Wednesday, 1 October 2014

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

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

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

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


What to expect in Windows 10


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

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

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

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


New Features


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

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




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




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




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




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



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

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



What the experts are saying


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Techcrunch - Alex Wilhelm and Frederic Lardinois
Microsoft Announces Windows 10

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

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

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

Make your own decision


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

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

About the Author

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

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Firebrand reveals winner of Free Training for Life


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

And now the wait is finally over.

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

Meet the winner

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

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


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

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

Unlimited training you say?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 26 September 2014

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

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

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

MCSE: Server Infrastructure


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

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

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

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


MCSE: Desktop Infrastructure


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


MCSE: Private Cloud


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

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

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

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

Exams needed to upgrade:

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


MCSE: Data Platform


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

Who’s it for: Database analysts and designers.

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

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


MCSE: Business Intelligence


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

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

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

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


MCSE: Messaging


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

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

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

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


MCSE: Communication


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

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

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

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

You’ll just have to pass these exams:

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


MCSE: SharePoint


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

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

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

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

You’ll just need to pass:

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

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

About the Author:

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

Top 10 reasons you should be Lean Six Sigma certified


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

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


1. Lead your organisation to reduce errors and defects

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


Definitely Six Sigma certified
Image courtesy of freedigitalsphotos.net / Suat Eman

3. You’ll directly improve customer relations

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

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

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

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


4. Ensure industry and government compliance

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

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


5. Improve your organisation’s use of resources

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

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


6. Stand out from the crowd

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

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

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


7. Command a bigger salary

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

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


8. You’ll be prepared for leadership roles

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

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


9. Lift morale within your organisation

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

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


10. A competitive advantage for your organisation

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

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


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


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

Friday, 19 September 2014

Top 10 TOGAF resources you don’t need to pay for


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You won’t have to shell out any cash for these useful resources. From exam simulators to enterprising ebooks – you’ll definitely be in a better position to pass your TOGAF 9.1 exam first time.

Leading the development of open, vendor-neutral IT standards

 In no particular order...



1. TOGAF Exam simulator

Manuel Di Toma has created a nifty resource for Enterprise Architects studying for their TOGAF 9 certification. Manuel has ensured this exam simulator has been verified by TOGAF® 9 certified Architects. However, it’s worth noting that The Open Group are not directly involved in this resource.


Create a basic account and you’ll be able to save your exam progress and return to it later by logging in.

Access it here.






2. TOGAF 9 in pictures

Created by software company Orbus, this resource is incredible for visual learners. Though not complex enough to rely entirely upon, this resource will make for an undeniably useful revision tool.


You’ll have to spend 2-3 minutes creating an account to access the pdf file but it’s a small price to pay for this useful document.



3. TOGAF 9 Multiple Choice Questions


Composed by enterprise architect, Chris Eaton, and hosted on his blog, these questions mimic the multiple choice sections of the TOGAF 9 exam. Thanks to a great community response, Chris has also released a set of exam scenario questions.

There aren’t many of either question type but it remains a great means of preparation for your TOGAF exam.

Find both sets of questions, in pdf format, here.



4. Another set of TOGAF 9 Multiple Choice Questions


This time the questions are provided by Udayan Banerjee. The set of practice questions are simply hosted on his blog and do not require a download. Make sure you scroll down for the answers!



5. But wait, there’s more! TOGAF 9 Foundation Multiple Choice Questions


Hosted by Glasgow based Techbolo, this is a treasure trove of TOGAF foundation exam questions. Created through PHP, this exam format allows you to resume, skip and return to previous questions.



6. Official TOGAF courseware


This goldmine of slides, reference cards, templates and white papers will be a great supplement to any Enterprise Architects revision efforts. Not to mention, these are official TOGAF resources from The Open Group, so you know you can’t go far wrong.



7. Enterprise Architecture for Dummies 


This 55 page presentation is a great introduction to TOGAF. Despite it being clear that this resource originally accompanied a verbal presentation, it’s still worth checking out.



