw Microsoft complete 37 of these critical updates.

Without the maternal care of Microsoft, critical issues and bugs affecting Windows Server 2003 will stay unfixed. You’ll be left open to cybersecurity vulnerabilities and will be more at risk of malicious attacks and data breaches.

Compliance loss

Your business will almost certainly fail to meet your existing compliance standards. HIPAA, PCI, SOX & Dodd-Frank require regulated industries to use supported platforms. Once end of life hits, Windows Server 2003 will lose its status as a supported platform and your business will lose out as a result.

In particular, adherence to PCI is required for businesses that want to host Visa and MasterCard transactions on their websites. Lose it and your crippling your businesses ability to make money online. For other standards, lack of compliance could result in high transaction fees and penalties which in itself could massively increase your costs.

Maintenance costs

Running legacy software is inevitably going to be expensive. Without Microsoft’s support, you’ll have to implement your own intrusion detection systems, advanced firewalls and network segmentation.

A TechNet post from Alex Fu cites a hefty £120,000 a year cost for custom support. Plus, practice director of Microsoft Solutions, David Mayer, estimates the price tag to be £900 per server, per year.

Compatibility woes

Without Microsoft’s support, new software and hardware products will not be built to be compatible with Windows Server 2003. You’ll likely run into compatibility issues from the outset and as time passes, these issues will only grow in scale.


How to migrate your Windows Server 2003

Migrating is hard work and takes time. However, Microsoft is on-hand to deliver resources to ease the passing of Windows Server 2003. Take a look at Microsoft’s Endof Service section before you plan your migration. 

Microsoft’s recommended four step migration process is as follows:

1. Discover

Your first step is to determine which applications and workloads are running on your Windows Server 2003. Download the Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit to help assess your current infrastructure and migration project.

2. Assess

Next, categorise your applications and workloads by their type, importance and degree of complexity. During this process you should be keeping a look out for migration issues.

3. Target

Choose a migration destination for each application and workload in your data centre or in the cloud. Microsoft are clearly focusing on cloud technology. Their public cloud solution, Azure, currently comes with a one month freetrial – now’s the time to migrate to the cloud. 





Microsoft also offer destination for each application or workload, including:

  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • System Center 2012 R2 (Private Cloud)
  • Microsoft Azure (Public Cloud)
  • SQL Server 2014
  • Office 365

4. Migrate

Choose a migration plan and get going. Microsoft do provide a quality Migration Planning Assistant which covers in-depth the previous 4 steps. If that’s not enough, you can attend official training courses, from training providers like Firebrand, designed to teach you everything you need to know about the platform you are migrating to.


Migration resources to get started with

Microsoft Virtual Academy – curated and built by Microsoft, these well-made guides can be an invaluable source of knowledge.

We recommend studying:

Windows Server 2003 End of Life: Infrastructure Migration – this Channel 9 video (1 hour, 17 minutes) digs into the process of migrating your infrastructure. The demo-intensive session explores workload migration and foundation services like DHCP, DNS and File/Print.

Windows Server 2003 End of Life Migration: Planning for Your Workloads – watch this Channel 9 video (1 hour 8 minutes) for an organised and systematic view of migration strategies and destinations.

Migration Deployment Toolkit – this collection of processes, tools and guidance for automating desktop and server deployments may prove invaluable during your migration.

Time is certainly running out for the 11 million who haven’t yet migrated. This isn’t a problem for next year and if you treat it like that, you'll certainly regret it.


By 

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. 

Microsoft Azure is down


By 


Update 1: Many Azure hosted websites in Europe are still experiencing down time.
Update 2: Azure has fully recovered,

Run for the hills, Microsoft Azure is facing a temporary loss-of-service.

According to Microsoft's official Azure status page, the following issues are:
  • Storage - North Europe and West Europe - Partial Service Interruption
  • Websites - West Europe - Advisory (Limited Impact)
  • Application Insights - Multi-Region - Advisory

Microsoft's Azure status page isn't entirely accurate...





