Thursday, 20 August 2015

5 Reasons why you don’t need A-levels

 By Sarah Morgan

If you’re receiving your GCSE results today, you’re probably planning your future. If you’re a student who sees A-levels as the only option, here’s why that isn’t the case.

Apprenticeships are a way to earn skills, experience and money without the hassle of going to college and studying for A-levels and can get you started in the career of your dreams.

Firebrand’s IT Apprenticeships are the opportunity you’ve been looking for and is the best thing that could’ve come your way. Here are 5 reasons why:

1. Get paid to learn

You could earn up to £18,000 a year on an IT apprenticeship. Once your learning’s completed, your salary typically rises to  £20,000 and then to £23,500 the year after that.

In the time it takes for someone finish A-levels and university, you’ll have already earned far more than the £27,000 debt they’ll have accumulated. You’ll also have five years of valuable experience behind you.



2. Get a meaningful job, hassle free

It’s often said how hard it is for graduates to find jobs because there is so much competition. You have the chance to bypass that, using a Firebrand IT apprenticeship as your shortcut into work. You’ll be working for a respected company, doing a job that really matters.

Plus, we’ll find your job for you – no endless trawling through jobs boards. Once we receive your details, we’ll do the leg work for you.

3. Invest in your future

An apprenticeship isn’t a short term fix. Taking the time to learn skills in a meaningful, practical environment will prove your work ethic, as well as your knowledge and ability. These skills are highly valued by employers and you’ll be seeing the benefits for years, because you started your career the right way.

4. Get industry recognised qualifications and up to £27,000 worth of training

Firebrand Apprenticeships are aligned with the demands of the IT industry. The qualifications you’ll earn are from well-respected vendors like Microsoft and Cisco. Not only are thy desired across Europe qualifications like these will give your CV an edge.

Also, apprenticeships are funded by the government and your employer. This means the £27,000 worth of training you’ll receive will be completely free.

Find out what’s so great about being an IT Apprentice from someone who is one - Guen, Firebrand's very own - http://bit.ly/1EC6iYR



5. Choose from a wide range of jobs

Roles like Network Engineer, Mobile App Developer, Software Developer, Web Developer and Games Developer are just some of the roles that you can do with a Firebrand IT Apprenticeship. These are some of the most highly sought after and in-demand jobs in the industry, giving your career fantastic potential for growth.

So, on the job training, valuable experience, industry recognised qualifications and backing from a respected employer in the industry are all included in an apprenticeship. This combination can take you anywhere you want to go.

Don’t miss out on this fantastic opportunity. Head over to our website and Apply Now.

 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 August 2015

The First Look at Windows Server 2016


Firebrand teamed-up with Microsoft Evangelist Ed Baker to deliver a First Look at Windows Server 2016 in London, on Thursday 13th August. Seventy lucky Firebranders squeezed into a room at Microsoft’s offices in London to catch a glimpse of Windows Server 2016 in action – and to see what the Nano Server buzz is all about.

Ed opened by saying there was going to be a “fundamental change” in the way we use Windows Server. After three hours of demos – including a few PowerPoint slides - we’d learnt why.

Nano Server is at the heart of this fundamental change – it’s fast, it’s small, and it’s easy to use (common themes throughout the new look OS). Microsoft describes it as “a purpose-built operating system designed to run born-in-the-cloud applications and containers”.

Small and perfectly formed, Nano Server is designed for fewer patches and updates, faster restarts, better resource utilisation and tighter security. The focus on size was highlighted when Ed unveiled his server setup – which looked complicated as a network map on screen, but was no more than a laptop and four hard discs on the table in front of him.

“Servers aren’t valued pets”

Before we got to see Windows Server 2016 in action, we were given a reality check. Ed reminded us that “servers aren’t valued pets” concluding by bluntly saying “when you don’t need them – kill them”. We no longer need to get attached to our servers…kill off a server when you don’t need it, and reactivate it when you do. That’s the power of cloud computing.

Ed asked us all to think ‘services’, not ‘servers’. We’ve moved away from a data center being made up of expensive hardware; individual servers in a siloed infrastructure. Slow, expensive innovation and development constraints have been replaced with low-cost, standardised, automated processes. Nano Server – combined with PowerShell – is what allows us to do this.

Before getting into the detail, Ed explained just how little computing power Windows Server 2016 needs: a 1.4GHz 64-bit processor, 512MB RAM, a 32GB disk and a Network Interface Card. That’s it.




What’s New in Active Directory Domain Services?

The development of Windows 10 and Office 365 means Microsoft is heavily in the world of single sign-on and end-user self-service. Windows Server 2016 is the backbone that supports this – through Azure Active Directory (AAD)  connected to Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS). As Ed explains: “If you can manage and control your identity, you can manage and control your data”.

And guess what – it’s simple. Just tell Azure AD Connect AD DS which servers it needs to be assigned to and it does the rest for you - installing the synchronisation and even ADFS if required. Other improved AD DS features include:

  • Privileged access management
  • Azure Active Directory Join
  • Microsoft Passport – helping you keep all your important data even more secure

There was also a definite cheer ripple across the room when Ed announced that Windows Server 2016 won’t work with  File Replication Service (FRS) or Windows Server 2003.