8. TOGAF 9.1 Quick Start Guide for IT Enterprise Architects 


‘Why would anybody need a short 60 page book on TOGAF 9.1 if TOGAF itself is a 690 page architecture framework?’ asks Wolfgang Keller in the preface to his book.

Well, Wolfgang argues that whilst TOGAF 9.1 covers most things in-depth, it doesn’t provide a quick overview for IT enterprise architects.


‘There are areas of an IT Enterprise Architect’s task list which are not covered by TOGAF at the moment. This makes it a rewarding task to give people interested in TOGAF an idea of what they can expect and what they have to find elsewhere.’


Access his 60 page eBook here.



9. Frequently Asked Questions about TOGAF


If you just want a broad overview of everything TOGAF has to offer, this is a great place to start. These questions are all ones we are asked regularly (and yes, we did create this resource ourselves)



10. ‘TOGAF Distilled’ from Orbus Software


These well produced videos provide a minimalistic overview of TOGAF. There are 8 in total and each cohesively describes a top-level view of the enterprise architecture.



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, 18 September 2014

5 tips to help you pass your Network+ exam


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CompTIA’s Network+ certification is a vendor neutral, entry-level credential. It focuses on key elements of networking, such as installing, maintaining and troubleshooting basic networks. Earlier this year we have shared 5 tips to help you prepare for your A+ exam (which is strongly recommended prior to the N+) so it only seems fair if we do the same for the Network+.

The exam takes 90 minutes. It is a mixture of multiple choice and performance-based questions totalling 100 at most. You need to score at least 720 (roughly 80%) in order to pass. And now, let’s see how you can make sure that you’ll pass.  

You can never go wrong with the official source

Check out CompTIA’s website to boost your learning. The website offers a comprehensive overview of exam objectives, sample questions and a trial version of CompTIA CertMaster. This tool uses the latest scientific findings and tricks to enhance your learning and help you remember and retain large amounts of information more easily.

Firebrand Learn

Make your way to Firebrand Learn, our free self-study platform where you can access the entire courseware for the Network+ certification. This will help you cover everything from Network Technologies to Network Security. Expect plenty of illustrations and graphs to aid your understanding of the focus areas. 


Read Mike Meyers’ books

Mike Meyers is a best-selling author of CompTIA certification books. Check out his Network+ Certification All-in-One Exam Guide and Network+ Certification Passport and you’ll cover everything you need to know about passing the Network+ exam.

Test your knowledge with quizzes

Once you have covered everything, testing your knowledge should be your next step. ProProfs is an online quiz maker that offers a range of Network+ questions, provided by CompTIA. Why is it any different than the CompTIA sample questions mentioned earlier then? ProProfs times your test and gives you the answers straight away, so you can monitor your progress whilst doing the exam - that’s why.

And the obvious ones…

Read the questions AND the answers with equal care. These really seem obvious, but sometimes you might get answer options that only differ slightly from one another and that’s when you really need to understand what the question asks, so stay sharp and read them carefully.

Reading your responses is probably even more important. Bear in mind that there can be close acronyms of terms, like OS2 vs. OSI. Also, if you think a question is wrong, you are probably wrong. So instead of doubting the question, double check your answer and make sure you address it as well as possible. If you think a question is difficult to answer, don’t waste time on trying to crack it. Go for the easy ones first and you’ll have time in the end to go back to more difficult ones.

Follow these steps to help your preparation and during the exam, and get your Network+ exam out of the way. Good luck! 

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

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Practice beats theory – small and medium businesses value apprenticeships over degrees


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Recent university graduates have to face the fact that their degrees don’t land as many job opportunities with potential employers as they used to. Read on to find out what the reasons are behind this downturn in the value of university qualifications.

Practice outweighs theory

According to research by Sandler Training, employers, predominantly small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) have become more focused on the practical skills a potential new employee can bring to the table. This is purely because practical skills immediately deliver more tangible effects on a business.

The research also revealed university graduates are slightly less likely to be hired than those who have chosen the apprenticeship route.  Although the difference is marginal at present (51% vs. 49% in favour of apprentices), based on the responses of the surveyed SME’s, there’s an expected 20% rise in the hiring of apprentices over the next five years. At the same time, there’s only a mere 7% expected increase in the numbers of graduates hired.