8 hours ago, reports began to fly in regarding Microsoft's Azure cloud platform experiencing widespread outages. The issue affects all Azure customers with virtual machines in all regions other than the new Australian data center.

Both work and play have been affected by the outages, with hundreds reporting that Xbox live is also experiencing issues. Users have been unable to sign in or open the friends app.

Though the issues appear to have been fixed for 

UK based businesses took to Twitter to voice their concern over the ongoing downtime:





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, 18 November 2014

Big Data: A big security challenge



By Debra Littlejohn Shinder

Big Data – the collection of large and complex sets of data that include both structure and unstructured information – is widely touted as one of the most important current trends in computing, along with Bring Your Own Device/mobility and of course, the cloud. In fact, the convergence of these technologies is seen by many as the top IT challenges of this decade. 

Much has been said and written about the security implications of BYOD, mobile devices and cloud services, but the security aspects of big data don’t seem to get quite as much attention. This is true even though companies are accumulating and analyzing huge amounts of information – not just terabytes, but petabytes – and some of it could cause big problems if it fell into the wrong hands. 

Image courtesy of Renjith Krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
After all, the real point of collecting such massive amounts of data is not just to be a data hoarder; the objective is to subject it to analytics that can provide the company’s decision-makers with insights into aspects of their business that can have an impact on the organization’s efficiency, reputation and bottom line. But we all know that information that can be used for good can also be used for nefarious purposes, and if those business insights became public and/or were revealed to competitors, the impact on the company could be very negative indeed.

The security challenge of big data is complicated by another of those hot trends we mentioned above; many companies don’t have the storage capacity on premises to handle the amounts of data involved, so they store all that data in the cloud. Some do so in the mistaken believe that turning their data over to a cloud storage provider means they also get to hand off all of the responsibility for securing that data. 

For some companies, this might even be a reason for the decision to store the data in the cloud in the first place. You could argue that large cloud providers have far more resources to put into securing the data than your organization does. Cloud data centers are heavily guarded fortresses that employ high dollar physical and technological security mechanisms. 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
This line of reasoning makes sense – but the cloud shouldn’t be an excuse to abdicate your ultimate responsibility for the protection of your sensitive information. If there is a breach, your customers will blame you, not the cloud provider, because you are the one to whom they entrusted their information. This does double if you’re doing business in a regulated industry – financial, healthcare, a publicly traded corporation, a retail business that processes payment cards, etc. You won’t be able to pass the buck if you’re found to be out of compliance or in violation of standards. 

As with information security in general, the key to securing big data is to take a multi-layered approach. One important element in protecting the huge quantity of data that often contains bits and pieces of personal information about many individuals is de-identification – the separation of identifying information from the rest of the information pertaining to a person. Unfortunately, the counterpart to de-identification is re-identification, the art and science of putting all those pieces back together to discern identities from the de-identified data. 

In a report last summer, Gartner concluded that over 80 percent of organizations don’t have a consolidated data security policy across silos, and that in order to prevent breaches, they need to take a more data-centric approach to security. 

Of course, many of the security concerns and solutions that apply to big data are the same ones that apply to protecting any sensitive data. However, one thing that makes big data especially challenging is that it often passes through many more different systems and applications in the process of turning all that unstructured mess into useful information. 

Companies may use applications and storage methods for which security was not a design priority, so that they have to tack on security solutions after the fact. Since much of big data is unstructured, it’s often stored in non-relational databases such as NoSQL, which were not built with security in mind. Traditional firewalls and other security solutions weren’t designed to handle distributed computing that is at the heart of big data. Automated moving of data between tiers in a multi-tiered storage system can make it difficult to keep track of where the data is physically located, which poses a security issue.

Close attention to “middleware” security mechanisms, extensive and accurate logging of data tracking, and real-time monitoring are essential components of a security strategy that encompasses the challenges of big data.

You can find more information about securing data in the cloud here.  

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.

Monday, 17 November 2014

PRINCE2 vs. PMP - which certification should you choose?