Nano Server finally unveiled

At last, Ed showed-off what everyone was here to see. He setup a Storage Direct Cluster through Nano Server, using four Nano nodes (the four hard disks mentioned at the start of the article) and a Windows Server 2016 node (the laptop).

In the past (for now the present) each disc device would need to be connected to a node. This is restrictive - especially as the network gets bigger and we’re trying to upscale. Now, storage spaces can be hooked-up directly with internal disks, eliminating the need to share SAS infrastructure.

This couldn’t have been achieved before without a shared storage mechanism like a JBOD enclosure or a SAN, now we can use standard internal storage and create a shared pool across all the nodes. In this instance each nano dodge had four small internal hard disks making 16 in total. These were combined into a storage direct pool and then added to a failover cluster, in the form of a storage volume formatted as a cluster shared volume.

The pretty-simple setup process is only done once, because it can then be re-used and automated whenever new server space is required. With the new rolling cluster upgrade, you can now add new servers to a cluster, transfer the settings to it and upgrade the cluster version number (to get all the benefits of Windows Server 2016) - all by simply running a rolling upgrade in PowerShell or though the failover cluster manger GUI.

Having spun up the network, it took an impressive 30 seconds to boot (compared to at least five minutes from previous OSs). Yes, there were some cheers in the audience.














Even more new features in Windows Server 2016

There was also time to hear about a few more features in Hyper-V and File and Storage Services. New features for Hyper-V in Windows Server 2016 include:
  •  Rolling Hyper-V Cluster upgrade
  • Production checkpoints
  • Hot add and remove for network adaptors and memory
  • Integration Services delivered through Windows Update
  • Storage Quality of Service (QoS)
  • Virtual machine configuration version
  • New virtual machine configuration file format
  • Hyper-V Manager improvements
  • Linux secure boot
  • Compatible with Connected Standby
  • Windows PowerShell Direct - ever lost the ability to get into a VM? Rather than binning it, you can use PowerShell Direct to get into it

New features for File and Storage Services in Windows Server 2016 include:

  • Storage Spaces Direct – the next stage in software-defined storage, which enables SATA and NVMe devices to become cluster-available. This is what enables each server to plugin direct with its own internal discs, rather than the need for a shared SAS JBOD
  • Storage Replica – developed to help you “tolerate” disasters. Disasters happen, and they can be planned for by replicating data between sites via standard storage and networks
  • Deduplication

Nano Server is seven times faster!

Ed concluded by comparing deployment and servicing (based on all patches in 2014) improvements for Nano Server. All make impressive reading:
  • Nano Server takes just 40 seconds to boot, compared to more like 300 from full Server
  • The disk footprint of Nano Server is 400MB, with Sever Core almost 5GB
  • Virtual Hard Disk size 400MB compared to 6GB in Server Core
  • Critical bulletins – for full Server, there were 23, compared to two for Nano Server
  • Number of reboots – only three from Nano with 11 from full Server

All of the demos were on Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 2, with Technical Preview 3 coming soon. So in the words of Ed, download the Technical Preview now and start playing!



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, 13 August 2015

So you messed up - turn your A-Level results failure into a career opportunity

Haven’t got the A-level results you needed? Don’t worry, this is your opportunity to accelerate your education pathway into a lifelong career in IT.


University is not the only route to your chosen career. IT apprenticeships offer an alternative pathway which will help you leap frog your peers as they trundle off to do a three year degree.

So if you didn't get the A-level results you needed, don't bother with UCAS clearing. Find out why failing your a-levels and choosing a Firebrand IT apprenticeship is the best thing that could have happened to you.

Earn while you learn

During your IT apprenticeship you’ll be paid a starting salary up to £18,000. Upon completing your apprenticeship, starting salaries are typically around £20,000 – with a salary rise of around £3500 a year after that.

Apprenticeships are 33% faster than University degrees

Whilst a typical University degree runs over three years, your Firebrand Apprenticeship runs for two years. You’ll get the skills and qualifications you need 33% faster than your peers.

Plus, with 99% of Firebrand Apprentices ending up in full-time employment following their apprenticeship, you’ll be 3 years into your career by the time your peers are finishing University  looking for their first job. Best of all, no student debt!

Get a real job

You are not just on a training course. This is a real job, with real a business. You will learn business critical skills, and gain years’ worth of real work experience. Did I mention we find the job for you?

No need to trawl through job boards of the local papers. Just give us your details and we’ll match you to an IT job near you.

Avoid £27,000 worth of student debt

While your peers are off racking up £1000s worth of university debt, you’ll working in your chosen career, earning a wage and developing skills that will form the foundation of a successful future.

Earn industry recognised qualifications and get up to £27,000 worth of training

Firebrand Apprenticeships are aligned to the requirements of the IT industry. You’ll train and earn industry recognised qualifications that are in demand by businesses throughout Europe.

Plus, apprenticeships are funded by the Government and your employer. This means you could get up to £27,000 worth of training for free.

