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. 

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Microsoft certification and competency announcements from WPC 2015


By Tobin Chapman


Thursday 16th marked the final day of the Microsoft Worldwide Partnership Conference. Alongside some major technology reveals, Microsoft also announced certification and competency updates that could affect you.



Demand for cloud and mobile services is increasing rapidly. In line with this, Microsoft has introduced two new competencies. A competency represents capability, expertise and commitment to a specific Microsoft solution area. Competencies are available in Silver and Gold, with Silver being the standard competency and Gold only available to businesses that demonstrate best-in-class capability within their chosen area.

Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) competency

EMS is the final addition to the group of cloud competencies that Microsoft has launched in the last year. On top of the core benefits to any Microsoft competency, partners will also benefit from unlimited signature cloud support, eligibility to participate in Enterprise Mobility (EM) deployment offers, eligibility to participate in Deployment Planning Services and Marketplace / Pinpoint Prioritisation. The requirements for either Gold or Silver awards are not yet available.

Windows and Devices competency

Partners interested in building customer offers around Windows 10 will now have a dedicated learning path. This comes in the form of a new Windows and Devices competency. Partners will also be able to access additional Windows 10 software and key resources like Windows Accelerate.

Windows Accelerate provides finance and resources from Microsoft to support partners in demonstrating the value of Windows 10. The program is designed to help you to develop prototypes for Windows 10 apps and designs, tailored to the needs of your customers.

Requirements for Gold and Silver are not available yet for the Windows and Devices competency.



Sales Assessments are gone!

When attempting to complete a competency, partners previously had to pass a sales assessment that proved they meet certain technical requirements. This has now been removed to allow partners to reallocate time from admin towards learning. Technical requirements can now be met by those that have the Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) qualification.

New Application Certification Platform

This makes it easier for partners to certify their applications for competency requirements. It will enable cloud ISVs and App builders to qualify for Cloud Competencies using only their certified cloud applications.

About the Author:        
Tobin possesses a passion for IT and regularly writes for Firebrand Training on certification, training and IT industry news.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Windows Server 2003 End of Life is now!


By Sarah Morgan


Microsoft’s Windows Server 2003 support ended today. If you haven’t made preparations, we’re going to give you some critical advice on how react to the security risks and impending costs now facing your business.


What does Windows Server 2003 End of Service mean?


End of service essentially means that Microsoft will not be releasing anymore updates or fixes. This means existing or new security vulnerabilities will not be fixed. Should you wish to stick with Windows Server 2003 you should consider the following:
  • You'll now need maintain the security of  your server independently. This is likely to cost £1000s. A TechNet post from Alex Fu estimates up to a hefty £120,000 a year cost for custom support.
  • Windows Server 2003 no longer complies with PCI Security Standards. VISA and Mastercard require PCI compliance. This means any websites currently running on Windows Server 2003 will no longer be able to process MasterCard and VISA payment services from today 
  • Future software and tech releases are unlikely to be backwards compatible, leaving your server with little options for progress.

RIP
Image courtesy of jchandler

Where to Migrate?


To avoid security issues and PCI non-compliance, it is best to migrate as soon as possible to a different platform. There are multiple pathways available to you:


  • Windows Server 2012 is the standard upgrade from the 2003 version (and of course the 2008). With the ability to switch between server core and server GUI and a redesigned server manager interface, it makes it far easier to manage multiple servers. Further, detailed information can be found here 
  • Microsoft’s cloud technology offering is Azure. Its benefits include increased flexibility and protection, with the ability to be able to buy virtual servers on a large scale at the click of a button. There are also reduced setup costs because operations are up and running immediately after purchase. 
  • It is perfectly viable to have a combination of the two technologies, having some servers located locally, whilst also investing in Azure and cloud technology. 


Get the Skills you need for Windows Server 2012 or Azure


For those looking for guidance on migrating away from Windows Server 2003, Microsoft now offers a “migration planning assistant service” that can guide you through the whole process.

Once you’ve made your new platform choice, there are a series of Microsoft certification courses to bring you up to speed on the latest technology. The two most popular options:

MCSA: Windows Server 2012

For those migrating to Windows Server 2012, this course will teach you the skills required to make the most of the platform. You'll learn vital skills like:
  • Deploying and managing Windows Server 2012
  • Configuring advanced Windows Server 2012 network and file services
  • Implementing a range of relevant software including IPv6 and Hyper-V

Microsoft Specialist: Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions

This course is for those who have gone down the Microsoft Azure route. Once you've migrated your on-premise service loads to the cloud, learn key skills like:
  • Planning and creating Azure virtual machines
  • Implement, monitor, backup and monitor storage solutions
  • Deploy and configure websites, as well as publishing content


What are you waiting for? Cyber criminals across the globe could already be targeting your unsupported system.



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, 13 July 2015

Firebrand launches a massive thirteen new accelerated courses


By Sarah Morgan



Firebrand continues to accelerate traditional IT training! We’re thrilled to announce the release of a massive 13 new Firebrand courses.