What do students think?

Toni Pearce, NUS president, recently said: “An NUS poll of over 1,000 graduates found over half of them believing that ‘gaining experience’ is the main barrier to securing a job.”

A different poll by Ipsos MORI also revealed that youngsters in the UK think degree-level apprenticeships are better for future careers prospects than a traditional university degree. However, despite the growing popularity of vocational training paths, the majority of parents (56%) are more likely to encourage their children to take on a degree over an apprenticeship.


Do you want to avoid being rejected for having no work experience? Get hands-on with an IT apprenticeship and you’ll learn crucial skills, while you also earn money. Watch the following video by the National Apprenticeship Service to get a better idea of what you can achieve as an IT apprentice.



Apply now and kick-start your career

If you’re committed and not afraid to “get your hands dirty” we have tons of great opportunities for you. Visit Firebrand Apprenticeships to find out more about our programmes and the qualification you will get whilst working a paid, full-time role.

What Firebrand Apprentices said

  • “Loved it! Don’t want to leave. Enjoyed all of it, learned some great things.” – Timothy Rabson
  • “I feel that this has started to become the most rewarding educational experience I have had...The instructor makes lessons interesting, treats us like adults and respects us.” – Elizabeth MacKenzie
Learn more about Firebrand Apprenticeships 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. 

Friday, 12 September 2014

Massive Cisco CCNP Changes Incoming


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In response to the ever evolving state of networking and growing demand from employers, Cisco will be making huge improvements to their CCNP certification.

So what exactly are the CCNP changes? Here’s a quick FAQ to explain…


Q. What’s new?


A. The CCNP has been renamed the Cisco Certified Network Professional Routing and Switching certification (or CCNP Routing and Switching). All three courses in the current CCNP certification route have been updated and new exams have also been introduced.

Cisco has removed wireless, voip and video content topics from the certification. In addition, IPv6, Cisco StackWise, VSS and DMVPN technologies have been introduced.














Q. Why has the name been changed?


A. Changes in job requirements have led to an increased focus on routing and switching technology. This rebrand brings the name in line with other related technology certifications.


Q. How are the exams changing?


A. The exams are being altered to reflect the new content of the CCNP Routing and Switching certification.


  • Exam 642-902 ROUTE is being replaced by 300-101 ROUTE
  • Exam 642-813 SWITCH is being replaced by 300-115 SWITCH
  • Exam 642-932 TSHOOT is being replaced by 300-135 TSHOOT

The current exams are set to retire on the 30th January 2015.


Q. But I’m already training for the CCNP! What happens to me?


A. Candidates already in the process of attaining the CCNP certification will have the option to complete their remaining exams before they are retired on 30th January 2015.
If you have completed some of the CCNP exams, you can mix these with the new CCNP Routing and Switching exams (you won’t need to take any of your passed exams again).

However, the new 300-135 TSHOOT exam assumes knowledge of 300-115 SWITCH and 300-101 ROUTE, so candidates are advised to review the newer curriculum during their preparation.

Q. Have the prerequisites changed?

A. Valid Cisco CCNA Routing and Switching certification or any Cisco CCIE certification will still act as a prerequisite. Nothing has changed.


Q. I already hold the CCNP, how can I achieve the new CCNP Routing and Switching?


A. If you are currently a CCNP you will automatically become a CCNP Routing and Switching holder in Cisco’s database. Either way, you’ll definitely benefit from educating yourself on the new topics.



Q. What are the recertification requirements for CCNP


A. The CCNP Routing and Switching certification is valid for three years.



And remember, if you do want to get certified before the legacy exams are lost forever – the last day to take them is the 30th January 2015. 


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. 

Five reasons why you’ll want the MCSD: Web Applications


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The Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD): Web Application certification is one of the four top tier credentials designed for professionals and developers. But let’s see what the biggest reasons are for adding this certification to your collection.  