Interested? Head over to our website and Apply Now

Friday, 7 August 2015

5 best books for your Scrum Master certification

 By Sarah Morgan

Becoming a Professional Scrum Master proves to an employer that you can apply Scrum principles within an organisation. This means doing more than your usual project manager. Due to the edge the certification can give you, according to itjobswatch.co.uk, the average salary for a Professional Scrum Master is £50,000 – at least £5,000 more than without the cert.

This means the Professional Scrum Master certification is not easy to pass. On top of this, the sheer amount of books written about Scrum means wading through resources can be difficult. If you’re looking for the best revision resources and ways to get more familiar with the processes and ideas used, don’t waste time searching around. Below are the best books to help you learn the skills you need.


1. Agile Certification Study Guide: Practice Questions for the PMI-ACP exam and the Scrum Master Certification PSM I exam: Volume 5 (Part of the Agile Education Series) by Dan Tousignant 
ISBN: 978-0984876785

The most up to date revision guide on the market. Volume 5 of the series contains 50 new questions that outline the new exam content. The best book out there specifically designed to help you study for the exam.

Includes:

  • A total of 370 practice questions to help prepare you for Scrum.org’s Professional Scrum Master assessment (PSM 1) exam
  • A complete Scrum and Agile glossary
  • A wide list of web resources for you to refer to whilst you study

How good is it?

Tousignant has 20+ years of business management experience, managing software and web development projects. Combine that with the wide range of questions, it covers all aspects of the exam and is sure to be a great help to your revision.


2. Scrum Mastery: From Good To Great Servant-Leadership by Geoff Watts 
ISBN: 978-0957587403

Written by one of the most respected and experienced Scrum coaches in the world, it breaks down the components of Scrum and states how you can become a better Scrum Master in a straightforward manner. A quick read that will give you tips on how to improve personally.

Includes:

  • Practical examples, helpful stories and cautionary tales from someone who has years of industry experience of Scrum
  • How to go beyond being the average Scrum Master
  • Ways to continually improve the actions of you and your team

How good is it?

All 14 reviews on Amazon gave it 5 out of 5 stars and many in the industry use it as a handbook for daily guidance. A trustworthy resource for tips and tricks.


3. Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland 
ISBN: 978-0385346450

Written one of the inventors of the Scrum software development process, he explains why the world needs Scrum to become more efficient. Discussing the relevance and values of Scrum in today’s world, amongst other things, the book will allow you to see why Scrum is used and gives you a unique insight, which you may not have considered before.

Includes:


  • Insight into the idea of constant improvement
  • Explanations of how Scrum can help you achieve things others consider to be impossible
  • Various rules and initiatives to follow so you can understand the basic underlying principles of Scrum 

How good is it?

It averages 4.6 stars out of 5 on Amazon (152 reviews), and is a succinct book to help you become more productive. A good read, but lacks explicit revision material and is better used to your improve overall understanding.


4. The Professional Scrum Master's Handbook (Professional Expertise Distilled) 
ISBN: 978-1849688024

Viscardi’s guide is jargon-free and relaxed, helping you to easily grasp what it takes to become a better Scrum Master. It also clearly outlines how the role of a Scrum Master differs from that of a project manager.

It looks at defining what a true obstacle is and the best ways to overcome them using Scrum. Plus, it covers the mental side of Scrum and establishing trust between you and your team members.

As well as this, it covers fundamental issues with such depth, that it is a great revision guide when combined with practice questions.

Includes:


  • Questions and exercises to get you thinking like a Scrum Master
  • How to create a backlog between you and your team to support continuous improvement
  • Creating and transitioning between cultures so your team can deliver results efficiently

How good is it?

It averages 4.8 stars out of 5 on Amazon (12 reviews), many describing it as “indispensable” for anyone serious about Scrum. Because it is comprehensive about the basics as well as offering unique advice and insight, it should be considered a valuable resource, for revision and general study.


5. Scrum and XP from the Trenches (Enterprise Software Development) by Henrik Kniberg 
ISBN: 978-1430322641

A unique Scrum book, following how one Swedish company implemented Scrum and continuous improvement over the course of a year.

As you would expect, it’s hugely practical and acts as a starter kit for anyone new to Scrum. Henrik and his team conduct various experiments which allow you to see the impact of different permutations of Scrum in different situations, that are rarely covered in Scrum books.


Includes:


  • Practical tips for Scrum and XP  (Extreme Programming) practices
  • Typical shortcomings and how to address them
  • Dealing with internal and external resistance
  • Diagrams and photos illustrating day-to-day happenings and situations

How good is it?

Averaging 4.7 stars out of 5 on Amazon (19 reviews), this book resonates well with people because of its personality and unique format. Reading about someone, from start to finish, how Scrum works in a way that seems real-time is much more interesting than a standard textbook. Combined with informative insight, means the book is a stimulating and valuable resource.

Firebrand’s training for Scrum.org’s Professional Scrum Master certification 

If you’re looking to get training for Scrum.org’s Professional Scrum Master certification, Firebrand offers an accelerated learning course designed to prepare you and get you certified in just two 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. 

Friday, 31 July 2015

Firebrand embraces Microsoft’s cloud first ethos


Speaking from a meeting room that previously held Firebrand’s sever rack, we caught up with Bevan Miller, our Head of IT, to discuss Firebrand’s recent migration to Microsoft Azure and Office 365.