By 


PRINCE2 and PMP are both well-known and respected project management certifications. But it’s not always easy to know which one to achieve. And whilst they’ll both give your project management skills a boost, what’s the use if you can’t apply your new knowledge in the workplace?

Let’s pit these two certifications against each other and take a look at what they can do to boost your career.

Introducing PRINCE2 & PMP

PRINCE2 - Projects in Controlled Environments

Originally developed by the UK’s Office of Government Commerce, it is now regarded as the de-facto standard for project management in the country. It also exerts a visible influence across Europe and Australia.

With over a million total PRINCE2 exams taken, it’s also the most popular project management methodology in the world.

According to arras People’s 2013 UK Project Management Benchmark, the PRINCE2 is held by 63% of all project management professionals.


PMP Project Management Professional

PMP is built around PMI’s Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBoK). Administered and created in the USA, the PMP has become the primary project management certification for North America.

Despite being less known in Europe than PRINCE2, it’s certainly not unknown and is increasingly gaining in popularity.

According to arras People’s 2013 UK Project Management Benchmark, the PMP is held by 9% of all project management professionals.


What do these certs cover?

PRINCE2

There are two levels of certification within the PRINCE2: Foundation and Practitioner. You’ll have to pass both to become a registered PRINCE2 practitioner.

PRINCE2 is a project management methodology that covers the management, control and organisation of a project. You’ll learn a flexible and adaptable framework that suits a wide variety of different projects.

This certification follows a sophisticated and clearly defined methodology that outlines detailed steps and processes that your project needs to achieve success in a controlled environment.

The well-laid out and standard approach that PRINCE2 uses is designed to be as generic as possible. As a result, the PRINCE2 processes are recommended for just about any kind of project.

PRINCE2 also helps to eliminate ambiguity by laying out clear roles and responsibilities of the team including: project executive, project manager, senior supplier, financier and senior user.

You don’t need previous project management experience to achieve this qualification and even experienced professionals can benefit from the PRINCE2.

PMP

Unlike the PRINCE2, the PMP is structured around the PMBoK and is a project management standard. You’ll become familiar with PMBoK processes and accepted project management techniques to enable you to evaluate your own projects.

It is therefore more of a theoretical and referential guide to assist you in the management of projects.
This certification evaluates your advanced knowledge of project management. As such you are expected to have existing project management experience.

To even apply for the PMP you’ll need at least 5 years of project management experience with 7,500 hours leading and directing projects. You’ll also need 35 hours of project management education (which can actually be gained by completing a PRINCE2 course).


How long will your certification last?

PRINCE2

As a Registered PRINCE2 Practitioner you must be be re-registered within 3-5 calendar years of your original certification. Failure to pass the Re-Registration examination after five calendar years as a Registered Practitioner will result in withdrawal of your registered status.

PMP

After achieving your PMP qualification you must participate in PMI’s Continuiing Certification Requirements (CCR) program to maintain your active certification status.

During the three-year cycle, you must attain 60 professional development units (PDUs). Once your three-year cycle is up, it starts all over again.

You’ll be obtaining PDUs by engaging in project management activities related to your PMP certification. PDUs are split into two categories: Education PDU and Giving Back to the Profession PDU. For more information on how you obtain PDUs, take a look at PMI’s official PMP handbook.


Industry needs and cultural differences

We recommend you thoroughly research your project management certification choices depending on the industry you work, or want to work in. Every industry will treat these certifications differently - you don’t want to achieve a cert which might prove to be less valuable than its counterpart.

When job-hunting in the UK and the EU as a whole, we recommend first taking the PRINCE2. As we mentioned earlier the PRINCE2 is immensely popular - especially in the UK where it is favoured by government.


Benefits – the bottom line

PRINCE2

1. Possibly the best introduction to project management

With its lack of prerequisites, PRINCE2 provides the ideal entry-level qualification for a career in project management. With a clear methodology, the PRINCE2 can take beginners and quickly transform them into educated project managers.