A proof of your skills and expertise

First and foremost, earning your MCSD won’t just mean adding a fancy four-letter suffix to your name. The MCSD: Web Applications will improve, as well as prove your ability to build high quality applications, which will meet current market criteria, using Microsoft tools, techniques and technologies.
Needless to say, having the MCSD: Web Applications under your belt will significantly increase your hiring chances against your non-certified peers. According to recent studies 59% of managers feel that a certification shows the candidate’s commitment, while 58% think that a certification shows initiative and innovativeness.

Besides developing your own skills and abilities, your MCSD will also positively impact on your organisation’s and/or team’s performance.

Great earning potential

MCSDs in general bear great financial benefits and the Web Applications certification is no exception. According to ITJobswatch.com the salary trend shows a solid average of £40,000 per annum, however you can also see that the top 25th percentile range has been around and above £50,000 a year for the last 4-5 years.

Source: ITJobswatch.com

Develop Windows Store apps for a higher commission

In hope of catching up with Google Play and Apple’s AppStore, Microsoft is offering a rather generous commission for developers creating and selling their applications through the Windows Store. The starting revenue share base is 70%, i.e. Microsoft takes a 30% fee/commission for offering the app in the Windows Store. However this becomes an 80%-20% split once an app has achieved $25,000.
So if you’re an (aspiring) app developer, this is a fantastic opportunity to cash in on your expertise. For more information read the App Developer Agreement.

The age of HTML5

HTML5 is the latest revision of the HTML standard and since the end of 2012 it is a candidate recommendation of the World Wide Web Consortium. HTML5 reduces development time; therefore it is cheaper and faster than its predecessors, not to mention that it is also mobile friendly.

The MCSD: Web Applications teaches you how to create style and develop HTML5 pages, and use HTML5 APIs to add interactive features to a web application. These skills will certainly put you in the camp of HTML5 developers, who are currently in very high demand.

Cloud business with Azure

A few years ago cloud computing was just a buzzword, rather than a key piece of the IT jigsaw. However, over recent years the cloud has become one of fastest growing, most versatile technologies and of course cloud professionals are also in high demand.

Azure is Microsoft’s cloud platform created for building, implementing and managing apps and services through a network of datacentres supervised and managed by Microsoft. With the MCSD: Web Applications, you’ll be a master of Azure. You’ll learn everything from creating and coding Azure services to configuring Azure diagnostics.



There you have it, five reasons why should not think twice about getting your MCSD: Web Applications certification. The sooner you get it, the sooner you can enjoy these benefits. 


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, 1 September 2014

Do Microsoft’s exam extensions affect you?


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Microsoft has extended the availability of a large number of exams for soon to be legacy certifications: MCITP, MCTS and MCPD.

Originally due to expire on July 31st this year, the following exams will now be available until 31st July 2015:


MCTS - Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist

Exam 70-177: Microsoft Project Server 2010, Configuration

Exam 70-433: Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Business Intelligence Development and Maintenance

Exam 70-511: Microsoft .NET Framework 4, Windows Applications Development

Exam 70-513: Microsoft .NET Framework 4, Service Communication Applications

Exam 70-515: Microsoft .NET Framework 4, Web Applications Development

Exam 70-515: MCTS: Microsoft .NET Framework 4, Data Access

Exam 70-663: Microsoft Exchange Server 2010, Configuring

Exam 70-662: Microsoft Exchange Server 2010, Configuring

Exam 70-667: Microsoft SharePoint 2010, Configuring


MCITP - Microsoft Certified IT professional

Exam 70-450: Designing, optimizing, and maintaining a database administrative solution using Microsoft SQL Server 2008

Exam 70-451: Designing Database Solutions and Data Access Using Microsoft SQL Server 2008

Exam 70-699: Windows Server 2003, MCSA Security Specialization Skills Update

Exam 70-668: Microsoft SharePoint 2010, Administrator


MCPD - Microsoft Certified Professional Developer

Exam 70-518: Designing and Developing Windows Applications Using Microsoft .NET Framework 4

Exam 70-519: Designing and Developing web applications Using Microsoft .NET Framework 4


What next?

The extension of these exams means you now have more time to achieve your MCPD, MCITP or MCTS certification. Visit us to see what other Microsoft certs are available.

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.