Firebrand now in the cloud

Over the past year, Firebrand’s forward-thinking IT team have been migrating business critical systems to Microsoft’s public cloud platform – Azure.

A modern business requires countless services and software to run, and Firebrand has been working hard at getting them into the cloud. Our recent Office 365 migration means that users can now login to the Firebrand business applications and authenticate through Azure and Federation Services.

Firebrand employees can access their critical apps across public networks – BYOD and working from home has never been simpler.

But that’s not all – OneDrive for Business, Exchange Online, SharePoint, Yammer, Skype for Business, File Services, legacy CRM, database services, finance systems, RemoteApp, Directory Services and Windows Deployment Services are now all running in Azure.



Cloud migration – not just a buzzword

Full cloud migration can be a daunting task but the benefits are massive. Firebrand staff now experience full BYOD and working from home flexibility – when they connect to the corporate network, regardless of their connection, they’ll find their apps are already installed alongside their personal settings.

The IT team have also cut their operational time by enabling the cloud to manage their server load. Real time scaling support that efficiently adapts to business demands is now maintained by Dot Net Solutions, a managed services and solutions partner.



Dot Net Solutions manages all of Firebrand’s third line support – using System Centre Operations Manager for security and update patches, monitor, maintain and triage system issues before they impact business applications.

The result: Bevan and his team get more time to focus on business solutions and streamlining technologies.

With our server stack sitting securely in the cloud, little to no operational time is being dedicated to regular hardware maintenance tasks. There’s now no need to add to the server stack when the company expands, Azure flexibly responds to any increase or decrease in our business demands.

Firebrand can now easily deploy additional security features through Azure’s Multi Factor Authentication giving us real time security monitoring and enabling fast action on alerts.

Risk to critical files is minimised too - if our server room experiences any disasters, our critical servers and data will be spared as they are now backed-up multiple times across Azure's geo-redundant virtual machines.

We now also use Microsoft Data Protection manager in conjunction with Azure Data Backup Vaults as well as a full Virtual Machine through the Azure Backup Service.

Those training with us will also get to see Azure in action - Firebrand’s cloud courses are now powered by Azure. Plus, Bevan’s team can now utilise Azure to set up Firebrand’s classrooms, cutting 6-7 days of setup time to a mere ten minutes


How we converted our server rack space into a meeting room

Cloud migration means saying ‘Goodbye’ to the majority of your server racks and when we said our farewells, we suddenly came into possession of a whole new workspace.

Previously stuffed with whirring servers and their backups, we quickly made use of the space by converting it into a new meeting room.

Our absence of physical servers and specialised AC means that the Firebrand London office has more than halved power consumption, server estate footprint and redundant power requirement – cutting electricity bills and contributing to Firebrand's green commitment.


Why Firebrand migrated with Azure

As Microsoft are also the Operating System vendor, they are able to closely integrate the hosting platform with the desktop. For example, Operating System stack integrated to back-end infrastructure makes it easy for personal devices to securely and quickly access corporate resources through Azure Rights Management Service.



And despite launching later than other cloud services, Azure has learnt from its competitors – taking advantage of their successes and avoiding their failures.

Azure isn’t the only public cloud service available, but with over $15billion invested into Azure – it’s clear that Microsoft is committed to their advancing cloud service.


Putting themselves out of a job?

As more and more of Firebrand’s IT services become automated and self-sufficient – Bevan’s team is leaving behind the traditional IT support role.

It may sound like Firebrand’s IT team are putting themselves out of a job, but the fact is, when conventional support becomes automated, IT departments are able to apply their skills to business enhancing projects - like making Firebrand's business files more accessible by migrating them to Microsoft OneDrive.

Bevan and his staff now have more time to ensure Firebrand continues to be a cutting edge business with the best tools available.


Related articles:



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

Thursday, 30 July 2015

How the launch of Windows 10 affects your business


Microsoft’s highly anticipated Windows 10 was released yesterday. The new multi-platform operating system is intended to bridge the gap between Microsoft devices and merges the eccentric Windows 8, with more traditional components of Windows that users are familiar with.

Whilst achieving these things, the intention is to advance Microsoft’s operating system, giving businesses a platform for the long-term future of computing.

Also, for the first year, it is free to anyone with Windows 7 or 8 currently installed. Find out how to upgrade here.

How the new features can help your business

Being multi-platform, Windows 10 will increase interactivity across the workplace and when working from home. Transitioning between a PC and tablet has never been easier. The majority of Microsoft Office programs are now Universal apps, which means they are available across all Windows 10 platforms.

Operating features like the new start menu, Action center and Quick Access area will increase productivity, making day-to-day usage quicker and easier. Also, Microsoft’s new, faster browser Microsoft Edge, allows you to annotate, save and share web pages easily between colleagues.

Your business’s data will be more protected with the new Windows Passport. This removes the need to use passwords, which can be hacked, instead using fingerprint readers and eventually face and iris readers to gain access to data. This is vital for protecting sensitive data.



The range of platforms on which Windows 10 can operate



What else is new?