2. Improved career and employment prospects (in the UK and EU)

The PRINCE2 can improve your career prospects across the UK and EU. Due to its popularity in Europe and strong government ties, it is viewed favourably by employers.

 3. A standardised and complete methodology

The PRINCE2 provides a clear methodology that you can continually apply to almost any project. Plus, by using the same approach across every project, you’ll eliminate confusion through the use of common procedures, documents and processes.

PMP

1. Improved salary prospects

The PMP demands tougher prerequisites. It’s harder to achieve and as a result it commands higher salaries.

PMI Project Management Professional jobs display an average advertised salary of £60,000 according to data from ITJobsWatch.co.uk

2. You’ll have up-to-date skills

Unlike PRINCE2, PMP demands commitment to your project management career. As a result of the Continuing Certification Requirements, you’ll need to stay active within the project management community. This means, whether you want to or not, you’ll be continually sharpening your skills. Make no mistake; employers will be aware of this factor.

3. PMI Membership

When you obtain your PMP certification, you can gain PMI Membership. As a PMI member you’ll get exclusive access to publications, networking opportunities and professional development opportunities. You’ll be able to easily connect with peers, grow your career using an expansive collection of knowledge resources and get access to a premium job board for project management.


So who won?

The smoke has cleared and incredibly, both project management certifications are still standing.

This guy just loves project management
morguefile / Ambro
Our project management instructor argues that, in a perfect world, you would have both certifications.  PRINCE2 provides a tried-and-true methodology whilst PMP provides the skills and knowledge required by the Project Manager to carry a project through to completion.

Achieve both and you’ll possess an encompassing and rounded approach to project management.

We recommend you thoroughly research both certifications, depending on what your long-term goals are, which side of the world you’ll be working from and in what industry.

Find out more about PMP and PRINCE2 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. 

Friday, 14 November 2014

How Microsoft is changing the face of IT education


By 


Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, spoke at Future Decoded this week about the success and worldwide adoption of the Youthspark apprenticeship program.

Amongst talk of Microsoft’s cloud-first, mobile-first ethos, Satya also described Microsoft’s vision for the future of education.

Satya Nadella spoke about the importance of computer science being within STEM (Science, Technology, English and Maths) education.

Microsoft’s aim is to make computer science and IT education available to all. ‘The role of technology is to empower people,’ Satya states – he views IT education as something not to be restricted to the ‘elite.’

A commitment to IT education

So far Microsoft’s global apprenticeship program, YouthSpark has enabled over 6000 IT-passionate young people across the UK to find jobs as apprentices.

Through 30+ programs, Microsoft YouthSpark has created new opportunities for more than 227 million young people in over 100 countries around the world.

‘To me that’s the kind of empowerment, at large, that will transform societies and economies.’ – Satya Nadella

Announced in 2012, this company-wide initiative aims to create opportunities for 300 million youth by 2015. And with more than 75 million unemployed young people around the world, it’s definitely a worthwhile cause.  

The UK needs more digital skills

Microsoft isn’t the only company aware of this need for IT education amongst young people. There’s an undeniable lack of digitally skilled workers in the UK. In fact the UK will need another 750,000 digital-savvy workers by 2017, according to research from O2.

That’s a massive deficit but consider this:  Telefónica’s UK CEO Ronan Dunne, speaking at Future Decoded, explained how NEETS (Not in Education, Employment or Training) are actually more digitally literate than the UK’s existing workforce.

The IT-savvy professionals we need are out there, they just need programs like YouthSpark to prove that a career in IT is one worth pursuing.

Know a young person passionate about IT?

Firebrand is partnered with Microsoft as part of Get On, the UK division of the Global YouthSpark initiative.

Firebrand Apprentice, Kimberley Bolton, was the first woman to receive a Microsoft Apprentice of the Year award. Now she’s a Microsoft Apprentice ambassador and was sat on the Microsoft Apprenticeship panel at Future Decoded.

Kimberley explained how at first she was somewhat uneasy going into her IT apprenticeship but with encouragement from staff and a strong female role model, she prospered.  Kimberley previously saw her role as a ‘man’s job’ but now she’s doing it, and with incredible success.