CISCO CCNA Collaboration - 8 days

Develop your collaboration and video skills, with Official Cisco Curriculum and Instructors helping your voice, video, data and mobile applications skills grow. In the real-world this will help you carry out and maintain most common industry protocol. You’ll learn how to:

  •  Successfully implement and troubleshoot CISCO video network devices
  • Provide operator care and network care – all in line with official Cisco standards
  • Assess network requirements of video solutions


CISCO CCNP Collaboration - 12 days

The follow on from the CCNA collaboration certification, again, the Official Cisco Curriculum and Instructors give you expert skills, so you can lead transformation in your organisation. You’ll build a variety of expert collaboration skills relevant to Cisco. This accelerated course covers:

  • Single-site off-cluster calling
  • Bandwidth management
  • Cisco IP telephony and video troubleshooting


CISCO CCNA Industrial - 3 days, 50% faster than traditional training!

In this brand new CISCO accelerated course, learn how to manage industrial systems, aligned with the highest standard of industry practices. This accelerated course blends IT and industrial networks and how to manage and operate them. Official Cisco Curriculum and Instructors cover elements such as:

  • Industrial networking concepts and components
  • Ethernets and IPs
  • Configuring and troubleshooting PROFINET

CCNA Industrial is Cisco’s IoT-focused certification, designed to help enterprise professionals develop the key skills needed as a result of the Internet of Everything (IoE) / Internet of Things (IoT).



Amazon Web Services (AWS) Certified Solutions Architect - Associate - 3 days

This Firebrand accelerated course will prepare you for the Certified Solutions Architect Associate exam. You’ll learn how to:

  • Ingress and egress of data in AWS
  • Identification of AWS architectural best practices
  • Estimate AWS costs


Amazon Web Services (AWS) Certified Solutions Architect – Professional - 3 days

The follow on to the Amazon Web Services Certified Solutions Architect – Associate. This Firebrand course will help you gain advanced technical knowledge. Skills you learn will include:

  • Designing and deploying enterprise-wide scalable operations on AWS
  • Designing hybrid cloud architectures
  • Implement cost control strategies


ISACA CSX Practitioner Level 1: Identification and Protection - 3 days

In just three days, you’ll become familiar and competent with key cyber security skills, useful in the industry. On this brand new and official ISACA course, consisting of 50% hands-on lab exercises; you’ll learn key cyber security skills including:

  • Industry developed protection mechanisms 
  • Threat reports
  • Vulnerability analysis 
  • System log evaluation 
  • How to use identification and enumeration tools


ISACA CSX Practitioner Level 2 Detection - 3 days

Discover and prevent threats from harming your business. In another 50% lab-based accelerated course, you’ll learn from experiences you can apply to real-world situations. This official ISACA course will develop the following skills:

  • Analysing network output 
  • Detecting malware
  • Analysing attacks


ISACA CSX Practitioner Level 3 Respond and Recover – 3 days

Master what is needed to produce a thorough incident response plan (IRP). This official ISACA course will help you respond to, contain and recover from a cyber-attack. Domains covered include:

  • Performing a business continuity plan 
  • System restoration 
  • Attack isolation

Firebrand also offers an all-inclusive 9 day CSX Practitioner course, 40% faster than traditional training.



AXELOS ITIL Practitioner - 2 days

Brand new and centred on Continual Service Improvement (CSI) and how ITIL practices can be adapted within your organisation. It is also the follow on to the AXELOS ITIL foundation. This accelerated ITIL Practitioner course has been developed to increase the value of ITIL within your business. You’ll learn how to:

  • Use ITIL on a day-to-day basis
  • Use automation, real-time reporting and the cloud to improve service design and delivery
  • Use frameworks such as Lean, Agile and SIAM


AXELOS Cyber Resilience: Foundation & Practitioner (RESILIA) - 5 days

This brand new accelerated course works on a basis of knowing how to deal with cyber-attacks when they occur, as well as preventing them Covers both components of Foundation and Practitioner programs, as well as including both exams. You’ll become well practised in areas such as:

  • Control reporting and good governance
  • Enhanced collaboration and frameworks of using ITIL within IT security
  • Common language across IT and non-IT teams


AXELOS PRINCE2 AGILE Certification - 2 days

Apply established AGILE methodology, boosting the efficiency of your projects. This brand new accelerated 2 day course combines the flexibility and responsiveness of agile thinking within the PRINCE2 concept. It requires the PRINCE2 Practitioner certification as a prerequisite. Applicable to any type of project, you’ll learn how to:

  • Apply basic AGILE concepts
  • Combine PRINCE2 and AGILE methodologies
  • Use those skills in a practical environment


GIAC Security Essentials (GSEC) - 4 days

Establish a broad and solid foundation of knowledge of security essentials. Ideal for entry-level security professionals, operations personnel and managers alike. Learn:

  • How to design network architecture, running both Windows and Linux command tools, working with VMware, creating virtual security systems and policies
  • Networking concepts
  • Secure communications
  • Windows, UNIX and Linux security


GIAC Penetration Tester (GPEN) - just 5 days

Defend your business with this accelerated 5 day course. Using established penetration methodologies, you’ll learn how to:

  • Conduct a real-life penetration test and the legal issues surrounding it
  • Perform password attacks 
  • Benefits and limitations of command shell access 
  • Target and vulnerability scanning


200+ courses and counting

Firebrand’s portfolio now exceeds 200 accelerated courses from vendors like Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA.
(ISC)2

We’re committed to developing new accelerated courses. To stay up to date with our newest and most cutting edge training follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ and LinkedIn.


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