  • Security enhancements, including Windows Passport
  • Device Guard - ensures a device only runs apps authorised by your business
  • Device management features – allows you to lock down a device to for a function, for example a portable device for drivers to check their route, to manage multiple users who have Azure AD accounts and to manage VPN configuration
  • Enterprise Data Protection - preventing accidental data disclosure through apps and services outside of your control like e-mail, social media and the cloud
  • Provisioning packages – come with simple instructions so it is quick and easy to configure multiple devices in your business and without mobile device management infrastructure
  • Task view - makes switching between apps and windows easier giving you multiple desktops, allowing you to separate different areas of your work


How you can master Windows 10 first

Because Windows 10 is such a large scale release, expect it to affect many certifications. As referred to in our previous blog post, at WPC 2015, Microsoft unveiled six new MOCs relevant to Windows 10. As well as these, we expect Microsoft to announce a new curriculum for Microsoft MCSA: Windows 10 towards the end of 2015.


Related Articles:




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

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Microsoft plans more exam retirements in 2015 and 2016


By Tobin Chapman


In late 2014, Microsoft announced plans to retire 31 exams over the following 6-12 months.  With the last of those exams now set to retire in the next two weeks, details have emerged of a further 28 exams facing retirement.

Why are these Microsoft exams scheduled to be withdrawn?


A large driving force behind the planned exam retirements will be the wave of next generation enterprise technologies set for launch. The next 3 months will see new versions of all major Microsoft platforms - SQL Server, Windows Server, Windows Desktop, SharePoint and Exchange Server.

Enterprises will migrate to the latest technology with demand for MOCs transitioning also. To find the exams scheduled for withdrawal in the next 12 months, listed by technology, see below:

(nb. The information that follows is subject to change.)


Microsoft Dynamics


Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 and NAV 2015 were launched early in Q1, with new courses hitting the market in March. Whilst the following exams have been retired, there are currently no plans to create exams aligned to Dynamics 2015 products.

Despite this fact, demand  for the skills to manage the range of Dynamics CRM and NAV platforms is high.

Microsoft Dynamics exams retiring on July 31, 2015:

  • MB3-700: Microsoft Dynamics GP 2013 Installation & Configuration
  • MB3-701: Microsoft Dynamics GP 2013 Financials
  • MB5-700: Microsoft Dynamics C5 2012 Application Consultant
  •  MB6-869: Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 Development Introduction
  • MB6-870: Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 Trade and Logistics
  • MB6-871: Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 Financials
  • MB7-700: Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013 Installation & Configuration
  • MB7-701: Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013 Core Setup and Finance
  • MB7-702: Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013 C/Side Development



Exchange and Exchange Server


With Exchange Server 2013 having been out for a couple of years the majority of users have migrated away from the legacy 2010 version. This migration will continue with Exchange Server 206 expected in the next few months.

As demand for the exams declines retirement is planned for early 2016, possibly coinciding with the release of new MOCs aligned to Exchange Server 2016.  

Exams retiring on January 31, 2016


  • 70-662: TS: Microsoft Exchange Server 2010, Configuring
  • 70-663: PRO: Designing and Deploying Messaging Solutions with Microsoft Exchange


Lync and Lync Server


The retiring of Lync Server related exams is a similar story. Lync Server 2010 is now 5 years old and with the re-branded Skype for Business Server out now, the retirement of Lync Server 2013 focussed exams is unsuprising . 

Exams retiring on July 31, 2015


  • 74-322: Microsoft Lync Server 2010—Advanced Design and Deployment
Retiring on November 30, 2015


  • 70-336: Core Solutions of Microsoft Lync Server 2013
  •  70-337: Enterprise Voice Online Services with Microsoft Lync Server 2013
  • 74-335: Lync Network Readiness Assessment
  • 74-338: Lync 2013 Depth Support Engineer

SharePoint


The last of the MCTS and MCITP exams are now retiring. Following the re-invention of the MCSA and MCSE certifications in 2012, it was only a matter of time before the old acronyms removed from circulation. 

Plus, SharePoint Server 2016 is now mere weeks away meaning SharePoint Server 2010 will now be two versions out of date.

Exams retiring on January 31, 2016


  • 70-667: TS: Microsoft SharePoint 2010, Configuring
  • 70-668: PRO: Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Administrator


SQL Server


Originally planned for retirement on December 31, 2014, the following exams have avoided retirement on three separate occasions. It is clear demand continues amongst SQL Server professionals to transition MCITP certifications to the modern MCSE equivalent.

Time will tell if this deadline gets extended yet again.

Exams retiring on January 31, 2016
  • 70-459: Transition Your MCITP: Database Administrator 2008 or MCITP: Database Developer 2008 to MCSE: Data Platform
  • 70-460: Transition Your MCITP: Business Intelligence Developer 2008 to MCSE: Business Intelligence

Windows


In mid-2012 Microsoft announced the latest Windows 8, which given it is now 5 years since its predecessor (Windows 7) was released, it’s little surprise that the exams are being retired.

We also witness the retirement of the first MTA entry level certifications. With the retirement of 90-349, we wave good bye to the MTA: Windows Operating System Fundamentals certification.