Bring in new talent and secure the future of your business with a young apprentice or graduate from Firebrand. Boost your business and help solve the worldwide need for IT education.


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, 11 November 2014

Satya Nadella outlines Microsoft's vision of a mobile-first, cloud-first world

 By 

Satya

Speaking in the UK for the first time as CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella headlined a star studded list of globally recognised thought leaders including; Sir Bob Geldof, Jeremy Paxman and Dame Stella Rimington, as part of Microsoft's Future Decoded event.

The event, designed to discover, provoke and provide insight into an uncertain future shaped by rapid technological advancement, saw Nadella open up about his plans for Microsoft and his views of a mobile-first, cloud-first world where indviduals and businesses are empowered by the devices that they own.

The age of Mobile


With studies indicating that in 2014 the average European household owns 10 digital devices, this truly is the age of mobile. Mobile devices now outnumber people on the planet, even greater in number however are sensors which through the aid of mobile we can now interact with the internet of things. 

Speaking on Microsoft's mobile-first, cloud-first ethos, Nadella said:

"To me, when we say mobile first, it's not the mobility of the device, it's actually the mobility of the individual experience.

Speaking of the sensors that surround us, Nadella talked about the emergence of new mobiles services made possible through the power of cloud computing in combination with mobile. Nadella went on to say:

"The only way you are going to be able to orchestrate the mobility of these applications and data is through the cloud... That's why the juxtaposition of cloud infrastructure and mobile experiences is where the world is going."

Take Hive as an example, through the power of mobile you can now control heating from your mobile. Geolocation allows you to turn off the heating when you leave, and turn it on as you are return home. All this enriches your experience whilst also helping to save up to £150 a year. 






Facilitating innovation

Today's changing technology industry only respects one thing, innovation. An ideal at the forefront of Nadella's plans for Microsoft. He went on to talk about how to facilitate innovation and change, talking about the the 3 concentric circles for any organisation to continually innovate and succeed.




  • New concepts - a company cannot stick to existing concepts, they become outdated. New concepts are required to invent new ideas.
  • New capabilities - these are required to support the new concepts. Nadella used Microsoft's example of their Cloud infrastructure and how this new capability in combination with silicon allow them to innovate.
  • Supporting Culture - core to innovation is a culture that actively encourages and facilitates the act.


No big reveal 

Satya Nadella's first UK appearance was quietly understated. There were no revelations, no new technologies were not announced nor worldwide technological revolution promised. Instead this was an intimate conversation introducing us to the new Microsoft CEO where we learned about his ideals, his motivations and his vision for future technology and Microsoft.

This may have left a few dissapointed, but I along with the masses came away with a valuable insight into the man at the helm of a global technological super power now valued at $400 billion. Did I mention that's bigger than Google Inc.? 


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, Edward has a wide variety of experience with Microsoft Technologies including SharePoint, Windows Server and Exchange Server. Edward is an active member of the IT community contributing to a variety of tech publications including Microsoft TechNet, Channel Pro and PC Advisor.

Friday, 7 November 2014

How to become a Microsoft Azure Specialist


By 


IT Professionals with experience and knowledge of cloud technologies are increasingly in demand. Demand for ‘cloud-ready’ IT professionals will grow by 26% annually through 2015, with as many as 7 million cloud-related jobs available worldwide, IDC report.

However, demand has outpaced supply. IT managers report that the reason they failed to fill an existing 1.7million cloud-related positions in 2012 was due to a lack of training and certification.

The IDC White Paper report that 56% of IT departments simply cannot find enough qualified staff to support their cloud projects. 

Two giants are currently fighting it out for dominance of this thriving technology sector – Microsoft and Amazon Web Services.





Though Amazon may be the current cloud leader, it’s all too clear that Microsoft is closing the gap.
Especially so when considering Microsoft noted in its last earnings call that cloud revenue grew 147% year-over-year. 