  • 70-681: Windows 7 and Office 2010, Deploying
  • 98-349: Windows Operating System Fundamentals



Windows Server


A continued story of reduced demand for technologies. Windows Server 2016 is now only weeks away, pushing Windows Server 2008 two versions out of date. This retirement has been coming for a while as Microsoft announced retirement of several other Windows Server 2008 exams in their last batch.

This is also a continued example of the MCTS and MCITP  retirements.

Exams retiring on July 31, 2015


  • 70-643: TS: Windows Server 2008 Applications Infrastructure, Configuring
  • 70-647: Pro: Windows Server 2008, Enterprise Administrator
  • 70-649: TS: Upgrading Your MCSE on Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2008, Technology 
  • Specialist
  • 70-693: PRO: Windows Server 2008 R2, Virtualization Administrator
  • Exams retiring on January 31, 2016
  • 70-415: Implementing a Desktop Infrastructure
  • 70-416: Implementing Desktop Application Environments


Other technologies


Exams retiring on July 31, 2015


  • 74-674: TS: Delivering Value Planning Services

Monday, 27 July 2015

Top 5 reasons why you need your A+ certification

By Sarah Morgan

Knowing how to start your career in IT can be daunting. Certifications are a great way to boost your skills and CompTIA’s A+ certification is a fantastic place to begin.

During your preparation for the A+ certification you’ll learn maintenance and setup of PCs, laptops, printers, mobile devices and networks as well as the basics of operating systems, security and troubleshooting. Here are the top reasons why the A+ certification is a great way to kick start your career.


1. Widely supported in the IT industry

The A+ certification has been established for 20 years and a massive amount of revision resources are now available to help you learn the skills you need. This includes revision books like:




Online resources include CompTIA’s practice questions on their own website. TechExams has a CompTIA A+ forum where you can get useful posts from people who have already taken and passed the exam.

You can also find a full list of free revision resources on our previous blog post.





2. Access to advanced courses 

After passing your A+ certification, you can progress on to the Network+ and Security+, both well respected and desired certifications in their own right.

The Network+ will prove your knowledge of network architecture, operations and security as well as network theory and industry standards and practices.

Security+ covers in-depth network security, data and host security, access control and identity management and cryptography.

You can continue to develop your skills afterwards, on more advanced certifications. CCNA (Routing & Switching) will allow you to pursue networking and IP services and troubleshooting. The Microsoft MCSA: Windows Server 2012 cert will build upon security fundamentals in Microsoft based formats. Plus, after years of industry experience, you’ll be able to work towards certifications in advanced areas of security, like the Certified Ethical Hacker certification or the CISSP.


3. Universal and globally recognised

The skills you’ll learn on your A+ certification will be transferable across many types of hardware. This means it is applicable to many IT situations and tasks like security application and prevention, troubleshooting and configuring PC hardware. The A+ certification has a global reputation, meaning your skills will be valued by employers all over the world. Stats on the CompTIA website state that over 1,000,000 people have been A+ certified.


4. More opportunities to plan and diversify your career

The versatility of your newly gained skills, combined with lots of opportunities to specialise into new areas, gives you a fantastic chance to plan and change the direction of your career. It is also used as a reliable benchmark for hiring, promoting and career planning because it proves you have a strong foundation of working IT knowledge.

The A+ certification allows you access to a wide range of career opportunities. For example, security roles are specialised and require qualifications that are hard to achieve. According to itjobswatch.co.uk, 100% of Chief Information Security Officers, earning an average of £100,000 a year, have a CISSP. Establishing yourself with an A+ certification can set you on the path to diversify into an exciting role in a specialised field like vulnerability analyst or penetration tester.


5. You’ll have the potential to work in higher paid roles

According to itjobswatch.com, the average salary for someone who is A+ certified is £23,500. After you gain your cert, you will begin on the path to higher level certifications and higher level job roles. Jobs available to someone A+ certified include, Support Engineer, Analyst and IT Support.  It’s a fantastic way to invest in your future career opportunities.





How you can get your A+ certification fast.

If you’re looking to get trained quickly, Firebrand’s A+ course can get you certified in just four days. You can also combine your A+ certification with the Network+ course and achieve both in just seven days. The resources available to you and the boost the certification can give to your career mean there has never been a better time to get your A+ certification.


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, 24 July 2015

4 new Cyber Security certifications in 2015


By Tobin Chapman


It is more important than ever for you to protect your company against cyber-attacks. According to a recent government survey, cyber-crime costs UK businesses a reported £27 billion a year

Each individual breach can cost large businesses as much as £1.15 million on average. A huge stigma exists around cyber fraud due to the damage it can have to a company’s reputation. This has meant that as much as 85% of fraud and cyber-crime goes unreported.

Demand for cyber security skills is going up as businesses are increasingly recognising the need to protect their assets. To meet this demand, we’ve seen a series of new cyber security courses launched in 2015. 

There have been new courses from established security vendors as well as existing vendors entering the market for the first time.

Earning a high level Cyber security certification can net you a career earning as much as £82,500, according to ITJobsWatch. The release of these new certifications will help you develop the skills you need to protect your business from a cyber-attack.


AXELOS RESILIA™


RESILIA CertificationRESILIA™ is a methodology for cyber resilience. It employs best practice techniques and standards that you or your business can apply. In short it helps you be ‘resilient’ against attacks through being able to detect, respond to and recover from cyber-attacks. 

AXELOS has developed a course aligned to RESILIA allowing you develop the skills required to implement the methodology. Completing the course and achieving the qualification allows you to make he most of RESILIA whilst demonstrating you have the skills to do so. RESILIA is AXELOS’ first cyber security certification.  

Employing certified people that can react and act on cyber-attacks is critical for maintaining the integrity of your business. RESILIA ensures this by keeping your reputation intact, customers loyal and operations up and running.  

With Firebrand's 5 day accelerated RESILIA course, you can certify in just 5 days.


(ISC)2 Certified Cloud Security Professional


CCSP Logo Stacked
Cloud is currently one of the fastest growing technologies, with 4 in 5 UK businesses using cloud services. When discussing cloud, security continues to be a primary concern for businesses. Without having access to the physical servers that your data is stored on it is important to do everything possible to protect it. 

CCSP certification recognises this, developed by (ISC)2 and Cloud Security Alliance, the course gives professionals a deep-seated knowledge and competency through hands on experience.

By attending the course, you'll learn:


  • Architectural concepts and design requirements
  • Cloud data security
  • Cloud platform & infrastructure security
  • Cloud application security
  • Compliance


Cisco Cybersecurity Specialist



Cisco’s first cybersecurity certification is designed for professional security analysts. Thecybersecurity specialist certification covers important areas of competency, including event monitoring, security event, alarm and traffic monitoring and incident response. 

With no prerequisites is it a course available to anyone who needs to be able to mitigate and avoid cyber-attacks in their day to day job, or anyone who wishes to move into a profession involving cyber security. 


ISACA Cybersecurity Nexus



ISACA’s Cybersecurity Nexus program is designed to be the most comprehensive and desirable certification on the market. The course does not rely solely on knowledge, but tests in a virtual ‘cyber lab’ environment in order to prove actual technical skill, ability and performance. 

It is available at three levels; Practitioner, Specialist and Expert: 

CSX Practitioner – made up of three courses and gives a foundation of knowledge in ISACA’s five areas of cyber security; Identify, Detect, Protect, Respond and Recover. Firebrand offers an accelerated 9 day course which combines all 3 courses - 40% faster than traditional training. 

CSX Specialist – This gives you the option to specialise in any of the five areas, with a course available for each. (coming soon)

CSX Expert – This is the highest level available and shows you are a master-level security professional capable of identifying, analysing, responding to and mitigating the most complex cyber security incidents. (coming soon)



Some businesses may find certain qualifications more useful than others. If you’d like to find out more about which certification is right for you, you can read more on Firebrand's dedicated security section, or give us a call on 080 80 800 888.



Tuesday, 21 July 2015

See Windows Server 2016 first with Microsoft and Firebrand



Be the first to see Windows Server 2016 up close at a free central London event, delivered in partnership with Microsoft.

You’ll get the UK’s first look at Windows Server 2016 - including three hours of technical content, demos and Q&As presented by Microsoft Technical Evangelist, Ed Baker.

Get your headstart in Windows Server 2016

At this official Microsoft event you’ll be introduced to key new Windows Server 2016 features – including Nano Server demos, a remotely managed installation optimised for cloud and DevOps workflows. You’ll also get introduced to new features across PowerShell, Azure stack, security and storage.

Don’t miss this chance to learn Windows Server 2016 before anyone else; ask your own questions and network with likeminded professionals.

Be amongst the first to see Windows Server 2016 in action

There are only 100 tickets to this free Technical Preview, running in the morning of Thursday 13th August - sign up before Friday 24th July to secure your seat. Refreshments will be provided.

Register below to get your first look at Windows Server 2016. Or visit our Eventbrite page for more information.


Location:
Microsoft
80-100 Victoria Street
London, SW1E 5JL
GB

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, 17 July 2015

Microsoft unveil new MOCs at WPC 2015

This year the 2015 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference was held in Orlando, from the 12th July until the 16th. Whilst we were expecting news on SQL Server 2016, Windows Server 2016 and SharePoint 2016, Microsoft also unveiled new MOC titles.

In this blog we’ve compiled a list of the newly announced MOC’s, including discussion and speculation. Microsoft has not yet stated which certification, if any, each MOC is relevant to.



Windows 10

Windows 10, Microsoft’s new multi-platform operating system, is planned for release on 29th July. Microsoft revealed new MOC titles to accompany the launch of Windows 10, which should align to MCSA, MCSE and MCSD certifications.

Expected to be released around September this year, Microsoft revealed these new MOC titles:

  • Installing and configuring Windows 10
  •  Deploying and Managing Windows 10 in the Enterprise
  •  Partner Applied Workshop: What’s new in Windows 10
  • Supporting and Troubleshooting Windows 10 in the Enterprise
  • Deploying Windows Desktops and Enterprise Applications
  • Administering System Center Configuration Manager and Intune

As Windows 10 is an upgrade for Windows 8.1, one would assume that certifications like MCSA: Windows 8.1 would be updated too. The first two MOCs in the above list are similar to those in MCSA: Windows 8.1 titled “Configuring Windows 8.1” and “Supporting Windows 8.1”. This supports the thinking that these new MOCs are direct upgrades.