At WPC 2014, Microsoft also unveiled these impressive Azure statistics:
  • 57% of Fortune 500 companies now use Azure
  • 300,000+ active websites
  • More than 30 trillion storage objects
  • Over 1 million SQL databases in Azure
  • 300 million Azure Active Directory users

With over $15 billion invested into building and maintaining datacentres across the globe, Microsoft is clearly committed to Azure. And it’s shows.


What is Azure?

Microsoft is going all in on Cloud technology. Microsoft Azure is an open collection of compute, storage, data and networking running in a global network of Microsoft-managed datacentres. 

You may also know it as Azure Ad and Azure online backup but it’s role remains the same – it allows organisations to build infrastructure as a service (IAAS), Platform as a Service (PAAS) and Software as a Service Solutions (SAAS). 


Sound familiar?

If you have recently studied Windows Server 2012 R2 and the latest versions of System Centre and SQL, you might have already studied Azure. Microsoft has already begun to introduce Azure material across their certifications and exams. 

This highlights Microsoft’s commitment to Azure, and proves that an understanding of the software is becoming increasingly necessary in related certifications. After investing $15 billion into worldwide datacentres, it comes as no surprise. 

And in the last couple of months, Microsoft have released courses, exams and certifications specifically based around Azure. 

The two brand new Microsoft certifications are:
  • Microsoft  Specialist: Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions
  • Microsoft Specialist: Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions


Microsoft Specialist: Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions

If you’re a developer looking to enhance your Web Applications and Windows Store Apps through building your own cloud services – this certification is for you. 

Or, if you hold the MCSD: Web Applications, this certification will prove a brilliant way to gain a greater understanding of the Azure platform. 

This Specialist course, built for developers, teaches you how to establish your own Azure virtual network environment. 

If you want to expand your development skills to cover Microsoft Azure, this is the certification for you. You’ll learn how to construct Azure Virtual Machines, create and host Azure websites and design resilient cloud applications. 

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


Microsoft Specialist: Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions

Microsoft is now the second largest provider of cloud infrastructure solutions and this Specialist certification has been created to set you apart as a knowledgeable Cloud professional. 

You’ll learn how to migrate your existing on-premise infrastructure to Microsoft Azure as well as:

  • Plan and implement data services based on SQL
  • Deploy and configure websites
  • Publish content through CDNs 
  • Integrate on premises Windows AD with Azure AD

To achieve the certification you’ll have to pass the Microsoft Exam: 70-533


When can you get certified?

You can sit both the 70-533 and 70-532 exams and attain your respective certifications now. But bear in mind – you have two options for scheduling these exams: Pearson VUE and Prometric.

If you want to sit your exam after January 1, 2015 – book it with Pearson VUE. This is because after December 31, 2014, Microsoft will stop delivering their certification exams through Prometric.

Training providers are racing to cater for the demand for these new Microsoft Specialist certifications. We are proud to announce that Firebrand is one of the first to market - and will be running courses in the coming months.


How to know when you’re ready

These Microsoft Specialist certifications are not part of the traditional MTA, MCSA and MCSE / MCSD tracks. As a result, you won’t find any pre-requisites for these Azure certifications.
However, Firebrand instructor, Mike Brown has reviewed the curriculum of both Specialist certifications and strongly recommends an in depth understanding of virtualisation before taking on these exams. 

Because of this emphasis on virtualisation, if you possess the MCSA: Windows Server 2012 R2 certification, you’ll be better prepared than most for these new Azure Specialist courses. Those without this cert should consider it as a great introduction to virtualisation. 


Prepare for your Microsoft Specialist cert now

To get started on Microsoft Azure - take a look at the Microsoft Virtual Academy. You’ll find 28 Microsoft Azure short courses available which provide a great self-study introduction to the technology. 

Because these Azure certifications are so new and in-depth, you won’t find a great deal of external resources. As a result, self-study could prove unjustifiably tough. 

But, if you can prove your knowledge of Azure, you’ll be well placed to take full advantage of the driving demand for Cloud technology.


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.