Plus, the “Supporting and Troubleshooting Windows 10 in the Enterprise” could be an addition to the MCSA: Windows 10, whilst the “Partner Applied Workshop: What’s new in Windows 10” MOC appears completely new.

The current version of “Deploying Windows Desktops and Enterprise Applications” is included in MCSE: Enterprise Devices and Apps certification. It looks likely that we will now see an update of this certification that includes these new MOCs.








Windows Server/System Center

These MOCs apply to another new release for Microsoft, Windows Server 2016, as well as System Center:

  • Fundamentals of a Windows Server Infrastructure 
  • Fundamentals of Windows Server Storage and Virtualisation 
  • Configuring and Managing Windows 10 Devices (ecm) 
  • Planning and Implementing a Microsoft Infrastructure 
  • Planning and Implementing an Advanced Microsoft Infrastructure 
  • Planning and Implementing an Enterprise Windows Infrastructure 
  • Managing and Maintaining a Windows Cloud Infrastructure 
  • Upgrading your MCSA/MCSE to Windows Server Vnext

We can only assume that the first three courses in the list apply to the new MCSA: Windows Server 2012 R2 course because the current MOC titles are worded slightly differently; “Configuring Advanced Windows Server 2012 Services” and “Administering Windows Server 2012” for example.

The new Windows Server 2016 (WS2016) is expected September/October and the new MOCS normally arrive 3-6 months after the technology, so expect these in 2016. These could possibly be upgrades to the curriculum for “MCSA Windows Server 2012 R2”, “MCSE:Server Infrastructure”, “MCSE: Desktop Infrastructure” and “MCSE: Private Cloud”. However the names are so far removed, it is hard to tell what Microsoft has planned.

“Upgrading your MCSA/MCSE to Windows Server Vnext” is an upgrade path from Windows Server 2012 to Windows Server 2016. If you have an existing MCSA or MCSE relating to Windows Server 2016 (could also be related to Windows Server 2008), this will be the course for upgrading your certification.

Data Platform

SQL Server 2016 is scheduled for released in September or October this year. This means certifications like MCSA: SQL Server, MCSE:Business Intelligence (SQL Server) and MCSE: Data Platform (SQL Server) will be updated. The newly unveiled MOC titles are:

  • Updating your MCSD to SQL Server 2016 (this is an upgrade path) 
  • Install and Configure SQL Databases 
  • Query Data with Transact-SQL 
  • Analyze and Visualize Data with Power BI 
  • Developing SQL Databases 
  • Developing Data Clients with MVC and LINQ 
  • Performance Tuning and Optimizing SQL Databases 
  • Developing Non-Relational Databases 
  • Provisioning a SQL Database Infrastructure 
  • Operating a SQL Database Infrastructure 
  • Implementing SQL Server High Availability 
  • Implementing a SQL Data Warehouse 
  • Implementing Data Models and Reports 
  • Delivering Dashboards and Self-Service BI

Again, we are likely to see the new MOCs arrive in early 2016, 3-6 months after SQL Server 2016’s release. Many of these titles are similar to those in current SQL Server certifications -  e.g. “Querying Microsoft SQL Server” and “Implementing Data Warehouse with Microsoft SQL Server” in the MCSA: SQL Server certification.

Expect some to be added to other certifications, but it is difficult to predict exactly how and where. In addition, “Updating your MCSD to SQL Server 2016” is clearly an upgrade path for the new technology.

Messaging

Lync Server began the transition to Skype for Business Server on April 14th 2015. Businesses now benefit from a familiar Skype interface, a more global reach and continuity from existing Lync features. At WPC Microsoft revealed these new Messaging MOCs:

  • Core Solutions of Microsoft Skype for Business 2015
  • Managing Office 365 Identities and Services
  • Core Solutions of Microsoft Exchange Server 2016
  • Advanced Solutions of Microsoft Exchange Server 2016 (no exam)
  • Core solutions of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2016
  • Advanced Solutions of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2016 (no exam)

In line with this, the MCSE: Communication certification will be updated, probably with “Core Solutions of Microsoft Skype for Business 2015.”

The second MOC on the list, “Managing Office 365 Identities and Services” is included within the current MCSA: Office 365 certification. It’s safe to assume that there is a direct update on the way for this certification.

“Core Solutions of Microsoft Exchange Server 2016” and “Advanced Solutions of Microsoft Exchange Server 2016”, are directly linked to the MOCs within the existing MCSE: Messaging. Finally, the last two MOCs are part of the MCSE: SharePoint course. We can be confident that this is a direct curriculum update for the existing MCSE SharePoint certification.

It’s worth noting that currently, both the “Advanced Solutions” of Microsoft Exchange/SharePoint Server MOCs, align to an exam. Whereas, the versions revealed at WPC the 2016 technologies do not align to an exam. Perhaps this will become clearer when Microsoft Exchange Server is released around September or October.

We’ll keep you updated with anymore MOC news coming out of WPC and beyond.  As always, expect accelerated Firebrand courses for Microsoft’s newest technologies.


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.